Uber banned in Birmingham
21 January 2020 15:54 GMT

It has been announced that Uber’s license to operate in Birmingham will not be renewed at the end of the month, following the company’s unresolved dispute with Transport for London. In November, it was revealed that drivers in the capital who were not licenced or insured conducted 14,000 rides, putting passenger safety at great risk.

This is yet another blow to the company, which has repeatedly made headlines around the globe for failing to ensure adequate identity verification standards are met to safeguard the public – a staggering 6,000 sexual assaults and 19 murders have been recorded in the US alone at the hands of its drivers. 

According to James Stickland, CEO at authentication platform Veridium, as we advance into 2020, gig economy businesses must focus on an identity verification approach that leverages the latest technology, such as biometric authentication, in order to offset these scandals and reassure the public.

James Stickland, CEO at Veridium comments: “There is no excuse for companies such as Uber failing to determine the identity, and hence safety, of the workers on its platform. The UK gig economy has doubled in the past three years – now accounting for 4.7 million workers – and is only expected to expand as businesses rush to cash in.[2] Verifying that people are who they say they are will be vital to public safety, but also vital in the fight against growing e-commerce fraud and money laundering. Considering global e-commerce fraud is anticipated to cost $130 billion by 2023,[3] it is essential for businesses to act now or risk disappearing in the future.”

James continues: “There is an array of technology available to verify a worker’s identity and mitigate future scandals, including biometric authentication such as fingerprint or facial recognition, alongside liveness detection which senses movement. Integrating innovative behavioural biometric authentication, which uses artificial intelligence to identify unique mannerisms such as gait, or patterns of behaviour such as the time of day an app is accessed, as well as location, is widely being regarded as the final frontier in security. Considering the increase in app-based workers, leveraging biometrics through digital devices to verify digital identity would be an efficient, cost-effective method for businesses to ensure only authorised people are permitted to work.”

James concludes: “As Uber extends its portfolio into food delivery with Uber Eats, and helicopter travel with Uber Air Taxi, verifying the identity of air-borne passengers will also be crucial to protect a range of stakeholders including employees. This is particularly pertinent with the planned launch of urban electric planes, which are widely being regarded as the future of transportation to bypass road traffic.[4] These measures could also mitigate against consumer payment fraud on both ride and food orders. Furthermore, the public’s sensitive biometric data can be distributed in a way that ensures no private company such as Uber is the custodian, easing concerns over data privacy.”