By Jessica Shapiro • March 25, 2016

Empowering consumers to take control of their own safety

Few app users take control of their safety online. As the Lead UI Designer at I am a heavy app user. I counted more than twenty apps that I use on a daily basis, yet even as a knowledgeable user, I only know the safety features of two of them. How secure is my information and more importantly my physical safety as I expose details of my life? I argue that users will more readily adopt security features if they are front and center in the user experience.  


Currently, safety and information security is out of the consumer’s hands. Apps frequently describe their safety measures in the fine print but we, as consumers, are not directly involved in the process of keeping ourselves safe and secure. Imagine the impact of empowering the consumer to take ownership of their security.


Leading shared economy services put a great deal of effort into safety and security, but they do so behind the scenes with verification of credentials and background checks. Bringing the consumer into the process could amplify those efforts dramatically. As an example, a caretaking app could allow users and caretakers to verify their identity through strict ID authentication. Not only would this involve the active participants in the process, but it would likely cause them to take note of other safety opportunities. 


A positive example is Airbnb*. As a host, I am given significant control over protecting myself and my belongings by only hosting users that I personally approve. I can view a renter’s verifications, online information in Facebook, reviews, and profile bio. In addition, I can add insurance and a security deposit to my listing. I take advantage of these features because they are put directly in front of me and I am actively engaged in the process of ensuring a safe, secure transaction.


One of the most critical verification capabilities in Airbnb for me is an uploaded Driver’s License. I am more likely to trust an individual with my place if I know they have sent Airbnb a photo of their license. I am able to make this a prerequisite for renting my home. I feel empowered to own my own security requirements.


Verified ID


Corporations and their consumers should begin to combat safety issues together. If companies begin empowering users to be more conscious of their own personal safety and information security then users will become active participants. In this way we can unlock the power of the crowd to transact business safely.


*While Airbnb is not a customer of ours, we love their approach.