PeerPass provides identity and reputation checks for sharers

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PeerPass provides identity and reputation checks for sharers

We reckon there's a lot of nonsense being spouted about the sharing economy, largely by players trying to pass themselves off as 'sharing' when they're not.

If you put your house on Airbnb for the two weeks you're on holiday, that's sharing. Buying a flat as an investment then letting it on Airbnb rather than finding tenants directly or through an estate agent isn't sharing.

If you own a 4WD that you only use at weekends, making it available through DriveMyCar on weekdays is sharing. Being a Uber driver isn't.

But clearly there is a move afoot, and we can see ways that small businesses could benefit from sharing.

If the premises you lease include more parking spaces than you always need, maybe you could offer the surplus for short-term rental to neighbours.

If you need a vehicle enough to make it worth buying or leasing one, perhaps you could rent it out on the days you're not using it. The same goes for specialised equipment that you don't use every day.

If you run your business from home, you might like to rent a conference room by the hour from a nearby business rather than relying on cafes and similar venues.

If there isn't a copy shop in the neighbourhood, perhaps you could offset the cost of that colour laser printer by making it available to nearby small businesses.

But the problem is knowing whether you can trust the person or business that you propose to share with. Can they be relied upon to look after your property and to pay the agreed amount? Will the equipment or facility they offer live up to the description?

To some extent, those issues are taken on by the companies that match lenders and borrowers. For example, Airbnb offers a Host Guarantee that can cover up to $1 million in damage to the property, subject to various conditions and exclusions.

But even then, someone setting up a matching service might want some guidance about the trustworthiness of individuals and organisations. That's where PeerPass comes in.

"PeerPass will combine online ID verification, credit checks, credit card fraud detection, security bonds, reputation feedback and social media verification to build trust between participants on sharing economy platforms," according to Collaborate, the company behind the PeerPass service.

"It can be difficult to trust the person on the other end of an internet connection without knowing anything about them. PeerPass provides multiple ways to assess a person's trustworthiness and allows people to engage in peer-to-peer transactions with confidence," said Collaborate CEO Chris Noone.

"When a person signs into a PeerPass-enabled website, the trust platform can verify the person's identity and assess their credit history. Once verified they will be able to transact with others on PeerPass-enabled platforms such as Collaborate's peer-to-peer marketplaces DriveMyCar, MyCaravan and Rentoid."

That verification process builds upon external services including D&B greenID (as used by Australia Post, National Australia Bank and Optus, among others), as well as tools developed by Collaborate.

This approach also helps address the situation where newcomers to an established sharing site may find existing members unwilling to share with anyone without a high reputation score based on feedback from previous transactions. Identity verification and credit checks provide assurance that the person is who they claim to be and isn't a financial deadbeat. 

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