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Welcome to a new $600-billion marketplace

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By Paul Fitzgerald - Why the service industry is the new cash cow and how it’s helping grow the economy

Online service marketplaces of sorts are popping up everyone online.

The companies that are running them are making big bucks and those that rely on them are making money from them too.

Take a look at the barrage of sites that have entered the USA market online. AskforTask and TaskRabbit are two notable ones and which are leading the way in connecting “askers” and “taskers,” and Amazon and eBay have their eyes on launching their own sites to get in on the action.

So, what’s the craze all about and why is there so much money to be made in this industry?

Muneeb Mushtaq, CEO and co-founder for AskforTask, is one who knows the ins and outs on this industry and he says everyone is turning to the online world for everything these days. Phonebooks, yellow-pages and classifieds are passé, and people trust the online world and like the fact that anything and everything desired is just a point and click away.

“Peer-to-peer marketplaces are the rave right now,” says Mushtaq. “This is now a $600-billion industry as thousands of people are using them to post odds and ends jobs and in turn scores of people are getting work from them.”

He adds, “This is a new economy and it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The USA has a population of nearly 313 million, so it’s no wonder that the dominant players across the world want to have a strong presence online in this market.

“The bigger the population means the bigger the opportunity,” says Mushtaq. “Once you connect millions of people with those that need work done, it becomes a whole new economic engine.”

The new economic engine of handyman sites is welcoming news for Americans – a country hit hard by the so-called ‘2008 Great Recession’ and which is slowly recovering.

Dr. Dave Enns, an adjunct professor of economics at Pace University in New York City, says these handyman sites are simple but going back to the basics is a unique way of generating new economic activity which is a benefit for companies offering these sites and users alike.

“Essentially, sites like TaskRabbit and AskforTask, Amazon and eBay, have taken us back in time in a unique way,” he says. “They are like notice boards in old villages, but now are accessible on digital platforms where millions of people can post notices of jobs that need to get done and where users can come in and make an offer on a job.”

“It’s really neat to see how these new online handyman sites are actually making communities stronger and bonding them too… And for an economy in the US that has suffered many challenges, sites like these are getting people back to work and this is a good thing. People working means more people are spending their money. Once you give people more purchasing power it has positive benefits – it’s what I call a welcoming domino effect.”

These new handyman sites are targeting major city centers like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington. There’s no doubt, smaller communities and mid-sized US cities will be on their maps.

Some of the popular tasks from “askers” on leading sites include cleaning, delivery, and handyman type work. These sites also have “taskers” seeking work.

These sites make money from “taskers” and take a percentage of the deal made. “Askers” on the other hand can post their interest for work for free.

And technology is paramount for companies like AskforTask and TaskRabbit and the same will hold true for Amazon and eBay. Creating, managing and overseeing user friendly platforms and security as well as listening to users’ feedback are all a must.

Mushtaq states, “To remain a leader in this new and emerging industry means offering the best in technology and listening closely to your community. These are exciting times for the startups and big players in the industry, and it’s amazing to see how the sharing economy is now being praised as a new economic engine – a unique one of sorts that will get America back on its feet.”

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