Babbitt Column | Blockchain + Accommodation Transportation: Reconstructing the Shared Economy?

I. Industry Overview

At the moment of seeing the title of this report, many readers may feel a little confused – there seems to be no close connection between accommodation and transportation. It is not like upstream and downstream, like "wholesale and retail", nor is it The relationship between “oil and gas” competing. In most cases, the relevant industry classifications will not compare these two areas. Even if there are simultaneous situations, they are usually in the less stringent everyday language of “having a car and a house”. The reason why this article does not take the usual path and choose to juxtapose the two is because the development trajectories of the two industries in the past few years have striking similarities: they all have a sharp decline in service supply. And the rapid decentralization of the industry, ultimately embodied in a business model that people are very familiar with – the sharing economy.

For the sharing economy, I believe that readers are no strangers. In the hottest 2017, it attracted less attention than the blockchain of 2018, and it is not difficult to find out when the most successful cases of shared economy are found: a considerable part of them are from accommodation. And the transportation sector – such as Airbnb, Uber and Didi. The emergence of this situation mainly comes from two aspects: First, in terms of hardware facilities, with the development of the economy, some qualified people have taken the lead in realizing the “car has room” mentioned above, and the property is not limited. The number of seats in a car and the number of cars is also higher than what you need. For them, instead of idling them, it is better to cash them out. Secondly, in terms of software skills, education and technology advancement, some owners of the above assets have already provided the ability to provide related services. For example, in terms of accommodation, many people with multiple properties often do not have to worry about basic food and clothing. There are more capabilities to study the design and layout of the house; in terms of transportation, the popularity of the driving school and the appearance of the navigation road APP make many private car drivers have the same passenger capacity as professional taxi drivers. . Under the combined effect of many factors, the supply of short-term accommodation and transportation services began to sink rapidly, bringing unprecedented convenience while creating unprecedented problems, both for consumers and providers of services. That's all.

Figure: The most well-known shared economic enterprise was born in the two areas of accommodation and transportation.

Branding-for-startups-at-the-example-of-airbnb-and-uber

Second, consumers: Should not believe in service providers?

First of all, look at consumers. Compared with traditional centralized service organizations, the cost of services provided by such decentralized institutions is generally not high. After all, the original intention of sharing economic development is to save consumers money, although some subdivisions With the end of the money-burning subsidy war and the merger of related companies, the service cost has increased compared with the past, but due to the existence of traditional centralized service organizations, the price is not too strong. At present, the main concern of consumers in the sharing economy of accommodation transportation is on the income side, that is, whether the service of the other party can bring the expected experience and trustworthiness.

If in the traditional accommodation and transportation mode, the supplier's brand (chain hotel, taxi company) plays a role for the service quality, then in the decentralized accommodation and transportation system, the connection service provider and The consumer's Internet platform acts as a trust intermediary, and its "station" approach mainly includes two types: First, the service provider is reviewed in terms of compliance with the service, and only those who meet the conditions can log in to the platform to provide services; Second, in terms of the quality of service, through the evaluation of other consumers, the service provider is quantitatively evaluated.

Seeking truth from facts, this method does not allow consumers to pay 100% trust in service providers. After all, the review will be flawed, and comments will sometimes be less objective, or even directly. However, considering that a considerable part of accommodation and transportation services are relatively non-standardized products, there is a lack of structural indicators that can be used to simply and rudely measure the quality of service. It belongs to the “second trust” mentioned by the author. It is difficult to reconstruct the trust relationship by means of "related data winding". Therefore, within a predictable period, a decentralized economy like accommodation and transportation will connect providers and consumers of services in the form of such traditional centralized intermediary stations.

Figure: Guess what is the robot in the full score comment below?

WeChat screenshot_20190405150918

However, although blockchain technology cannot directly connect the two sides of the decentralized economy, it does not mean that its existence is completely meaningless. At least it can play a role in improving the accuracy of traditional intermediary stations. For example, the "commental fraud" mentioned above, in the future blockchain invoice popularization, "one-click billing" function can be achieved, through the "one vote one comment", that is, let consumers use the invoice as a voucher The means to obtain the right to comment to avoid the proliferation of false comments. Although this practice of setting the threshold of comments has the suspicion of restricting consumers' right to speak, the right to speak should be a kind of power that is used with caution. It should be placed in the hands of those responsible, rather than meaningless. The commentary is rampant. For this, many people now seem to have forgotten.

Third, the supplier: How can I skip the intermediary?

Look at the service provider again. If the current consumer has a relatively positive attitude towards the shared economic platform such as accommodation and transportation, then the service provider's feelings are more complicated – on the one hand, the traffic collected by the Internet platform is indeed the service provider. We bring more customers. On the other hand, some Internet intermediaries are getting more and more arrogant, resulting in a decline in the profit per order. Especially when the platform side hit the price war and seized the source of the customer, a considerable part of the price difference that was suppressed was transferred to these suppliers, which had a significant impact on its revenue. For example, recent surveys show that the drip platform can reach 30% of the driver's per-sales per game, resulting in more and more drivers sighing "not making money by driving." Under such circumstances, many practitioners have turned their attention to the blockchain, hoping to use their "decentralization" characteristics to complete the direct connection between the relevant service providers and consumers in the shared area of ​​accommodation and transportation. Achieve economic win-win.

