and over 30.000 dedicated vehicles (Nekermann and Smedley, 2016). Today, Europe represents the 50% of the global car sharing market and it is expected to rise to more than 15 million users by 2020 (Monitor Deloitte, 2017). In fact, many new companies have entered this market; therefore, the competitiveness and the offers have risen as well.
For example, in October 2016, Toyota Motor Corporation announced a partnership with Getaround, using their technology platform to provide peer-to-peer services and enable future mobility services. Whereas, BMW launched DriveNow, car sharing services for their BMW-i SIXT, and MINI series (Global Market Insights, 2018). According to the FleetNews (2017), DriveNow reached the milestone of 1,000,000 users in October 2017.
There are two major models of car sharing: Business-to-consumer (B2C) and Peer-to-peer (P2P). In the B2C model, the fleet of vehicles is owned by a company. Subsequently, a client can rent a selected car. This model can be divided into two subcategories: traditional or round-trip car sharing, which requires users to borrow and return vehicles at the same location; and One-way or point-to-point car sharing, which allows users to take an automobile from a location and drop it off at another within an established operating area.
In the P2P model, the vehicles are owned by the individuals and rented to other individuals. Although this model currently holds a small share of the car sharing market, it has rapidly grown in the last years due to the development of new mobile app technologies. P2P car sharing can also take shape of the collaborative composition, that can be divided into two types: Business intermediary and Neighbourhood sharing. The first type allows private vehicles owners to subscribe to a platform and offer their cars to other individuals who can rent them. Whereas, in the second case individuals buy a vehicle jointly, authorizing everybody to drive the vehicle when required.
In order to increase success possibilities, P2P car sharing, must rely on technological development because a state-of-the-art platform is required to facilitate the use. Moreover, alongside a strong community of users who are willing to participate and create trustful connections, the network should be large, available and long-term oriented enough to attract new customers. Finally, optimal insurance policies have to be set up to avoid any problem whatsoever (Monitor Deloitte, 2017).
One of the major benefits of car sharing is that users do not have any acquisition costs nor maintenance costs. Costs of insurance and parking are included in the fee. In fact, these costs are spread among several individuals who use the same car sharing service. The fixed costs of being an owner of a vehicle are converted into variable costs. Users only pay when they use the car. Moreover, another benefit of social importance, is that even people who cannot afford their own cars, can use car sharing vehicles.
Car sharing offers greater mobility and dynamism to an individual then public transportation. In addition, the sharing model benefits the transportation infrastructure as well, because users can choose among different vehicles in terms of size according to the trip’s purpose.
The decrease of car ownership, alongside with the strengthening of the public transportation system, reduces the overall presence of vehicles on the roads. This leads to a reduction of parking congestion and consequently resulting travel time savings. (SGS, 2012).
On the other hand, there are some downsides such as it may difficult to find a vehicle nearby, customers are obliged to subscript giving all their personal information and it is not possible to go with the shared car outside of the operating area.
1.3 Blockchain: A New Infrastructure
“Blockchain is a public register in which transactions between two users belonging to the same network are stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way” (Giordani, 2018). It was created by a group of programmers known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto, in 2008. It was originally designed for allowing digital transaction by means of the digital currency Bitcoin, but it has dramatically evolved and found new potential uses. Nakamoto’s first goal was to create “a new Electronic Cash System that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending. It is completely decentralized with no server or central authority” (Nakamoto, 2009). Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency ever created. According to Cambridge Dictionary (2018), peer-to-peer in computing is “involving sharing files or other resources between computers connected through a network, rather than using a central server”.
Since 2009 many other cryptocurrencies have been created, there are about 2.000 cryptocurrencies existing today (CoinMarketCap, 2018). The most popular cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) with around US$110.000.000.000 and US$20.000.000.000 respectively (CoinMarketCap, 2018).
There is a strong need to distinguish between Blockchain and Bitcoin. These two elements, although they might have the same origin, have a significant difference. Blockchain is a digital infrastructure for records and transactions. Whereas, Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency or electronic currency. There are many different Blockchains, as well as thousands of cryptocurrencies. Each Blockchain is conceived to support a “project”. Bitcoin is just one of the multiple existing projects.
According to Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of the book Blockchain Revolution, “The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value” (2016).
The essence of Blockchain is its decentralized technology, also known as “decentralized bookkeeping” (Jordanov, 2018). It is a public, trusted and shared ledger which allows users to transfer information without any intermediary (The Economist, 2016).
First, due to the fact that this technology does not need any intermediaries among users, the costs are lower. In fact, assets are managed by the network, and not by any unique central authority. Second, all the records are updated every ten minutes, with a global network of computers that manage the database. Last, immutable ledgers in which data is stored, provide the data integrity.
