AI: The solution to a safer future for the sharing economy

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Robert Prigge, CEO at Jumio takes a look at the sharing economy business model and explains how AI can resolve consumer concerns surrounding this model.

Booking holidays, ordering food, requesting taxis: we all know how easily activities like these can be done via an app. We’re utilising sharing economy services at a rate never seen before, and these apps have been one of the key ways in which we’ve adapted to the world being far from normal. In fact, according to new research conducted by Jumio and YouGov, a quarter of UK adults (25%) are using food delivery apps more than ever, with the younger generation, unsurprisingly, embracing them most: almost half (46%) of those aged between 18 and 24 claims to be using food delivery apps more often.

The sharing economy is poised to become a cornerstone of the post-pandemic economy. PwC estimates that the sector will reach US$335bn by 2025 and that revenues will increase by 2133% by 2025. However, as the industry continues to grow rapidly, these businesses must take stock and address customer concerns.

Safety goes beyond seatbelts

As usage levels indicate, customers are increasingly open to using the services provided by these companies. However, safety remains a core issue. Most importantly, the assurance that the representative from a service, whether that is the host of a holiday apartment or a taxi driver, is who they say they are. Understandably so — what other industry requires you to get in a car with a stranger, rent their home or tell them where you live to deliver your dinner?

If we are to look at ride-hailing apps, for example, a quarter (26%) of UK adults are not confident that the driver is who they claim to be. One of the most notable areas of changing trust levels is dependent on the age of the user. While almost two thirds (60%) of adults aged 18-24 are confident that a driver is who they say they are, this decreases dramatically to 41% of adults aged 35-44, to only 29% of adults aged 45-54 and even further to just 22% of adults over the age of 55.

Other demographics also see lower levels of trust, such as geographic region. The level of trust in drivers’ identities was much higher in London, where almost half are confident that their driver is who they claim to be, compared to other regions where the average falls to 32%. This is perhaps unsurprising as London is the largest user of at least one ride hailing app.

To sustain growth, looking beyond just the younger generations and confines of the big cities must be a key focus. Juliet Eccleston, Sharing Economy UK chair comments on this, saying that: “businesses need to proactively implement the right controls for the level of risk they are carrying in an effort to future-proof their marketplace. The risk becomes greater as platforms scale and with more people recognising the positive impact of sharing, those platforms with good controls and high levels of trust will be set to benefit significantly.”

How AI can keep the sharing economy’s foot on the pedal

So how can companies better instil a higher level of trust when it comes to identity verification? Much of the answer can be found in technology, more specifically, in AI-powered identity verification and authentication solutions. Our research shows that two in five UK adults (42%) want their driver, host or food deliverer to have their identity checked regularly, with a quarter saying that the worker should verify their identity every time they use the app (23%). This may seem excessive as well as time-consuming for employees, but in a world that converges both digital and physical, it’s the clear preference and doesn’t need to be a challenge.

Investment in document-centric, biometric-based identity proofing and ongoing authentication that AI underpins will make it a quick and seamless process. This technology provides the perfect balance between assurance for customers and efficiency for employees. This begins at the account opening stage when the driver, for example, is required to take a photo of their government-issued ID alongside a corroborating selfie using their smartphone, from which a biometric template is created. The selfie is compared to the photo on the ID, ensuring that the person creating an account is who they say they are. When future authentication is needed, the driver takes a new selfie, creating a new biometric template that is immediately compared to the original template.

It also doesn’t have to be an extra worry for the management team as this technology can simply be built into an app’s existing functionality by partnering with an identity corroboration hub provider. By harnessing the expertise of an AI-powered solution built on massive production data sets with a history of millions of identity verifications, this process takes no longer than a few seconds.

The sharing economy is destined to play a key part in how we lead our lives in the years to come, whether we travel or how we eat. However, providers in this space have to maintain their millions of customers and attract new ones by building trust. This is not an impossible challenge, but one with an easy solution through AI-powered identity verification and authentication.


Notes: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,044 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between Feb. 15-16, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast

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