The sudden and swift growth of the Sharing Economy, also referred to as the Peer-to-Peer Economy, has challenged the status quo. Innovation always does.
While it certainly has stimulated lively debate among incumbent industries, the reality is that this phenomenon is far from a passing trend: its size was estimated at $110B in 2013 and it is expected to triple to $335B in the next decade.
As with any industry that evolves and begins to mature, we observe Sharing Economy companies increasingly encountering challenges that can dampen their rate of growth if not dealt with expediently.
For the digital marketplaces of the Sharing Economy, a critical factor in their development is the sense of trustworthiness that participants confer upon it, and by extension, each other.
Without this credibility, an exchange may risk loss of its member base and eventually fade into irrelevance. To understand how, just consider some scenarios:
- How do you know that the college student running your personal errands does not have a history of theft?
- Are you confident that the nice lady providing you with medical advice over the internet is actually a qualified medical professional?
- How do you know that the driver of your vehicle does not have a record of drunk driving?
The list of examples goes on and on and, unfortunately, we don’t always know the answer. That’s because, to date, unless the Sharing Economy company appropriately background screens its members, there has been no good way of knowing.
So in some cases we’ve been forced to rely solely on user reviews and ratings systems to give us a hint. But is there a way to complement these, to provide us consumers (and the providers) with better insight for more informed decision making?
And can it be done without impeding the growth of the marketplace? As it turns out, the answer is “yes.” The background screening industry is already well established and has been addressing precisely these issues for employers for years. Extending it to digital marketplaces is a logical (and practical) extension.
What has been your experience? Have you experienced a demand from your marketplace for more security and trust? Are you seeing your growth stagnating or experiencing operational constraints trying to meet the demand? If you have explored different ways of delivering a more trustworthy experience, please share it in the comments below.
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