Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the world is shifting from a sharing economy to a safety economy. As consumers emerge from their homes, they seem to be opting for the solitary and hygiene of their own cars, bicycles and walking. Even as economies reopen, given the new priorities, mass transit and other modes of urban transportation can look forward to tough times.
But it’s not all bad news. One mode hat will not have to wait for herd immunity is micromobility, a term used to refer to bicycle- or scooter-sharing enterprises. These services are already seeing riders return — for some cities, in increasing numbers. The reason? Bicycles and scooters are used outdoors, allow for social distancing and can be wiped down before use.
According to a recent eight-nation survey Oliver Wyman conducted with some 6,000 respondents, 44 percent of riders said they would be willing to increase their dependence on the service in the future and 34 percent said they planned to use it as much as before the pandemic. Only 22 percent said they would decrease their use. Additionally, over a third of non-users said they were equally or more willing to try the service.
Initially, the pandemic prompted some micromobility startups to close down operations in the face of stay-at-home orders, and demand pretty much dried up, according to a New York Times analysis of credit card data. That decline in ridership was driven as much by corporate decisions to shut down operations as it was by the pandemic. Resuming operations in bigger cities may be a smart first step to lure many riders back to the service. Those that have are seeing better numbers, attributed in large part to essential workers. In New York City, Citi Bike expanded service during the pandemic into the Bronx because essential workers needed alternatives to mass transit to get to their workplaces. Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., also announced plans to expand. Both operations never closed during the pandemic, and both saw demand throughout.
Filling the gap
In the meantime, shared mobility services have had to look for revenue alternatives. To compensate for decreased ridership, some companies are adding or expanding delivery services for such items as food, medical supplies and groceries.
Even before the pandemic, several large ride-hailing and scooter-sharing operations established relationships with popular food delivery services to enhance revenue. The pandemic made last-mile delivery more important to most city dwellers, looking for ways to get food, pharmaceuticals and other essentials without leaving the safety of home. For instance, in our survey, 42 percent of respondents said they were using online grocery shopping and food delivery services more or for the first time.
The new revenue from these operations is helping, but it is probably not enough to compensate for the decline in ridership caused by the coronavirus. For many ride-hailing companies, even a doubling of their food delivery business would only partially offset the double-digit drop in ridership globally.
Contrary to what one might expect, the sharing and safety economies need not be at odds. Mobility companies that embrace a heightened focus on safety and work to reassure riders that they are watching out for their health are the ones that will emerge the strongest. For instance, many bicycle- and scooter-sharing enterprises announced implementation of extensive cleaning protocols, which include wiping down and spraying equipment regularly.
To compensate for decreased ridership, some companies are adding or expanding delivery services for such items as food, medical supplies and groceries.
Similarly, ride-hailing companies altered their business model because of the pandemic, switching to door-to-door, single-passenger rides while discontinuing ride-sharing services. Despite continuing pandemic-related challenges, our survey shows that many travelers will come back to ride-hailing and car-sharing, with most saying they plan to use these services the same or more after the pandemic.
Respondents from countries where the pandemic was the worst were the least enthusiastic about returning to shared mobility modes, with respondents from Spain being the most negative about shared mobility services. In Singapore, where the pandemic has only killed 30 people, there was much less resistance to the idea of using them during and after the pandemic.
Based on our survey, it’s clear that the sharing economy has not retreated so much as it has morphed. In the new environment, micromobility looks set to take off as cities and consumers embrace its benefits.
Alex LaValle, an associate at Oliver Wyman, contributed to this report.
Canadian dollar notches biggest gain in a month as stocks rally
The Canadian dollar strengthened to a one-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as investor sentiment picked up and domestic data showed that retail sales fell less than expected in July.
World stock markets rallied and the safe-haven U.S. dollar retreated from one-month highs as worries about contagion from property developer China Evergrande eased and investors digested the Federal Reserve’s plans for reining in the stimulus.
Canada is a major exporter of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to be particularly sensitive to investor appetite for risk.
“The assumption here is that (Fed interest) rate hikes are still a long way out and so equities markets can still perform with accommodative financial conditions,” said Mazen Issa, senior FX strategist at TD Securities in New York.
“Consequently, currencies that have a higher beta to the equity market, like the CAD, can do alright.”
U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.5% higher at $73.30 a barrel, while the Canadian dollar was trading up 0.9% at 1.2653 to the greenback, or 79.03 U.S. cents.
It was the currency’s biggest advance since Aug. 23. It touched its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2628.
Canadian retail sales dipped 0.6% in July, compared with expectations for a decline of 1.2%, while a preliminary estimate showed sales rebounding 2.1% in August.
Canadian government bond yields were higher across a steeper curve, tracking the move in U.S. Treasuries.
The 10-year touched its highest level since July 14 at 1.335% before dipping to 1.330%, up 11.6 basis points on the day.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Peter Cooney)
China Vows Better Policy Support to Economy as Headwinds Mount – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Chinese policy makers reiterated the need to fine-tune economic policies as the world’s second-largest economy faces increasing headwinds from virus outbreaks and high commodity prices.
Policy should be preemptive and coordinated across cycles, the State Council, the equivalent of China’s cabinet, said in a statement after a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday. Governments at all levels should maintain the continuity and stability of macroeconomic policies and enhance their effectiveness, while also do a good job in preventing and controlling virus cases, it said.
Efforts are needed to better coordinate fiscal, financial and employment policies in order to “stabilize reasonable expectations by the market,” it said.
China again vowed to make sure the economy is operating within a reasonable range, with further measures to boost consumption, guiding private capital to play a better role in expanding investment, and ensuring stable growth in foreign trade and foreign capital, according to the statement. While the employment situation is stable this year, efforts are still needed to maintain employment and help companies, it said.
The economy took a knock in August from stringent virus controls and tight curbs on property. While China’s Covid zero approach helped to quickly quash the infections, retail sales growth suffered, slowing to 2.5% in August.
Facing the continued commodity boom, the State Council also pledged to use more market-based measures to stabilize commodity prices and ensure supplies of power and natural gas during the winter.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
UAE Says It's Unwinding Pandemic Stimulus as Economy Recovers – Bloomberg
The United Arab Emirates has begun winding down an economic support program launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic as the economy shows signs of gradual recovery, the central bank said in a statement.
The reduced reserve requirements for banks won’t change for now and neither will the lower loan-to-value ratio required for first-time home buyers seeking mortgage loans, the bank said. The loan deferral component of the Targeted Economic Support Scheme will expire by the end of 2021 with financial institutions able to carry on tapping a collateralized 50-billion-dirham ($13.6 billion) liquidity facility until the middle of 2022, in line with earlier guidance.
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