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Trust and the sharing economy: ID verification vs ratings and reviews

Deemly is a reputation and social verification tool for peer-to-peer marketplaces and sharing economy businesses that enables users to transfer their reputation across the web. GUARDHOG is delighted that Sara Green Brodersen, CEO and co-founder, is sharing her ‘trusttech’ insights with us.

 

Sara, what does ID verification mean for the sharing economy?

It sounds complicated but it’s so simple. It just means users can be sure the person on the other end of the transaction is actually who they say they are. So users must provide proof of their identity (with a Government-issued identity like an NI number) in order for a given platform to verify their profile. It’s important because it increases accountability for participants and ensures user safety.

 

So where does Deemly fit in – what’s your solution?

We make it easier for new platforms to acquire users and established platforms to re-engage inactive users. People need to feel safe while engaging in sharing transactions, and might not want to meet someone that has no viewable information on their platform profile. By allowing users to view each other’s holistic digital profile – compiled from their ratings and reviews on other sharing platforms as well as social media profiles – we break down ‘trust barriers’ between platform participants.

 

So, ID verification is part of the bigger picture, which is about trust. Why is trust particularly important for the sharing economy?

Despite its many uses, ID verification isn’t necessarily the best way to facilitate growth for sharing economy platforms. Just because a person is who they say they are, they aren’t necessarily trustworthy. In fact, forthcoming research on this topic suggests that ratings and reviews are what builds most trust in a P2P transaction.

 

Trust is a belief, a perception – how do you commoditise this into something that can be measured?

Trust is arbitrary so in the end it’s up to the individual user to decide how much information they need about another person for them to trust each other. The commoditisation comes into play when you compare how your trustworthiness (i.e. your ratings and reviews) are reflected in your income from a transaction such as renting out your home on Airbnb. We use ‘trust scores’ to represent trustworthiness and to easily be deciphered. But it’s also important to allow users to make their own judgments by reading the reviews other users have received of their entire profiles. Most importantly, all this information has to be accessible and easy to implement on any sharing platform.

 

So what can platforms do to ensure the ID verification of their users (both service providers and service users)

Platforms can require copies of individuals’ government ID or do background checks. It’s important, however, that platforms understand why they do it and consider their strategic choices. Is this to be compliant with an insurance provider? Or are they really trying to solve a trust issue, which in that case, ID verification might not be the best and cost-effective solution. We’re happy to discuss the various choices out there if anyone has questions – get in touch at www.deemly.co.

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