MDEC to support ‘sharing economy’ activities in Malaysia

Sharing economy is being embraced as a new business model with 70 platforms under MDEC’s radar


Malaysia is seeking ways to boost “sharing economy” activities as more people embraces the prospects of putting their assets or services online for a fee.

Explosion of the sharing economy has given prominence to digital platforms like Airbnb, which is estimated to have two million listing and is the world’s largest hotel chain without owning the properties.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) Datuk Ng Wan Peng said the sharing economy is being embraced as a new business model and the related stakeholders must find ways to support its growth.

“What we want to see is how the sharing economy can benefit us. Can we have a better platform, better governance structure, better payment mechanism?

“Sharing economy is about bringing power back to the people who want to be part of it but we also need to manage it,” Ng said after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between MDEC and Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) yesterday.

Based on MDEC data, there are only five sharing platforms in Malaysia which fall under its radar. This year, however, the number has jumped to 70 platforms.

“We are excited about it. It is going to impact the way we do things traditionally,” Ng said.

MITA is partnering MDEC to introduce “Tour Buddy”, a localised private tour service that can be booked online. This new venture is expected to spur the sharing economy for the tourism sector.

MITA president Uzaidi Udanis represented his organisation at the signing in Kuala Lumpur while MDEC was represented by its Sharing Economy Ecosystem Development director Darzy Norhalim.

The platform, said Uzaidi, will complement travel agents and help to upsell their products and services to the tourists.

Targeting the B40 (bottom 40% household income) group, some 2,000 tour buddies will be trained by MITA during a month-long course. They will be exposed to, among others, areas like story-telling skills, communication and ethics.

For the time being, the project will utilise several mobile applications that are readily available such as Show-around, Nuflit and ToursByLocals. A new locally-developed application is expected to be introduced by year-end.

Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Johor Baru, Melaka, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Taman Negara, Pahang, have been identified for the initial implementation of Tour Buddy.

A tour buddy will provide tourists on key information like the best place to eat, waterfalls and hidden gems in a particular area. As with any other sharing economy platforms, they are free to determine their own personal “brand”, services and rate.

“Today’s tourists especially the millennials are different and sophisticated. They want local, off the beaten track journey and authentic experience. No more typical shopping and travelling,” Darzy said.

Tourism industry in Malaysia continued to expand in 2016 with the contribution of 14.8% (RM182.4 billion) to the economy. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the sharing economy’s global revenue is projected to grow from US$15 billion (RM63.33 billion) in 2015 to US$335 billion in 2025.