Ensuring customer safety in the growing sharing economy

Since Uber and Airbnb changed the way we looked at services, the sharing economy has become a popular go-to for many of us, both as a convenient service, as well as a great way to make some extra money. Show me someone who doesn’t have a friend who has moonlighted as a Grab driver, and I’ll show you someone who’s been living under a rock for the last 10 years.

Although, yes, these services are super-easy to use, are just a click of a button away, are a great way to have a side business without spending much capital, etc., etc., there are also some very important issues that have started to plague this particular system. And since we’re talking about a sharing economy, these issues affect both sides of the transaction—the customer and the service provider.

After the recent news of a passenger being sexually propositioned by the driver she hailed using a ride-share app, the many issues surrounding the sharing economy has once again come to light. Sexual and physical harassment of passengers are a common concern for women, so much so that there have been efforts at gender-segregated ride sharing solutions. There have been cases where tenants of Airbnb have been refused service due to the racial prejudice of the hosts.

On the other side of the coin, the providers of such services face just as many dangers, from property being destroyed heedlessly by partying tenants, to being accosted by ride-hailing robbers, to even, unfortunately, death by murder.

It’s enough to make anyone want to not share.

And while these horror stories get passed on during your usual mamak gathering or in your family WhatsApp group chat, the reality is that we are now too invested in the benefits of the sharing economy to stop using them. We’re talking about apps that serve hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Malaysians each day. The scale is huge.

But the solution? Pretty simple.

While stronger legislation and better consumer habits are both good and even necessary, such businesses which are driven by both data and human behaviour requires better screening. Nowhere is the need for an ongoing, comprehensive, and all-encompassing screening system more crucial than in the sharing economy, where literally anyone can sign up. And this goes both ways—service providers and customers need to be monitored to ensure the safety of both, and it has to be a better system than just star ratings.

Screening thoroughly on a continuous basis may be the one real, controllable solution we have at making our new sharing reality a safer economy, and not just a convenient one.

Find out more about how screening can help keep us safe at www.verityintel.com.

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