Co-operatives are flexible entities and respond effectively to new conditions. With businesses moving onto the internet and operating as platforms, a new type of co-operative has come into being – the platform co-op. Think Uber or Amazon, but owned by the drivers and the customers respectively.
The first platform co-op to be registered in Australia is bHive Bendigo, a sharing economy platform owned by its users.
Some of the benefits of platform co-operatives include:
Protection from exploitation through ownership, transparency, control
Unlike Uber and Facebook, which are owned by investors, a platform co-op is owned by its members. An Uber owned by its drivers, or a Facebook owned by its users, would provide ownership, control and protection against exploitation for members.
Prospect of data democracy
Ownership of data is valuable; so much so, data has been called the new oil. A platform co-operative, because it is owned by its users, would remain accountable to them in its use of their data.
Money flows within local communities
Platform co-ops like bHive Bendigo are owned locally, which keeps the profits made by the platform local giving the community an economic boost.