Is there enough trust in the sharing economy?
Companies hoping to succeed in the sharing economy space need to do more to address the growing issue of trust in the now booming sector.
That is according to Jin Ng, head of data and trends at easyCar.com, who says that the sharing economy has been growing for many years but digitalisation of this marketplace has enabled it to thrive.
As it grows, however, it has continued to face new and increasing challenges.
“As demonstrated by Transport for London’s recent ban on Uber in London, many of these challenges come down to trust or the lack of it between users themselves, or users and the companies,” he said.
“Trust is vital to the sharing economy as all of these companies are asking people to put themselves or their possessions in the hands of strangers.”
Trust in the sharing economy takes on a whole new level of importance and can be divided into tangible and intangible trust assets.
While physical checks and balances such as secure payment processing and identity verification are important to building a strong reputation, Ng says there are other elements of trust that are harder to define but which companies need to take seriously.
“The classic example of this is Uber. With many high-profile stories of sexual assault, a number of people shied away from the service and TfL recently went as far as to ban the app in the capital,” he says.
“Intangible trust assets are important in maintaining the reputation of a sharing economy company and ensuring that people begin and continue to use the service.”
However, Ng argues that some services – such as allowing a stranger to babysit your children – require far more trust than others and there’s a balance to be struck between streamlining the user experience and building trust mechanisms to make users feel safe.
“Make the sign-up process too long and prescriptive and people will give up halfway through, but make the sign-up process too lax and nobody (including policymakers and governmental decision makers) will trust that you’re protecting your members,” he says.
“Something many in the industry would like to see is a standardised peer rating system that carries a user’s reputation from one platform to another.
“This will make it easier to for sites to verify users that are on multiple platforms and keep those that rent their services safe.
“The importance of trust in the sharing economy cannot be overstated and it will be those that take this issue seriously and take steps to increasing trust that will, ultimately, come out as successful platforms."
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