Grab's Passenger Verification system could ban abusive passengers for good

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 11 Apr 2019

Grab Malaysia is handing some of the power over to its drivers, where passengers could be held accountable for their untoward actions.

Over the years, it’s the passengers who have had the upper hand in dictating a Grab driver’s livelihood. They could rate a driver poorly and with enough complaints, the driver would not be allowed on the ride-sharing platform anymore. 

But now, Grab Malaysia is handing some of the power over to its drivers, where passengers could be held accountable for their untoward actions.  

Grab Malaysia claims that over the years, some of its drivers have been subjected to threats from the passengers they ferry. The offences range from verbal abuse to more sinister threats like attempted robbery, sexual harassment and even physical assault.

The company has now announced Passenger Verification, a new security feature which requires new passengers to take a selfie of themselves as a form of identification on the app. 

Currently, the passenger selfie verification is optional and users can instead opt to upload their credit or debit card details instead. However, moving forward, all users will be required to go through the selfie verification, the company claimed.

At the moment, there is no element on the app that identifies a passenger, as only those who use e-wallet on the Grab app are required to provide their IC details for verification purposes.

With this Passenger Verification feature, Grab will have a database of its users, which it started collecting with new sign ups at the beginning of the year.

“Now we have some level of identification of the passenger. We believe the technology and collaboration with the authorities will help keep our drivers safe,” said Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh.

This system will help stop passengers whose account has been terminated due to offences from re-registering as it would use the selfie as an identification system.

The facial recognition technology embedded in the app will be able to identify “live” human faces, taking data points, and can even detect and reject inappropriate photographs, it claimed.

The company plans to make it compulsory even for existing passengers but declined to reveal when it plans to enforce it. The selfie will reportedly be used for a one-time verification purpose, and like other data on Grab, is protected under Malaysia’s Personal Data Protection Act.

Grab Malaysia states that the selfie will not be shared with any external parties including drivers and merchants, and will not be displayed as the user’s profile picture. As part of its commitment to promote a safe ride-sharing community for the drivers and passengers, Grab Malaysia has introduced several new safety features on the platform.

Drivers’ details are removed from the passenger’s trip history 72 hours after the ride is completed, to protect their privacy.

Drivers can also share their live GPS location with their loved ones, as well as activate the Emergency SOS button – which connects directly with up to three contacts – in the event of an emergency. 

The app will also send reminders to drivers to rest when it detects them being active for too long.

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