By Shashwati Shankar
We’ve all heard about it or seen it for ourselves: shared bikes stolen and thrown into rivers, shared electric scooters broken and strewn about sidewalks and shared cars being objects of theft attempts, intended crashes and broken windows. Such acts of vandalism frustrate cities, disgust citizens and deeply hurts the reputation of shared mobility operators. The business models of shared mobility operators depend heavily on the strength of their reputation and user base, so how can these operators scale and grow while keeping bad actors off their platforms?
For our November 8th webinar with Jumio, we explored the efforts that have been made to counter shared mobility vandalism and fraud by increasing security measures through the adoption of license verification, two-factor authentication and much more.
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- Harald Grassl, Regional Director, Jumio
- Cornelius Kiermasch, Head of Shared Mobility, Deutsche Bahn
- Anissa Fersi, Public Affairs Director, Bird Rides France
- Olivier Le Gruiec, Digital Project Manager, Troopy
Moderated by: Thibault Castagne, CEO of Vianova
Key Insights From the Webinar
Range of security measures taken: There are a wide range of security measures that are taken to prevent vandalism, these include identity verification (government id, residence permit, passport), drivers license (in the case of using a shared car), financial verification (ensuring bank cards are valid and functional), and face recognition verification (this includes a selfie being taken). According to Harald Grassl, Regional Director at Jumio, the face recognition verification is the hardest part to fake. Going beyond these basic security measures, Troopy also prevents vandalism or damage to vehicles by automatically locking the vehicle when it is 15 to 100 meters away from a water body (the distance is based on the infrastructure). Overall these range of security measures result in declining approximately 5% of the users who may fail to pass these verification tests. Going beyond this range of verifications, companies like Bird are also focusing on educational and public awareness campaigns in schools along with partners in the city (including the police department and the fire safety department) that focus on preventing damage to shared vehicles.
There are still many challenges in successfully preventing vandalism: Cornelius Kiermasch, Head of Shared Mobility at Deutsche Bahn Connect Gmbh, highlighted an interesting case of an individual that had become known for getting around identity verification checks and stealing shared cars. He mentioned that once they figured out the individual had stolen a car, the person was already 30 km away from the Polish border; very close to escaping, however, they still managed to retrieve the car by locking it when the engine was off, thereby preventing the car from being used further. While the individual in this case escaped, the car could no longer be used unless it was unlocked by a Deutsche Bahn representative. Similarly, Anissa Fersi, Public Affairs Director from Bird Rides France, indicated that the company had seen a huge uptick in fraud during the month of April in 2022. However, it was difficult to ascertain the reason behind this uptick.
What happens to the user data that is collected by the companies? Personal data is rarely stored and kept for an extended period of time. However, it can also often depend on the customer, since they have the option for their data to be stored for a particular duration of time or to be deleted as soon as the identity verification process has been confirmed.
Good practices that can ensure a strong identity verification process:
- Identity verification: basic identity verification using government id, residence permit or a passport.
- Financial verification: ensuring bank cards are valid and functional.
- Drivers license: In case of using a shared car.
- Face recognition verification: using a real-time selfie to check if the person’s face matches the identity verification document.
- Consumer awareness campaigns: educating consumers on protecting shared vehicles and preventing any damage to them.
- Technological upgrades to enable vehicles to reduce the level of damage: this includes the example shared both by the representatives of Troopy and Deutsche Bahn Connect, where the vehicles can be locked or automatically stopped to prevent or reduce the amount of damage from taking place.
- Work with the city authorities: partner with the city authorities to see how best fraud and vandalism can be reduced.
While these practices can ensure that over 90% of users have good profiles, keeping fraud out of shared mobility ecosystems continues to be an issue that will be addressed for the years to come.