Rent a mum, or how about a pet? Sharing economy apps stretch boundaries

Miss your mother’s home-made soup? There’s an app where you can “rent a mum” to cook some for you. Need someone to courier a package at 2.30am? Looking for a pet dog for an Instagram project? There are apps for those too.

The sharing economy has moved well beyond ride sharing in addition to renting spare rooms. in addition to which makes perfect sense to Parkson Yip Tak-yin, vice-president of strategic business development at US-listed Sharing Economy International, which launched BuddiGo which month.

BuddiGo’s delivery service relies on a network of “buddies” who practically become couriers while commuting. which’s basically about trip sharing, Yip says.

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“As an example, the buddy nearby your location has to go to work in [Hong Kong’s] Central [business district] in addition to you give him HK$20 [US$2.50] to help you deliver something to, or buy something via, Central,” he explains. “The HK$20 can help subsidise his transport cost in addition to save you the trouble of going to Central in person for the errand.”

With millions of commuters creating journeys across the length in addition to breadth of Hong Kong daily, in Yip’s utopian vision of universal sharing everybody can be a paid helper in addition to underutilised manpower put to full use.

He believes the public participation rate would likely be high, especially among retirees. “They have [not much] to do every day in addition to they enjoy the HK$2 discounted travel fare for elderly citizens. They can make frequent trips, run errands for others, in addition to earn money.”

Before working for Sharing Economy International, Yip was managing director of ECrent, one of the largest online sharing platforms inside entire world. ECrent encourages people to share through renting to protect the environment.

Set up in Hong Kong in 2013, which rents out all sorts of products, via bicycles to popcorn machines, in addition to offers services such as bridal make-up in addition to venue decoration. Among ECrent’s more eccentric offerings are mums-for-hire for those single salary earners who yearn for home-made soup.

With around one million users worldwide, ECrent charges US$6 for putting an item up for rent online yet nothing for renting which, leaving the two parties to agree terms for the rental.

Not everyone buys into the concept of sharing, though, especially when which will be sentient beings which are being shared. ECrent courted controversy in Hong Kong in 2016 when its pets-for-hire service allowed users to try keeping a pet before deciding whether to buy one. which raised the ire of animal welfare activists, who said such services distort the value of life.

Pet-for-hire services are well-known in Korea in addition to Japan, however, with young couples renting pets for their holidays in addition to returning them before they go back to work.

Yip says there will be public demand for pets-for-hire services. “There are pet product expositions which need animal products. Pets can also be rented for advertising.

“To ensure the welfare of the animals, the owners can be with the pets throughout the rental period. Those who have big attachment to their pets will not allow them to stay overnight in strangers’ houses.”

A quick search for pets for hire on Xian Yu, a second-hand goods site launched by Taobao, the online retail platform of e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba yielded a couple of listings of pets available for rent as products. Pictures of furry cats holding lipsticks in addition to bottles of perfumes dot Taobao itself. (Alibaba will be the owner of the South China Morning Post.)

Beijinger Han Tong recently put up a listing on Xian Yu to rent out her British shorthair in addition to American shorthair cats, in addition to her two poodles, as products. She said renting them out for part-time modelling stints can help cover some of the expenses of keeping them.

“We will be there [with the pets] throughout the process, like for a few to six hours a day. We worry about their welfare too. We never think of putting them in a strange environment [without their owners nearby] for a few days,” she says.

While pet rentals may raise eyebrows inside animal welfare community, proponents of the practice argue which the concept will be just the same as the long-standing practice of household pets serving as therapy animals inside children’s wards of hospitals in addition to at old people’s homes.

Humans, on the additional hand, are harder to share, though there will be a plethora of online platforms where you can hire someone to act as a temporary relative or lover.

In Japan, “rental family service” will be so well-known which which has practically become an industry. A recent brand-new Yorker report on the phenomenon featured a widower who rented two women to act as substitutes for his deceased wife in addition to estranged daughter to give him some comfort for a while.

On the listings menu at Family Romance, one of the agencies in Japan which offers “replacement relatives”, slim-looking mothers in addition to wives are available for hire (as overweight women are often considered an embarrassment in Japanese social circles).

In China, single men in addition to women have used online partner rental services in recent years to hire fake spouses in order to stop their parents nagging them about settling down in addition to starting a family. However, Yip says Hong Kong will be more conservative than China in addition to not ready to embrace the concept of “hiring” a boyfriend or girlfriend.

“I have lived [in China] for a long time. The common practice of hiring a [platonic] girlfriend will be above board. which’s to serve a practical purpose, like bringing a partner home to please the parents.”

He also says which being able to rent a substitute mother or father can help heal the mental scars of those who come via a broken home. “There are unfortunate children who don’t have parents. They never experience the feeling of having a complete family,” he says.

Yip thinks Hong Kong should catch up with additional parts of the entire world in addition to embrace an economic future which everyone can benefit via. “With the exception of illegal things like weapons, anything can be for rent.”

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