Corporate behemoths and small-to-medium sized firms have dominated 20th century models of skilled labour and professional services. Recently, however, peer-to-peer platforms are staring to decentralise traditional markets for lawyers, accountants and management consultants. In her latest article for the Financial Review, Rachel Botsman writes that deep-seated, socio-economic change is impacting both the supply and demand side of services.

Rapid technological disruption has created a digital marketplace where peer platforms are now transcending typically complex and expensive services. This speaks volumes as to changing consumer preferences and consumption patterns, but it also highlights a deeper, intrinsic need according to Skillbridge co-founder Raj Jeyakumar. Jeyakumar’s platform provides “top-tier consultants on demand” by matching consultants with clients looking for advice on a diverse range of issues in almost every context. Consequently, peer-driven professional services are starting to attract investors and elite talent that want to work closer to the client.

The start-up (Skillbridge) reports the average project spend is $US5,000 to $US10,000 but it is starting to see projects of more than $US50,000.

Despite upheaval in the service industry, Botsman writes that multi-million dollar mergers and cross-jurisdictional transactions are still going to attract the PwCs of the world. The peer economy is likely to challenge the market-share of boutique and mid-tier firms that are now competing with independent workers, micro-entrepreneurs, that are using the flexibility and freedom of online platforms to operate “on demand.” For example, UpCounsel is an uber-fication of legal services where peers are introduced to top-rated and experienced attorneys with completely transparent pricing.

UpCounsel’s transactional revenue growth is 20 percent, month-to-month, and will transact tens of millions of dollars in 2015, indicating it has hit a sweet spot.

Despite the opportunities created by decentralisation, the ramifications of virtual marketplaces in terms of, inter alia, taxes, insurance, commodification and legal norms are becoming increasingly complex. Rethinking the way peers transact is going to become more imperative as service platforms like Skillbridge and UpCounsel continue to tap into the socio-economic power of the peer economy.

Read Botsman’s full article here

The ‘uber-fication’ of service firms marks the next chapter for micro-entrepreneurship

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