While the UK begins to cautiously return to some semblance of normality, seeing diners in restaurants and people enjoying weekends away reminds us of some of our pre-pandemic pastimes. However, we can’t forget how the past year shifted our lives online and required us to create new habits. From ordering meals to our doorstep or renting a cottage instead of a hotel for a staycation, the pandemic drove demand for sharing economy apps. Our recent research with YouGov shows that a quarter of UK adults (25%) are using food delivery apps more than ever, with almost half (46%) of those aged between 18 and 24 using them more often than before.
We’ve also seen broader movements in the sharing economy space. The Supreme Court recently ruled that drivers must be treated as workers rather than self-employed and we saw one food delivery app IPO. Paired with our increased usage, these milestones reiterate how much the sharing economy now forms part of consumers’ lives.
Building trust in the sharing economy
But while the popularity of sharing economy apps is increasing, there are still concerns that need to be addressed for the industry to continue to flourish. One key area for consideration is around ensuring that the representative from the service is who they claim to be.
To put this into context, a quarter (26%) of UK adults are not confident that the driver is who they say they are when using ride-hailing apps. Particularly noticeable is how trust wanes with age; while almost two thirds (60%) of UK adults aged 18-24 are confident, this decreases dramatically to just 41% for adults aged 35-44, 29% for those aged 45-54 and to only 22% for the over 55 category. Considering that 78% of people over 55 have never used a ride-hailing app, yet arguably could stand to benefit greatly from this service, this issue must be addressed if these services are to service a broader audience.
Trust in drivers’ identities is also dependent on geographical regions. Looking at London, almost half (48%) of participants feel confident that their driver is who they claim to be, but compared to other regions across the UK, the average falls to 34% (excluding London). Although this is perhaps unsurprising due to the scale of the London market for ride-hailing apps, “businesses need to proactively implement the right controls for the level of risk they are carrying in an effort to future-proof their marketplace,” says Juliet Eccleston, Sharing Economy UK chair. “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 biometrics can win over public trust One way businesses can minimise risk is by embracing AI-powered identity verification and authentication solutions. Our research reveals 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%). While this may seem excessive, to win the hearts and minds of consumers, these organisations must respond. And identity verification can be a quick and seamless process, whilst also providing assurance for customers, if done well.