There may be regulatory and legal battles, but technology has given us economic revolution

Christian May
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Airbnb has adapted to counter criticism about long-term leasing (Source: Getty)

Tech giants seem to be forever fire-fighting.

Whether its Uber's ongoing and global battle with regulators, Amazon's debate over taxes or Google's current competition row with the EU, we see regulatory and legal battles dogging the providers and platforms that are used by millions of consumers every day.

These are important debates, and very often they're the consequence of a company outpacing legislation or testing it with the rate of their expansion.

Read more: Google launches appeal against €2.4bn EU fine

Governments must balance support for new technology with the development of appropriate rules and requirements. But we must not lose sight of the huge benefits that the digital revolution has brought to consumers.

As policymakers attempt to keep up with these new forces, with varying degrees of wisdom and success, the economic gains are clear to see.

One prominent participant in this new digital globalisation is Airbnb, which yesterday published its first report on their UK market - released at a time when Airbnb faces challenges from incumbent accommodation providers and criticism from local authorities who accuse it, not always unjustly, of distorting the rental market in cities from Bristol to Barcelona.

Yet while these arguments play out, the benefits of the platform are undeniable. Since July last year, over £650m has been made by people renting out either a room or a whole property.

Following criticism that landlords were using the site to arrange long-term leases, Airbnb introduced a system preventing “entire home listings” for more than 90 nights per year, and they claim that over 75 per cent of hosts rent out their primary residence - offering their home for rent when they're away.

Read more: Why Airbnb has been a good thing for aparthotels

London has 64,000 active listings and the typical London host rents out their property for an average of 40 nights a year.

The company claims to have generated over £1.6bn of economic activity in the capital since July 2016. People are sweating their assets – making a little extra money while offering an alternative to hotels.

Indeed, it is London's outer boroughs that are seeing the fastest growth in Airbnb registrations, ensuring economic gains are spread beyond the central zones.

Regulatory battles will rage but while they do, let's remember the individuals who are empowered by the tech giants' revolution.

Read more: Ibis owner Accorhotels is taking on Airbnb with its new ventures

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