April 24, 2016 -
In an effort to counter fraud, prevent identity theft and ensure the safety of its riders, Uber is launching facial recognition verification for drivers in China.
According to a report by The Verge, Uber is increasing its safety standards by using live face checks via a selfie when drivers sign up as well as for occasional spot checks while the driver is online.
“The realtime ID check is a safety feature we are rolling out that helps ensure the driver going online matches the driver account we have on file. This is just another example of features we’re always exploring to improve our safety processes,” Uber told The Verge. If there are any issues with identity verification, the driver’s account will be temporarily deactivated while Uber investigates.
Chinese facial recognition firm Face++ has developed this new feature for Uber and it is expected to be featured in the driver’s app in China next month.
Last May, the startup secured an additional $25 million for its series B round, bringing the company’s total series B to $47 million. Face++ provides an API and SDK, as well as custom cloud services, for companies looking to use facial recognition technology. One of its biggest clients is Ant Financial, the financial subsidiary of Alibaba and developer of online payment platform Alipay.
Last year, eight members of the U.S. Congress called on ride-sharing companies Uber Technologies, Lyft and Sidecar Technologies to begin running fingerprint-based background checks on their drivers. Since then, officials in Atlanta, Austin, Boston and California have urged the companies to implement fingerprint checks for drivers.
According to the report in The Verge, “labor law experts argue the company fears that mandating a biometric check could be construed to suggest Uber is treating drivers like employees instead of independent contractors. Giving off that impression could be problematic for Uber as it gears up for a California lawsuit over worker classification later this year.”