Communities are a great way to build trust.
A sense of community also plays an important role in building trust and, according to some research, may even lead to more moral and selfless behavior. As my research showed, many existing P2P marketplaces solve the trust issue by fostering trusting communities that self-regulate themselves. At Carpooling.com, for instance, letting the user community monitor itself has worked excellently for ten years. Like a small village in which trust exists because everybody knows each other directly or indirectly, online communities have the potential to function as a trust system for the sharing economy. For this to work, you need to connect people who have similar interests, tastes and values. Research has shown that people who are similar and can identify with one another are more likely to trust each other. This is the case at Carpooling.com, where the majority of the users have in common that they are current or former students. Airbnb has also recognized the importance of shared interests and now lets users upload short self-made videos about themselves and has created groups in which users can connect based on their interests.
People share for different reasons.
One of the most interesting insights from my research was that people with different values and interests also have different motivations for sharing. While some people use P2P platforms for financial reasons, others have ideological or social motivations, such as sharing experiences or contributing to a sustainable future. This discrepancy in users’ motivations could make it more difficult to build trust on P2P platforms.
Trust varies across cultures .
A further challenge of building trust in P2P marketplaces is cultural differences. As Natalie Ortiz, a Costa Rican service designer working at Deways in Paris, explained, introducing collaborative consumption in Costa Rica would be almost impossible. Since there is a strong sense of community there, according to her, connecting through the Internet would feel unnatural. “If you need something, you just knock on the neighbor’s door.” Bauman from Carpooling.com also noted that it is okay to sell ride-sharing as a type of hitchhiking in Spain, whereas in the U.K. it is better to refer to a new form of mobility. In Greece the concept is completely unknown, which means that companies have to start from zero in building trust and familiarizing people with the concept of ride-sharing.
Altogether my analysis brought me to the conclusion that an online trust system is indispensible for the sharing economy to work. The challenge however remains how to best design such a trust system taking into account issues such as transparency and data privacy.
To read more on this topic, the full thesis is available on my blog.
What do you think would be a good way to build trust online? Please add your comments below.
This article reprinted with permission from Shareable.
image: Andrea Newell (Wordle)