As the sharing economy continues to gain momentum, the importance of security and trust between users is becoming increasingly apparent. Not only the Airbnb incident in June 2011 or the shutdown of the luxury carsharing company HiGear have shown that peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces involve higher risks than business-to-consumer e-commerce. The key advocates of the sharing economy Rachel Botsman and Lisa Gansky have also identified “trust between strangers” as a necessary foundation for the functioning of P2P asset-sharing marketplaces. While the existing reputation systems such as eBay’s rating system may have been sufficient for e-commerce, the newer P2P platforms, such as car or flat sharing, require more complex trust systems. Since acting anonymously is far easier on the Web than in real life, P2P transactions also call for some type of identity verification, that confirms that you are who you say you are. Having recognized these issues, several entrepreneurs in different countries have begun to build portable cross-platform trust and identity systems meant to facilitate the sharing of assets between individuals, such as TrustCloud, Briiefly, Legit and Peertrust.
By Francesca Pick
Image by opensourceway on Flickr.