Cape Town - Amazon, Google, Facebook, Etsy, Uber - what do all these names have in common?
They all form part of the "Emerging Platform Economy". The Centre for Global Enterprise defines a platform business as any medium that allows others to connect to it and can be found across industries including social networking, online retail stores, online financial and human resource functions, mobile payments, urban transportation and clean energy.
What these platform businesses also have in common is that they are all digital companies that were started outside the borders of Africa. So what does the platform economy look like in South Africa and can this model be as successful here as it is abroad?
“There is definitely an opportunity for the platform economy to grow in the South African market as more and more people are gaining access to digital technologies and free data,” says Derek Wilson, head of online insurance and financial quote comparison website Hippo.co.za.
“South Africa has experienced a constant increase in internet users in the last 16 years, from over 2.4 million users in 2000 to over 28 million users in 20162.”
Digital platform businesses are able to give people quick and easy access to various products, services, discounts, experiences and reviews. It also provides businesses with alternative low-cost online marketing and selling tools, explains Wilson.