For China’s sleep-deprived white-collar workers needing a place for a nap, a booming “sharing economy” offering a growing range of services has come up with a cheap, mobile-friendly solution: capsule hotels.
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With an easy phone scan, customers can book a nap in a sleek white capsule – designed to look like a space pod – for just 10 yuan ($1.50) for half an hour during the mid-day rush. The rate drops to only 6 yuan at other times.
“It’s really meeting a rigid demand as many professionals have a difficult time finding a nice private place to nap,” said Han Yue, operations manager at Xiangshui Space, a Beijing-based start-up which launched the services in Beijing in May and has since opened up in Shanghai and Chengdu.
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Han said her capsules were different to Japan’s capsule hotels, because she was targeting a different type of customer, those looking for a quick nap, not a full night of sleep. The company plans to extend to cities such as Qingdao, Nanjing and Shenzhen by the end of July or early August, she said.
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China’s rapidly expanding “sharing economy”, exemplified by the success of bike-sharing companies such as Mobike and Ofo, has inspired a wave of “sharing” enterprises backed by a funding frenzy powered by so-called angel investors and venture capital firms.
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China’s “sharing economy” is expected to grow about 40 percent this year to 4.83 trillion yuan ($705 billion). By 2020, it could account for a tenth of gross domestic product.