Sherpals, a New Service That Mimics Uber for Deliveries

 

Argentina has, or had until recently, a restrictive customs regime by which a number of imported consumer goods, including coveted electronic gadgets and fashion items, were heavily taxed. A new online service, Sherpals, is now matching buyers with travelers, who can pick up any good ordered online and bring it back home for a small fee. The advantages are obvious: one can order from a wider array of goods available in the U.S. or elsewhere, instead of being forced to choose from the more limited, and more expensive, local market. The drawbacks are the same that may apply to Uber or any other of the services that have sprouted in the sharing economy: lack of oversight; transactions between strangers who have not been as vetted as licensed import-export agents, and all the other red flags that the informality of these businesses may arise. Yet there are two lessons: compared to the scale of the business on, say, Airbnb or Uber, incidents appear to be few, which reflects well on the reliability of most people; and second, the Internet keeps skirting restrictions and regulations that appear dated in this new world. Whether we like it or not, the web is here to stay. As usually in history, the law should catch up.

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