Safety In Ridesharing

Trust and safety in Ridesharing – “Don’t get into cars with strangers”

“Don’t get into cars with strangers” is a lesson drilled into most of us when we start to spend time outside unsupervised. Along with a litany of other life rules, some remembered like “don’t eat yellow snow” and some forever lost to the obstinance of a rebellious mind. There is however something about “Don’t get into cars with strangers” that remains with us decades later. Right or wrong, this advice is seen as one of the core rules for staying safe in modern society. 

There used to be only one notable exception to this rule. It’s always been perfectly acceptable to get into a taxi. Unless you live in a very small town, the odds of you knowing the taxi driver are tiny. When it comes to getting into Taxis we subjugate our safety to the taxi driver licensing and vetting process. But what about ridesharing companies? Are we trusting our safety to the fact that our driver has a 4+ star rating or do we place our trust in something else entirely? 

The reality is that when it comes to ride-sharing we fall back on our trust in a brand. There is evidence however that the leading brands are not adequately vetting drivers and ensuring the safety of its riders. This scenario can equally be flipped around. While “don’t get into cars with strangers” is solid and timeless advice, the less used “don’t let strangers into your car” a.k.a. “don’t pick up hitchhikers” is just as relevant here. Platforms must also do what they can to ensure the safety of the drivers, whether they are employees or independent contractors, as well as the passengers themselves.

There is no magical “Minority Report”-esque solution to ensuring total trust and safety in any sharing economy endeavor. We simply cannot know beforehand if a person is going to perpetrate fraud or commit an act of theft, violence or vandalism. While we cannot foresee the future, we can take concrete steps to improve the trust and safety of sharing economy transactions. That is important not just for the inherent moral responsibility of ensuring people’s safety but it is also crucial for the bottom line. A PwC study, conducted in 2015, showed that only 11% of the respondents were willing to participate in sharing transactions if they did not feel trust towards the brand and other users on the brand’s platform. 

Building trust in Ridesharing with verified Real-life identities

In the past, it has been remarkably difficult for any ridesharing businesses to accurately and efficiently verify the identities of people transacting on their platform without driving them away with excessive friction. The result is that many ridesharing platforms lack not the will but the ability to keep bad actors from joining the platform. Without the ability to establish a 1:1 match between the digital and real-world identities of participants, keeping bad actors off the platform once discovered becomes all but impossible. While the majority of platform participants are trustworthy, multiple cases of serious crime and fraud in this space have proven that those bad actors, although few, can severely impact the reputation and trustworthiness of a platform and endanger the safety of both drivers and riders.

Confirming the real-world identities of platform participants, and ensuring they remain in possession of their verified accounts, has three clear and practical benefits: 

  1. When a person’s digital identity is corroborated by their real-world identity, people are less likely to exhibit antisocial, abusive or criminal behavior. In other words, people who have used their real-world identities as the basis to drive or ride on a platform behave better and are more trustworthy than those who have used credentials that are, or can be, disconnected from their real-life identity.
  2. Requiring government-issued IDs to form a digital identity on a platform actively deters criminals from joining the platform as proffering your own real-life credentials to establish an account intended for fraudulent use is not the first choice of a criminal. While other methods to establish digital identities (i.e., social login, email verification, phone verification, etc.) are easily spoofed, shared, or stolen, it is an order of magnitude more difficult to acquire and use a fraudulent or stolen real-life identity document when the identity verification process requires an individual to pass a liveness check and facial recognition comparison between the ID picture and the person registering.
  3. With a 1:1 match between real-life identities and digital identities, it is far easier to keep bad actors off a platform once they have been removed. Banning the digital account of bad actors will ban their real-life identity and not just their digital account. This means these individuals cannot simply rejoin later under another set of credentials unrelated to their real-life identities. 

The last two points above are pretty self-explanatory: requiring a real-life identity to form a digital identity is less attractive to criminals, and it is easier to keep bad actors off a platform if you can ban their real-life identity and not just their digital one. The first point, however (people behave better when acting under their real-life identities), deserves a little elaboration.

In 1969, APS Fellow Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University found that study participants who had their names and faces hidden were twice as likely to comply with an order to electrocute fellow study participants than those that had their identity (face or name tag) visible. Zimbardo’s study was the first in a rich body of psychological research that draws a direct link between anonymity and abusive or criminal behavior. This research suggests that humans simply have a higher tendency to act rudely, aggressively, or criminally when their identities are hidden. For this reason, it is critical that ridesharing platforms build trust and safety based on verified real-world identities. Without this capability, these online platforms become the perfect environment for antisocial behavior, fraud, and other activities that are detrimental to the overall viability of the business.

Authenteq’s solution facilitates trust in three primary ways:

  1. Authenteq can verify the identity of each person on the platform in less than 60 seconds. This means that each person participating in a transaction is doing so under their real identity, which as explained above is scientifically proven to facilitate good behavior and adherence to community rules.
  2. Authenteq confirms, through government-grade facial recognition, that the person proffering the identity documents being used to establish a verified identity is the person those documents were issued to and not someone who has fraudulently acquired valid identity documents. This effectively eliminates identity fraud on the platform as well as other fraudulent and criminal behavior that the perpetrators are unwilling to commit under their own identity. 
  3. With Authenteq verifying the identity of each new person joining the platform, bad actors who have previously been banned can be kept off the platform with far more reliability than before.
  4. Through Authenteq’s Selfie Authentication trust in the real-life identity of people on the platform can be periodically re-established, thus ensuring that both the driver and the person hailing the ride are the people they claim to be and not the driver’s unverified and unvetted friend or a rider using a stolen account.

Authenteq provides the technology to ensure that we neither pick-up or ride with total strangers. In addition to this, Authenteq has built its solution from the ground up with privacy by design as a leading principle. This means that any company that chooses Authenteq over other identity providers gets an added benefit: people’s trust in the company and the brand is bolstered by seeing in action that the security and privacy of their personal data, as well as their personal safety, is something the company pays more than lip service to. We can verify riders and drivers while at the same time ensuring their identities are treated with the utmost respect. 

Authenteq simply provides Real-Time Identity Verification for ridesharing without compromising on security, privacy or usability.