However, the question is: Is the decentralization concept of the blockchain really likely to help service providers and consumers kick off the Internet platform as an intermediary? In this regard, the author has mentioned two points in the previous article, "Why is decentralization in the general trend, and de-intermediation is not (below)" : First, decentralization does not mean de-intermediation. The so-called "center" refers to the situation in which a certain power is concentrated in one or several stakeholders in the industry pattern, while "intermediary" refers to a certain link in the industrial chain (mostly in circulation marketing Mainly, this determines that the “decentralization” of the blockchain is not directly related to the “de-intermediation” of the industrial chain. Secondly, although many intermediaries do not directly produce goods or services, this does not mean that they exist. There is no value. In fact, intermediaries like real estate and transportation create value-added in the entire service industry chain by combining information and making the relevant assets generate cash flow as early as possible. In other words, you can't easily remove these professional links from the industry chain, otherwise no one will do the job of information matching.

In this way, we must choose the next step, choose a moderate way between the two extreme situations of strong intermediary oligopoly and complete de-intermediation, that is, avoid the intermediate link showing strong influence in the whole industrial chain. Force and control, for example, in the blockchain industry, as an intermediary for bitcoin miners is only responsible for package transactions, and does not intercept the transaction itself, such an intermediary is acceptable. But if the user's account is frozen like EOS's Core Arbitration Forum (ECAF), such an intermediary is unacceptable. The real economy is the same. Like Taobao, as a retail platform, it not only provides free services, but also does not interfere too much with the legal behavior of the merchants. Such an intermediary is acceptable, but if it is like some hotel platforms, it will be charged. High mediation fees, such an intermediary is unacceptable.

In fact, many of the blockchain projects such as “decentralized accommodation” and “decentralized taxis” appear on the market, and their ideas are like the “bitcoin-like network” model mentioned above— – On the one hand, to maintain the existence of information integration, on the other hand, find ways to reduce their industrial influence, and avoid allowing suppliers and consumers of goods and services to pay too much for the intermediary, and the specific approach is: The blockchain network automatically releases the tokens to reward the matchmakers, and then realizes “zero mediation fee” and “de-intermediation” in disguise, but this will involve two problems: First, the token reward can be covered. The cost of the intermediary? Secondly, if the tokens are dug up, how can we continue to stimulate the intermediary matching transaction? And if the token continues to be issued, how can it maintain its value? For the time being, none of the above questions have a clear answer. Although there are some theoretical ideas in the industry, they have not yet been tested in practice. You should know that even if it is regarded as a model of decentralization, you can't rely on the block to maintain the absolute zero intermediary fee. It is still necessary for the transferor to pay a certain fee to motivate the miners.

Under such circumstances, if you want to reduce the intermediary's control over the industry chain in a C2C economy such as shared transportation and shared accommodation, you may still have to follow traditional business logic:

First of all, there must be a competitive situation in the intermediary process, and there should not be a single situation. This kind of competition can occur in the same sub-sector. For example, the competition between Uber and Didi can also occur in fine Between the sub-areas, for example, the competition between shared bicycles and online vehicles, only in this way, the relevant institutions have the power to suppress prices themselves. Otherwise, once an intermediary link is controlled by a single stakeholder, it will inevitably lead to a situation of overwhelming.

Secondly, the business model and profitability of the intermediary in the competitive landscape must be sufficient to support their sustainable development, such as the combination of “low intermediary fee + traffic advertising fee”. Otherwise, the competition pattern of the group will soon be involved. The party's inability to make ends meet is difficult to sustain. Just like the subsidy war in the field of sharing traffic in previous years, the money burned until the bombs were forced to merge, and the related expenses immediately increased. And if these two things can't be done, then within a predictable period, those more powerful intermediaries will still exist in a particular industry chain. Although their rules will have some unreasonable points, as long as they are within the scope of policy and society, the intermediary will not have much self-improvement motivation.

However, although the status of the intermediary will not be particularly shocked in the short term, this does not mean that there is no room for improvement. In view of the fact that some intermediary platforms sometimes touch the psychological bottom line of society in some respects, these institutions are in products. There is an improvement in experience and it needs to be improved with blockchain technology. To give a simple example: In the last year's online car gang murder case, the victim repeatedly asked for help from the network car platform, but failed to get a timely response. An important reason for this situation is that the right to deal with related incidents has been centralized in the hands of related companies, and the latter has failed to respond to the victim’s call for help because of subjective attitudes or due to heavy objective tasks. Timely reply. However, if the processing power of the event is dispersed in the hands of the decentralized community based on the blockchain automatic accounting incentive system, the response speed of the intermediary system will tend to be faster, and related things may not happen.

WeChat screenshot_20190405151458

Fourth, the industry summary: unexpected gains

From the above analysis, it is not difficult to see that for the decentralized system of accommodation and transportation, it is difficult for people to forcibly copy the bitcoin network's “weak mediation” model to create a similar weak centralization. The economic system, because these two types of systems are completely different from each other in terms of industry rules and development stages. However, it is worth noting that, while the overall background is not optimistic, we still inadvertently discovered two application scenarios of blockchain technology in shared accommodation and transportation tracks – that is, reliable based on blockchain invoices. Comments and rapid response community intermediaries based on blockchain intelligent accounting systems. This is probably the beauty of blockchain research: in many cases, although this technology has not landed in the scene you expected, it has the potential to bear fruit on other tracks. The so-called unintentional willows will be said to be the meaning.