How to Verify User Identity on an On-Demand Platform? Part One of the User Journey Series
This is the first part of the 8 part series called ‘User Journey on an On-Demand Business Platform‘
For there to be any transactions on a platform, the customer needs to be able to trust the platform to provide him/her with a product or service that is promised, and the service provider needs to trust the platform to provide them with genuine customers who want to consume their service. For example, incidents of passengers hacking into Uber’s system to get free rides or using unfair practices aren’t unheard of. All the same, Uber has also been taken for a ride by scammer drivers wanting to earn more profits. The primary method of being able to source that trust is to establish the ‘user identity’ or the identity of the stakeholders. We have attempted to touch on various aspects of user identity that should answer the questions you may have in mind about this module.
Defining a Unique User
From a platform owner’s perspective (your perspective), it is essential that the same person isn’t linked to more than one account. This is essential so that no one person benefits unfairly from using the app, for example, repeatedly redeeming offers exclusively for first time users. For each user, the following must be unique:
- Phone Number
- Email ID
This means that the same person won’t be allowed to create another account with the same phone number and email id.
Ways of Verifying User Identity
The first step to establish user identity is asking the stakeholders for their personal details. Verifying these personal details is where things get complicated. The following methods are being used for verification:
Phone Number Verification
OTP (One Time Password) : One of the simplest methods for verification is to use a one time password that is sent to the respective phone number. The user needs to enter that one time password to start using the application. As SMS is more quickly read than email, OTPs are generally used where a user’s mobile number is mandatory to make an account.
Flash Calls : To confirm that the phone number provided by the user is correct, a flash call is placed to the user. The app can detect the call received and verifies the user account as genuine.
Users give their email ids more readily than their phone numbers, so many platforms send a verification link to the user’s email ids. Upon clicking on the link, the account is verified.
Social Media Login
Users also have the option to login with their social media profiles. While this makes manually filling in details redundant, it also gives the app access to important personal information like a person’s name, date of birth, email id and friend list. Several ridesharing applications have a mandatory social media login as each rider can browse the social media profile before accepting other riders to share the ride with them. In this way, leveraging the identity already established by the person on the social networking site, the platform can source trust to other users and service providers.
To ensure that a person is filling in the required details to make an account and it isn’t a robot or via an automated procedure, a captcha is introduced. It can be in the form of a complex code in an image that the user has to read and replicate or a simple puzzle. For eg., users might be asked to fill in the answer to (10 + 2 = ?) or identify desserts from photographs of food items.
We need an identity verification API to verify user identity on the platform. Some popular examples are:
Email Verification : Mandrill, Sendgrid, Amazon SES
Phone number Verification : Sinch, Nexmo, Twilio
Social Login Verification : Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn SDKs
You can also integrate additional verification features on your platform like Flash Calls and Voice Verification. Read more here.
EXAMPLE OF APP SCREENS DURING CUSTOMER VERIFICATION
Identity of Service Provider
In addition to the above methods, it is imperative to have a more stringent verification process for your service providers because as the platform owner, you are responsible for the quality of service. For example, Uber received a lot of flak with its verification procedure when issues started to emerge, like drivers misbehaving with their customers, though Uber employs a three-step screening process in the US to vet the quality of service providers coming on its on-demand platform. AirBnB too started verifying user identity to end anonymity in the on-demand economy , as an important method to verify people coming on the platform. Background checks or verification of service providers could be done in the following ways:
You can manually verify the documents uploaded on your platform. How extensive the check is depends on your business vertical. For example, you may need freelancers to upload their resumes and proofs of educational qualifications on a crowdsourcing platform whereas a more stringent check like pulling out criminal records might be necessary for drivers on a cab on demand platform.
Verification by APIs
It is possible to evaluate background reports for users by integrating an identity verification API with your app. These APIs help you verify a user’s national and county criminal records, driving history, SSN verification, previous addresses and are verified against a variety of databases including Medicare, Credit Bureau, Property File, Electoral Roll, consumer records, Driver License Registry, national databases etc. The APIs we currently use for background checks are:
Background Verification : Checkr, Onboard IQ, TrueHire
EXAMPLE OF APP SCREENS DURING SERVICE PROVIDER VERIFICATION
Protecting User Identity
Personal information is captured when a customer signs up on your app and they may not want those details to be shared with a service provider or vice versa. To enhance security of user identity data, we can add another layer of safety by integrating the following feature in your app:
- Number Masking : At times when a service provider has to get in touch with the customer or vice versa, number masking has to be implemented in order to safeguard the privacy of the person. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) APIs enable customers to interact with service providers and vice versa from within the app without revealing their number.
Go to Part 2/8 : ‘Know the Tech behind the Scheduling Methodology of your On-Demand Platform’ here >>>
If you are looking to build a platform for an on-demand business where you can verify customer and service provider identity without any hassles, get in touch with us today!
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