Saturday, November 07, 2015

Allowing Trust

I enjoy speaking to Uber drivers about their experiences. I presume there is a bias to being positive to customers since no one really likes a moaner. But I would think you could read between the lines if too many stories are made up. They are overwhelmingly positive. In London, my driver had been working for Tesco. In Joburg, the driver had been working as a security guard. Through the easy provision of a platform to shift to being a driver, these guys lives had been transformed. They were able to take control of their hours, and both said they were earning well.


With my travelling, one part of Uber I have enjoyed is the safety and regularity. There are some things where you want local variety, and others where it is a hygiene factor. Getting from A to B, unless it is specifically for the experience, should be a hygiene factor. Being able to land in a city and use the same app to call up a ride when you are a little overwhelmed is fantastic. 

The only negative story I have had, came from someone who used to like 'overwhelmed clients'. He had been a driver for a long time. He charged based on accent. So if someone had a New York twang, he would charge the regular fare from JFK airport to Manhattan. $60. Except he wasn't working in New York. So he would charge R600 for the trip from Cape Town Airport to the City. Only after he had dropped clients off would they find out he had overcharged. Switching to Uber, he couldn't do this anymore since no money changes hands. So he made less money. Clearly this 'negative story' is actually positive.

Most drivers I speak to really like the lack of cash. They don't have to worry about clients just hoping out of the car without paying. The fact that the clients identities have been verified by banking details gives them additional security. If someone has had a few too many and decorates the back seat, a simple message will lead to money being credited to their account to have the car cleaned. They don't have to negotiate with the decorator.

What other exchanges can the 'money bit' be removed from? Could restaurants Uberfy? No bill required if you log in. Self-checkout in London is quite wide spread. In some shops you can get a scanner to carry around with you as you shop, so you don't even do the traditional aisle check out. You just take the scanner back. I have heard talk of items being cheaply tagged, so you just walk into a shop, take what you want, and leave. The bill gets calculated behind the scenes.

There is a huge premium to trust. There are big industries built around the difficulty we have engaging fairly with each other. Security and Insurance are the obvious ones. I don't know much about Bitcoin, but the Economist recently wrote an article on the broader applications to fields beyond money. The technology basically allows people who don't know each other to have interactions that require trust through a dependable public ledger.


A world where we are able to trust each other may be one of those things that does 'change everything'.
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