At HooYu HQ we’re busy working with sharing economy brands and peer-to-peer sites to help them bring trust and confidence to their online communities.   Many companies in this fast-growing segment are keen to make sure that their customers are who they say they are so they can offer a well-lit marketplace that attracts new users.  However, not all marketplaces are created equal as the selection of quotes in the attached graphic shows:

For the HooYu Trust & Identity in the Sharing Economy Report we surveyed 1,000 Brits and 1,000 Americans to reveal stats on participation, identity and trust in the sharing economy.  The stats show that less than a third of Brits but over two thirds of Americans have used sharing economy sites.   Once auction sites such as craigslist or Gumtree are removed from the stats, participation rates plummet with as little as 14% of people across both markets yet to participate in the one of the sharing economy’s most popular pastimes – renting a holiday property.

One of the main themes to emerge from our research was that identity & trust are holding back many potential users from joining the sharing revolution.  In fact, we found that 61% of people are unlikely to use a sharing economy site unless they had assurance around the identity of the other party in the transaction.

So given the low participation rates and uncertainty around transacting with strangers one of the key aims for sharing economy sites must be to create trust and confidence in sharing property, assets or skills with an unknown stranger.  Which is why we found it odd that this assorted bunch of caveat emptors appeared in the terms of conditions of several sharing economy sites.

So is user verification on the internet difficult?  No it is not!  Enter an unlikely champion, the online gambling industry.  Often defamed and much maligned, the online gambling industry has since 2005 been a pioneer of online identity verification to make sure that customers are at least 18 and to guard against money laundering.  Lots of good work by the Remote Gambling Association and the UK Gambling Commission paved the way for industry standards where customer identity must be verified before a customer can gamble online.

Efforts in other online industries have, by comparison fallen short.  Age verification on online retail sites is sporadic.  As such, alcohol, adult content, tobacco and blades are easily bought online with many sites implementing no form of identity checking.

So it’s good news then that Sharing Economy UK is now implementing a Trustmark for the sharing economy and are looking at ways in which sharing platforms can offer their customers a way to be assured around the identity of other parties in the sharing transaction.

HooYu of course has been designed not just for businesses to verify their customers, but also for one person to verify the identity of another person. See more on how HooYu brings trust to sharing economy sites here.

However, to come back to the above disclaimers on various sharing economy sites.

“User verification on the Internet is difficult”. NO IT’S NOT!