“The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him” – the trust question in Collaborative Consumption

 In my last blog post I wrote about the sharing methods of Google and I want to continue my investigations about the sharing economy this week again. This time I try to identify another crucial aspect that has to be considered when talking about collaborative consumption: Trust.

To describe the problem in the words of Rachel Botsman, the social innitiator of Collaborative Consumption ” if you’re going to go spend some time as the house-guest of a perfect stranger, you also will make some assessment along the lines of, “Do I, or do I not, trust these people?”  You’re like a ghost in the system. Nobody knows if they can trust you, and you don’t fare very well.” These are central concerns every Sharer has to take into considerations when dealing with the P2P – Industry. I know the situation myself, if I make use of carsharing I always worry whether the driver is really reliable. What if the person does not have a driving license or is a incredible bad driver?
Because of those concerns it is important to internalize the principle of  “interaction between trusting and being trusted” as it is explained in an interesting blog about the trustworthiness of Peer-to-Peer methods.

Who is responsible for trust?

It is important to clearly state, that actually, everybody is responsible whether renting his or her own house to strangers or not. However, as consumer always demand convenience and what is more, the lack of expertise to evaluate the credibility of strangers ,Getaround’s Avery Lewis explains “It’s the role of the platform to do the work… If we asked our owners to check the people’s driver’s license, they’d have no idea if the driver’s license is fake or stolen.” (Check out: “For Collaborative Consumption – Trust is Key” to gather more information about the trust questions especially in the eyes of TaskRabbitGetaroundRentcycle, and LiquidSpace)

Trying to establish trust is nice but…

Of course there are people who consider the trustworthiness of collaborate consumption as highly dangerous saying:
 “Once a user has gotten established in a new online sharing community, there are still opportunities for trouble. Last summer a number Airbnb users complained that renters they had found through the site trashed their homes. One woman found her jewelry stolen and her apartment ransacked,according to her blog post about the incident.  A man came home to discover drug paraphernalia in his house. The renters also stole his birth certificate, according to his written account.”

Another vital aspect is the false establishment of trust which opponents and even the founder Rachel Botsman, who also sees the behavior of P2P-platforms critical, like to add. On Businessinsider.com Rachel Botsman argues that “They’re going to over-rely on social media indicators because it’s one of the easiest places to aggregate data,” But that’s not an accurate representation of whether people can be trusted. I might stop using Facebook for two weeks, but that’s because I went fishing, not because I’m untrustworthy.”

 The future

Due to the huge problems that come togehter with the trust establishment a new trust measure is introduced what Botsman describes as a person’s “reputation capital” ; she thinks that it will become more important than our credit history in the coming century.
This would make it possible to  have a single measure that connects your ratings for eBay, AirBnB, LinkedIn and many more. Olivia Solomon, Associate Editor at wired.co.uk states this measurement more precisely “It would mean that you could start trading on another marketplace for the first time and be able to show that you are deemed to be trustworthy elsewhere.”
All in all there is no doubt that trust is one of the most important aspects that is coming together with collaborative consumption. Of course we have to be careful, but maybe we should internalize the words of Henry Stimson (1867 – 1950), a former American politician: “The only way to make a men trustworthy is to trust him” and transform it to our needs.
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