About one in six Australians aged over 18 have an Airbnb account, new figures show, and there are now 54,000 Uber drivers across the country and 2.4 million riders using the Uber app. The 'sharing economy', or 'peer-to-peer' services, are being embraced by millions of consumers globally, but rules and regulations have not kept pace. Australian courts are regularly having to rule on whether these, and similar services setting up in competition, have breached existing local, state and federal laws. "Regulators will need to ensure platforms do not abuse the power they acquire as their user bases grow," Grattan Institute productivity growth program director Jim Minifie said in a recent report on the sharing economy. Airbnb and Uber have also come under fire for the low level of taxes they pay locally. \nAirbnb to reach 100,000 local listings Australia's been a fast growth market for the online home-sharing service, which in 2008 was co-founded by US tech entrepreneurs Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, and has the backing of Hollywood heart-throb Ashton Kutcher. Airbnb opened its Sydney office in 2012, and there are about 18.5 per cent of Australians aged over 18 with an Airbnb account. As of December 2016 there were more than 87,000 listings on Airbnb in Australia. By end of this month it is expected almost 100,000 Australian homes will be listed in the Airbnb platform, more than double the number the same time last year. The company, which late last year was valued at about US$30 billion, receives service fees (up to 12 per cent) from both guests and hosts in conjunction with every booking. Sydney is now one of Airbnb's top 10 cities globally, with more than 22,000 local listings. The city was also the fourth most popular city to rent on the platform on New Year's Eve behind New York, Paris and London. "Overwhelmingly, Airbnb hosts in Australia are everyday people – mums and dads, seniors and young families – who occasionally list their primary residence or spare room to make a modest extra bit of income," an Airbnb spokesman said. \nUber has 54,000 drivers Ride-sharing service Uber, which now serves more than eight million passengers in about 70 countries, has also seen rapid local growth. Uber, which was valued at US$68 billion in December 2016, came to Australia in April 2014. There are now 54,000 drivers across the country and 2.4 million riders registered on the Uber app. "More than 50 per cent of Uber drivers across Australia drive fewer than 10 hours a week," an Uber spokesman said. But rules and regulations are failing to keep up with the rapid growth of sharing economy services. Uber has mounted a legal challenge against the Australian Taxation Office after the agency said it would force thousands of Uber drivers to register for and pay GST. And in June last year a landlord successfully booted her tenants from a Melbourne apartment after they illegally rented it out through Airbnb. Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the government needed to ensure that regulators, operators and consumers do not continue to languish without rules that fit the new sharing economy. Grattan's report Peer-to-peer pressure, How the government should make the most of the sharing economy, called for reform of competition, consumer and tax policy. \nCall to compensate taxi drivers The report made several recommendations to policymakers, including that state governments follow the lead of ACT, NSW and Western Australia and legalise ride-sharing, but with minimum safety requirements. The report suggested the impact of Uber and other similar services such as GoGet on the traditional taxi industry be dealt with via state governments lowering taxi and hire-car licence prices, with the possibility of compensation for those people who bought taxi licences recently and/or who suffer severe financial hardship. The report suggested laws surrounding short-stay accommodation also limit noise and loss of amenity and that state governments give owners' corporations more powers to control short-stay rentals, including the power to ban them. The report also made several recommendations to regulators, including calling on the ACCC to adapt existing competition law principles to the peer-to-peer economy. \nTax take needs to grow The report also noted that multinationals like Uber and Airbnb were engaging in tax minimisation, as a recent Senate inquiry into tax avoidance had heard. Uber says it paid $2.5 million in tax in Australia in 2016. Uber's director of public policy Brad Kitschke admitted at the inquiry that about 25 per cent of each transaction in Australia is routed to its head company in the Netherlands. And Airbnb's country manager Sam McDonagh said there is a 3 per cent fee applied to booking in Australia. So if a transaction is $100, $97 of that goes into the host's pocket and $3 goes to Airbnb Ireland. The Grattan report said: "Taxation laws should be tightened to ensure that the tax take does not fall as the peer-to-peer economy grows". THE SHARING ECONOMY: QUICK FACTS - Airbnb has over 2 million listings in 34,000 cities and almost 200 countries worldwide. As of December there were more than 87,000 listings on Airbnb in Australia. - On average Australians hosting on Airbnb earn about $4500 a year by listing their home for 28 nights a year. The average age of Australian hosts is 44 and the average stay per guest at an Australian Airbnb listing is 3.6 nights. - Airbnb's top five destinations Australians travel to are Paris, London, New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles. Airbnb's top five origins of Airbnb guests to Australia are Singapore, London, Hong Kong, Auckland and Paris. - Globally, more than two million guests stayed at an Airbnb on New Year's Eve around the world. Australia ranked the fourth busiest destination for Airbnb on New Year's Eve, after New York, Paris and London. - Sydney sits between fifth and eighth most popular location globally for Airbnb bookings (fluctuating with seasons). - Uber now serves more than eight million passengers in about 70 countries. There are now 54,000 drivers across Australia and 2.4 million riders registered on the Uber app. - More than 50 per cent of Uber drivers across Australia drive fewer than 10 hours a week.