Identity Pioneers in Ride Sharing

Nametag Team
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If you’re a frequent ride sharing user you’ve probably collected your own various stories of difficult drivers, nervous moments, incorrect addresses and dangerous near misses. Looking at all of these potential issues can make you ask yourself several important questions:

  • How do you know who is driving you around?
  • Should you know who is driving you around?
  • Does the company even know who is driving you around?
  • When the driver got into the car that day to start working, did anyone correctly identify the driver?

As the world begins to open, especially with new thoughts on what safety means, people are asking these questions more and more. As a digital identity company, Nametag wanted to delve into what some of the biggest players are doing in hopes of giving other emerging ride sharing companies - and users - a clear picture of what these companies could, should, or are doing now.

Biometric Authentication and Privacy

The ride sharing titans like Uber are making advancements, albeit in fits and starts, with biometric authentication tools in order to validate that their drivers are who they say they are - maintaining a level of safety and security for both the user and Uber’s employee account. Their process involves matching the driver’s selfie to a previously submitted photo. For user privacy, they are making enormous strides in making sure that their data is anonymized so as to make your travel, geo location, ride requests and other data points, anonymous. 

While other big data behemoths, namely Amazon and Google, are building algorithms intent on vacuuming up as much user data as possible in order to monetize user behaviors, Uber in particular has spent the last 5 years focusing on user privacy by building something they call “Elastic Sensitivity”, capable of masking much of the users data.

Driver Authentication

In another security and identity advancement, both Uber and Lyft have started utilizing Microsoft’s FACE API technology to authenticate drivers. Though there have been multiple legal bouts challenging the use of this kind of technology, mostly around clunky user experience and failed recognition for people of color, the companies maintain that they must use biometric authentication. In a statement from Uber, they validated their approach;

​​”Our Real-Time ID Check is designed to protect the safety and security of everyone who uses the Uber app by helping ensure the correct driver is behind the wheel. The system includes robust human review to make sure that this algorithm is not making decisions about someone’s livelihood in a vacuum, without oversight.”

Real-time, continuous authentication is essential for what Uber is trying to achieve. Uber is right to protect the riders by making sure that the driver’s identity has been verified, so in the event of any issues, the rightful driver is held accountable. As is with any business, you need to know the user that signs in to work each day is who they say they are and not an impersonator that exposes the business and your community to greater risk. Identity verification needs to be continuous and real-time, similar to other more basic ID processes and verifications for office, factory or retail workers. The world is trending towards the use of face matching authentication, not away from it.

As a digital identity company focused on privacy, we’ve built “Sign in with ID” to solve the challenges for security and safety in ride sharing communities. Our proprietary Multi-Factor Identity™ technology allows drivers to run a Face Match against their Government issued ID by taking a selfie photo from their device. With Nametag, drivers can sign in to their accounts with a verified identity in seconds, every time they use the app.

Selfie Chaining

To solve the problem of face matching failure that has plagued the Microsoft FACE API, we’ve introduced Selfie Chaining, which validates a user’s current selfie against a chain of historical images they’ve taken to sign in with ID across their daily lives. This enables our technology to capture nuances in someone's facial biometrics over time regardless of race, gender, age, etc - helping to achieve 99% or more fidelity of the individual.

Sign in with ID is a more secure way to authenticate users online. It’s streamlined and efficient; advancing identity authentication for the future of internet safety. Partnering with Nametag empowers other ride sharing companies to raise their standards of user experience and rider safety, while offering privacy and security to all users. 

As the competition over ride sharing continues to evolve, with new players coming online and the world opening up again, companies will need to have a serious discussion and project plan for validating driver authenticity, and hopefully they can maintain efficiency, security and privacy having learned from the pioneers in the space. It doesn't have to be an uphill battle to achieve these goals, and certainly doesn’t need to be a project that devours precious resources to build in house. Sign in with ID is already becoming the norm in ride sharing, and soon everyone will be reassured that their driver is who they say they are.

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