The global sharing economy has continued its path to growth, with one study finding more than 86 million United States consumers alone are now using some kind of sharing service. This includes booking rides with apps such as Lyft or Uber, finding freelancers or part-time workers on sites like Fiverr, or ordering food delivery from third-party platforms.
It is more important than ever for services inside this space to keep their customers engaged as it grows more competitive and as lingering public health and safety fears may impact consumers’ trust. This means ensuring both their drivers, couriers or other workers as well as customers are protected against fraud as bad actors increasingly target these platforms with new identity theft and fraud scams. Sharing economy platforms must take the proper precautions to ensure they can easily differentiate between legitimate customers and fraudsters, both to ensure users’ physical safety as well as that of their online information.
In the latest Future of Identity Report, PYMNTS examines how the sharing economy has continued to expand over the past year and why this is only heightening the need for robust digital identification measures among participating companies. It also analyzes what tools and technologies may prove key to meeting this need.
Around The Identity Verification Space
Accommodating users’ payment preferences is a critical part of retaining their loyalty, but it can sometimes leave companies open to fraudsters. Supporting peer-to-peer (P2P) apps, such as Venmo, or accepting prepaid gift cards is convenient for customers — especially those who may lack bank accounts, enabling them to access sharing economy services — but these methods often have more relaxed identification standards. Rideshare Uber has moved to combat this by requiring U.S. consumers who wish to use an anonymous payment method to upload identity documents such as their drivers’ licenses or passports. The move will help protect against fraudsters both targeting their online platform and those looking to use anonymous payment methods to perpetuate physical crimes such as carjacking.
Uber’s choice to require additional identity documents for consumers using anonymous payment methods also comes as many customers are turning to their phones first when interacting with rideshares or other sharing economy companies. They are also becoming more comfortable with emerging authentication tools tailored to fit their smartphones. This includes biometrics, which are becoming more widely connected to mobile devices. One study found 95 percent of smartphones globally are expected to be equipped with facial or fingerprint scanners by 2025, for example. Examining how such tools could be used for their own verification purposes should thus be a top goal of sharing economy companies.
Other firms within the sharing space are also tapping emerging authentication tools as this need intensifies, including biometrics such as fingerprint or facial recognition technologies. United Kingdom-based food delivery service Deliveroo recently began testing out facial recognition features for its couriers, for example. The pilot of the feature started in May and requires certain selected couriers to upload selfies to be used for identity verification. The tool then requests photos of the drivers at random and will match against the previously uploaded selfie to ensure the couriers are who they say they are. The move will also help Deliveroo keep more careful track of how food is being delivered, creating an additional layer of safety for both couriers and customers.
For more on these and other stories, visit the Report’s News & Trends.
Why Sharing Economy Companies Must Put Digital Verification First
Consumers are returning to sharing economy services such as vehicle sharing in higher numbers, a positive sign for continued growth in the space. This means determining individuals are who they say they are is more important than ever, especially as more of them turn to faceless digital or mobile solutions to book such rides.
Creating robust digital verification solutions that can easily determine legitimate customers from fraudsters is therefore essential, explained Shirly Kalush, chief business development officer for mobility company GoTo Global in a PYMNTS interview.
To learn more about the importance of robust digital verification solutions for sharing economy companies, visit the Report’s Feature Story.
Deep Dive: How Biometrics Can Help Sharing Economy Companies Match Shifting Identity Verification Needs
Sharing economy companies must ensure they can differentiate between fraudsters and legitimate customers, but they must do so in a way that meets customers’ expectations both for speed and security. They must also look to protect the physical as well as the online safety of their users, which means many of them may need to reconsider the way they think about digital identity from the start. Implementing technologies such as biometrics is one way these companies could add an additional layer of verification that could allow them to meet consumers’ changing preferences as well.
To learn more about how sharing economy companies must rethink their identity verification approaches and what role technologies such as biometrics can play here, visit the Report’s Deep Dive.
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