Online apartment and home rental service Airbnb is beginning to require that its users verify their identity with a government-issued photo ID or other personal information before booking stays. The service, which allows users to rent out their own property to others, has struggled with safety concerns for both hosts and guests, and it's now attempting to quell security concerns by banning pseudonyms and anonymity. By the end of 2013, the company aims to have all users verified using both personal information as well as an online account, such as Facebook.
Airbnb needs to make users feel safe
Airbnb has previously offered verification by linking to a social network, but the service was only optional. Starting today, a quarter of its US users will be required to fully verify their identity, while the rest of its US and international users will be mandated to verify before the end of the year. If users don't want to submit a photo ID, they also have the option of answering a series of questions similar to a credit check. However, Airbnb doesn't intend to use this data to assist law enforcement — the company only plans to use the information for verifying a user's real name and identity.
The company has worked to address security concerns since reports in 2011 that a guest robbed and damaged a host's property. Nearly a year later, Airbnb began insuring hosts up to $1 million in the event of damage from guests. It's now asking a lot more of its users before allowing them to book stays — but it could increase users' trust in each other, and ultimately, their trust in Airbnb as well.