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COVID-19: Gig economy creates jobs, healthy competition



KUALA LUMPUR: The Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented since March 18 following the outbreak of COVID-19 has indirectly transformed the daily lives of the people and bolstered the popularity of the gig economy which has changed the economic landscape drastically.

Dr Zaharuddin Abdul Rahman, adjunct professor of the business faculty at the University of Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) and Universiti Selangor (Unisel), said the MCO and COVID-19 have in fact spurred a lot of job opportunities and healthy competition in the gig economy.

In line with this, he said industry players from various sectors such as manufacturing, education, finance, as well as retail and logistics have to be fast in exploring the gig economy to tackle the present economic crisis and as a preparation for post-COVID-19 period that would certainly be more difficult.

In terms of the retail and logistics sectors, this economic segment has benefited various industry players particularly those that have long ventured into the digital services platform such as virtual supermarkets like Amazon, Shopee and Lazada, as well as Grab, Foodpanda and Lalamove services.

“For now, industry players are working hard to develop digital platforms to fulfil the spike in demand from consumers. There are dozens of food and merchandise delivery platforms trying to enter the market as the existing companies are not able to cater for all the demand effectively.

“In terms of economic perspectives, this is a healthy competition and development. However, new industry players are left far behind among the more matured and established companies,” he told Bernama.

In addition, he said, even though gig economy has become more readily accepted, exposure, education, as well as training on the sector should not be ignored as there are many that are still not ready to use the digital platform fully especially in the finance sector.

“Although the sector was among the earliest to introduce e-wallet, cashless transactions, robotics investment, online banking business including mobile applications, there are many who are still comfortable with doing business the conventional way due to various factors such as security and reliability,” he said.

With the rapid development in technology and growth of the gig economy, it is not impossible in the future for industry players in the manufacturing sector to consider the usage of robotics automation to replace human resources in reducing the risks that could affect the sector, he added.

Zaharuddin said the COVID-19 pandemic has also spurred the active adoption of digital platform in the education sector to ensure students do not miss their subject syllabus.

Now, the industry has seen the emergence of new digital platform including private tutoring web and Android-based application known as MyClaaz.com developed by a Bumiputera company.

Generally, he concluded that the gig economy segment is poised to overtake the traditional sector and attract investors due to its potential to continue to expand in sync with technological advancement.

Nevertheless, it will not be smooth sailing for Malaysia to enhance the gig economy as there are several obstacles, namely the Internet speed which is not yet fully developed, infrastructure which is only limited to several sectors such as fintech or financial technology, as well as potential attacks from hackers and identity thefts.

Additionally, he said the majority of people in the rural areas are still not ready to adopt gig economy applications in their daily lives.

— BERNAMA





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