Report
379
Number
Nov 17 2015

The Access Economy and Credit Unions: Banking Implications of Sharing and Collaborative Consumption

Despite being pioneers of the peer-to-peer collaborative financial model, credit unions have struggled with gaining a competitive advantage in the newly emerging access economy. Opportunities for member-to-member lending can help credit unions become the financial face of the share economy.

Hope Schau
Hope Schau
Eller Professor of Marketing at the Eller College of Management
University of Arizona
Report Number 379

Executive Summary

The access economy is a global movement away from private or traditional ownership toward collaborative, collective consumption—or put simply, sharing. Entrepreneurs are capitalizing on this trend to offer consumers worldwide access to pools of products and services, inspiring them to own less and share more—with family, friends, and strangers. The business-to-consumer (B2C) model of production/consumption is giving way to the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) model, often called peer-to-peer, in which the business institution exists in order to enable resource access, or the sharing of resources between consumers.

Credit unions were onto this “new” trend in the finance world in the 1800s, when farmers first combined resources to cooperatively acquire equipment, on credit, before the harvest season. Credit unions have continued in a member-to-member, collaborative financial model that is, in light of the access economy we see today, extremely farsighted. However, when talking about the share or access economy financial models, credit unions are not mentioned in the popular press.