Marketplaces enable individuals and small business to offer products and services to a wider audience in a structured manner as ever before. Laws and regulations are not always designed to cater this type of small scaled supply. In Amsterdam for instance AirBNB ran into a wall when the city council indicated that offering overnight stays are regulated by licenses also for the 4000 listed rooms, lofts, apartments and houses on AirBNB within the city borders. (e.g. Amsterdam doesn’t ‘ban’ AirBnB but says renting out without a permit is illegal. Do you have a permit? – The Next Web.)
Taxi and bus services are suing marketplaces like SideCar which enables private drivers to share rides in major cities in the USA:
SideCar Sues Austin Department Of Transportation To Legitimize Ride Sharing:
Like Uber before it, SideCar received a cease-and-desist order and fines from the California Public Utilities Commission for operating an unlicensed charter party (i.e. limo) service in San Francisco. It’s also come under fire in Philadelphia, where three of its drivers had their cars impounded by the local police there.
In Europe taxi business is licensed business and therefor wild taxis are forbidden. Incumbents are being protected by these type of regulations.
Society will be challenged to cater for rules and regulations that will find a new balance between the opportunities for scaling down the size of the economical entity to offer products and services and protecting workers rights, safety and other social goals at the same time. It will also needs to strike a balance in making use of the economic potential stemming form recent marketplace developments as they empower the individual and small business entrepreneurs being so important for economic growth and employment and not overprotect the incumbents. in my view a major contribution by this development of scaling down to our economy is that established (and often rusted) business practices are confronted with the notion that it can be done differently; urging companies to make better use of the possibilities offered by new the technology and knowledge available today.