Ledger is a means to visibility and transparency of history of transactions. Each transaction or information is recorded in a block which is connected to the previous block, creating a chain of blocks. Each block contains a cryptographic hash; it is a mathematical algorithm which function is to provide an invertible cryptography that prevents data from being modified.
It takes a particular input (message), transforms it into cryptography and digests it into an output. It is essential for the security and preservation of the data. Blockchain technology’s potential lies in the fact that every single user is directly connected to the other ones. Therefore, users can exchange data and information in a safe and secure way without relying on a third party.
Blockchain aims to empower peer-to-peer networks, therefore the value created by these networks is taken away from central authorities and returned to consumers. This technology may break many conventional rules, and this forces corporations and governments to think differently about their value-creation (Deloitte, 2016).
Fig. 1 Moving toward the internet of value “Deloitte analysis”
Today, the majority of operations such as payments are being done throughout a system which serves as an intermediary between buyers and sellers called “centralized” system. On the other hand, in “decentralized” systems the network runs on a peer-to-peer basis. The online identity and reputation will be decentralized, and individuals will own the data that belongs to them (Mougayar, The Business Blockchain, 2016).
Data and information are recorded and shared throughout the network, which will not have a central authority that supervises the process. The potential of this technology lies in the fact that both companies and individual have caught the great possibilities offered by this architecture.
Fig. 2 Types of digital architectures
In “centralized” systems users connect to a single server, that controls the entire network. This leads to the fact every single operation between the users is controlled and validated from the central server. If someone hacks the single server, he or she could be able to hack the entire system (Lee, 2017).
In “decentralized” systems different users connect to several servers that, in their turn, are connected to each other. These servers control the entire network which is more difficult to hack, because, to do so, all the different servers should be hacked (Lee, 2017).
In “distributed” systems, there are thousands of servers connected to each other, with no central authority or authorities. Every server carries out an equal part of any decision taken by the network. Since there is no central element to hack, this type of network is virtually impossible to manipulate. In fact, even if someone takes over one server, the network will not validate that manipulation, because the rest of the servers preserve the correct information (Lee, 2017). This is how Blockchain works.
Blockchain can have many applications and it is based on four pillars: decentralized communications, decentralized law, decentralized production and decentralized finance. It could decentralize the communications systems with the creation of new browsers such as Brave.com. It could decentralize law by supporting the Blockchain-enabled e-voting (BEV). This ambitious suggestion could implement the “liquid” democracy (Boucher, 2017). It decentralizes the production of goods and improves the traceability of raw material. IBM created the IBM Food Trust which is “the collaborative network of growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers and others enhancing visibility and accountability in each step of the food supply. Powered by the IBM Blockchain Platform, IBM Food Trust directly connects participants through a permitted, permanent and shared record of food origin details, processing data, shipping details and more” (IBM, 2018). It decentralizes finance, which is Blockchain’s most developed application field (Jordanov, The Blockchain, how it works & its potential, conference at Tilburg University, 2018).
1.4 Unconventional Business Models and Corporate Social Responsibility
According to PWC (2016), today’s world has been coping with five main changes that will undoubtedly shape our societies in the future. These phenomena are called “Megatrends”. They are: demographic changes, shift in economic power, rapid urbanisation, Climate Change and scarcity, and technological breakthroughs.
In the 1950’s, less than 28% of the global population lived in big cities. This number has gone up to about 50% and, according to United Nations, 4.9 billion people will be urban inhabitants by 2030, as well as there will be 41 mega-cities, which are cities with more than 10 million citizens (UN, 2015).
In fact, industrialized countries must certainly cope with the development and growth of their major cities in terms of the amount of population and costs of enlargement. Surely, the most competitive countries tend to create a solid infrastructure and sustainable urban mobility. For instance, urban transport plays a fundamental role in meeting the goals of economic competitiveness, social cohesion, and sustainable growth. The European Commission claims that “some 74% of Europe’s population lives and works in cities and towns, and by 2050 some 82% of the continent’s population will be concentrated in urban areas” (UN World Urbanization Prospects, 2011).
Eastern countries have been driven by a relevant growth and, therefore, the economic power is shifting from west to east. The effect of this changing is already visible. In fact, E7 countries (China, Russia, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey) are overcoming the G7 countries (USA, UK, Italy, France Japan, Canada, Germany) in terms of economic resources. Suffice to say that China alone, with a GDP of $12.000.000 is reaching the entire EU with a total GDP of $17.000.000 (International Monetary Fund, 2017).
In addition, faster technological advancements are shaping the social and economic infrastructure. Since worldwide corporates play a fundamental role in this ongoing situation, a shift in the current paradigm is hereby assumed.