In our monthly participation in the programme L’Altra Ràdio,, to which we have been contributing since March 2017, we have spoken with Cinto Niqui about Platform Cooperativism. Here you can listen to our contribution (in Catalan), or enter the programme, which makes audiovisual culture available to everyone. It talks about Information and Communication Technologies and their impact on contemporary society. Radio, television, internet and apps are the protagonists of this magazine born in 1980, with more than 2200 editions.
Platform Cooperativism is a concept that began to be used about 4 years ago as an alternative to “platform economy”. In both concepts, digital platforms act as intermediaries between those who offer a service and those who receive it, using technology to connect supply and demand. In the platform economy the business structure is cooperative, the workforce owns the business and governs it democratically, in the platform economy this does’nt occurr.
Known digital platforms are: Uber, Cabify for passenger transport or Deliveroo and Glovo for delivery, or Airbnb for accommodation and Amazon for marketing and distribution of goods. They are often financed by capital funds or internally by transferring capital from a very profitable section of the company to another which is not really profitable, and is sustained at a loss.
They have made huge profits through extractivism, extracting wealth from their environment, dispossessing workers, worsening mobility and housing patterns, and destroying local commerce.
Platform cooperativism is an alternative to the extractive platform economy. It is a proposal, currently being built.
Some people think that platform cooperatives should grow, because gaining scale is capital to be profitable, and some people think that what should gain scale is the software needed to create the digital platforms, but the business structures that use that software are better off remaining small and medium-sized cooperatives, which know their environment and how to take care of it. We like this last proposal better, it is more sustainable and more in line with the economy of degrowth, ecology and feminism and commons-oriented, which is clearly necessary to tackle climate change.
There are examples, of platform cooperatives that have been set up and are starting to work by sharing software and doing great teamwork and work on governance. Some examples close to home:
Mensakas (Barcelona), Coop de Pedal (Mataró), La Pájara (Madrid) and other cooperatives and delivery associations in Europe and also in the United States, which are federated into CoopCycle and mutualise services, especially the platform and the mobile application.
Som Mobilitat, a vehicle sharing cooperative, already present throughout Catalonia and participates in The Mobility Factory, a second degree cooperative, in which they share a technological platform with other projects throughout Europe.
Katuma, a community of consumer and production agro-ecological groups that share the online platform for buying and selling products, and which also shares it with the Open Food Network, present in more than 20 countries around the world.
Obviously, not all of the economy is or should be a platform, in order to respond to a large part of people’s needs there is no need to connect through a digital platform.
If you want to listen to the whole programme of l’Altra Radio you will find it in the Podcast (in Catalan)