Despite mixed opinions, the sharing economy continues to grow strongly and is expanding to many forms in Vietnam.
Ms. Nguyen Thanh Huyen, a 30-year-old nurse in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem district, spends a considerable amount of time doing the housework after hard day’s work at her hospital. “My husband is also busy and rarely helps with the load,” she said, added that this puts a strain on their relationship. When she asked her husband about hiring a maid, he said a stranger in the house might bring their family unexpected problems. After much debate the young couple finally agreed to find a helper for a few hours through a sharing website. “The most important thing was finding someone reliable,” Ms. Huyen said.
In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are many young couples who are busy balancing work and family but who also look to take advantage of useful services. Foreseeing this trend, many “sharing” businesses have appeared, in transport, accommodation, and even maids, such as Taske, Giaohangnhanh, and Viecnha. The splash made by Uber and Grab Taxi in Vietnam encouraged other entrepreneurs to look more closely at the sharing model.
FPT Telecom recently cooperated with the Homecare Company to launched housekeeping services, where users order a maid via an app that can be downloaded on the iOS platform or via its website, Viecnha.vn. Users are required to fill complete information regarding the type of service they seek and the time and the hours they need help at home. According to Mr. Le Trong Duc from FPT Telecom, Viecnha.vn is similar to well-known services around the world such as Handy, Homejoy, Merry Maids, and Home Bliss. “With a seamless process taking just 60 seconds and secure payment methods, we believe this is one of most convenient maid services available,” he said.
“Although the sharing economy model is not very common in Southeast Asia, I am sure that it will increase strongly and become a trend in the future around the region, including in Vietnam.”
Mr. Vishal Bali, Managing Director of Consumer Insights in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific at Nielsen
Giaohanhnhanh Co. also launched a new app called Ahamove, where those in need can find trucks or other vehicles with a driver to transport goods. Mr. Luong Hoai Duy, CEO of Giaohangnhanh, said that customers can book the vehicles they want and receive information about the driver.
Uber and GrabTaxi were the sharing economy pioneers in Vietnam. Despite some obstacles, both have proven to be popular and successful. A representative from Uber said that Vietnam is its fastest growing market in the world. While not disclosing its customer numbers or revenue, Mr. Nguyen Tuan Anh, Director of GrabTaxi in Vietnam, told local media that in the four countries in Southeast Asia where the company has invested Vietnam is recording the highest growth rate and in the near future the company intends to expand throughout the country. Easytaxi has also found Vietnam to its liking.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the sharing economy is going through something of a boom in Vietnam. A recent survey by Nielsen shows that the sharing economy model has great potential for development in the country. Of every four Vietnamese people it surveyed, three said they like the idea behind the model. Seventy-six per cent said they would be willing to use the products and services available through the model and only 18 per cent would refuse to share their personal assets and be part of the sharing economy. The survey also showed that, in Vietnam, the three leading products available for lease are electronic products and motorbikes, with 42 per cent saying they would lease the former.
According to Nielsen, the foundation for the emergence of the sharing economy is the rapid development of the internet and it connecting consumers. “With incomes in the region gradually rising, consumers will often seek opportunities to further increase incomes in many ways, and the sharing or renting out of items they own is a good choice,” said Mr. Vishal Bali, Nielsen’s Managing Director of Consumer Insights in Southeast Asia, North Asia, and Pacific.
The development of the sharing economy is not good new for traditional business models. Despite its strong development, however, like any new economic model there were bound to be obstacles. Uber’s experience is proof that it is not easy to be successful with a new business model. The company has faced opposition worldwide, not just in Vietnam. Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, the US and the UK have also seen protests by the “old industry” clogging the streets of major cities, with violence seen at times in France.
In Vietnam, sharing models like Uber, GrabTaxi and others have also faced their share of trouble from the traditional business model. Mr. Pham Trong Bao, a taxi driver at ABC Taxi Hanoi, said he would never work for GrabTaxi because of the damage it does to taxi drivers. “In these early days the model provides drivers with more earnings, but in the long term it will overwhelm and even replace traditional taxis,” he said. “When working for a taxi company we receive insurance and allowances. If everyone joined the sharing model to earn more income, the occupation of ‘taxi driver’ will one day cease to exist.”
Others, though, argue that it helps people earn extra money and creates jobs. According to Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung, Director of Homecare, who has many years of experience in building management and maintenance in Hanoi, sharing apps like Viecnha.vn provide employment for those with the right experience.
Despite the mixed reviews, no one can deny the role information technology plays in business today. The problem is that in Vietnam and many other countries around the world the law has not changed fast enough to keep pace with technological developments. Rightly or wrongly, too much stead is still placed on “operating licenses” and “unfair competition”, without acknowledging that technology and the needs of the new generation will not stop. Authorities and businesses alike must take note of new business models.
For his part, Lawyer Truong Thanh Duc, Chairman of Basico, said that Vietnam must follow integration and technological trends. Whether it wants to or not, Vietnam has to accept these new models and new ways of doing business. The first step is to adjust laws to make them suitable with the changes. “The trend of doing business with new technology is growing rapidly and in the future will dominate many areas,” he said.
Ms. Huyen and her husband, meanwhile, are quite satisfied with their new maid. “Although the service costs slightly more that the traditional way of finding help, our ‘reward’ is peace of mind,” she said.