Airbnb has announced that starting this spring the company will require all users booking reservations on its platform to verify their identity before booking. The company had already put in place a Verified ID policy for several destinations and that became applicable since November 16th, 2022. What the company asks is: Legal name, address and/or other personal information; Photo of your Government ID; a selfie photograph.
The countries where the regulation has since applied are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the US (including Puerto Rico).
It tends to cause people to behave a little bit better because they know they will be held accountable for bad actions.Tara Bunch, global head of operations at Airbnb
Tara Bunch, global head of operations at Airbnb, has stated that the company is taking this additional step in a more explicit way. She noted that 80% of the rental platform’s bookings already feature identity verification as something hosts can request.
“It’s not so much that people that were booking listings were representing themselves as not being who they are,” Bunch said. “When you take away the anonymity of not being identify verified, I think it opens up the perception that people could behave badly and not be held accountable, and by definition, tends to cause people to behave a little bit better because they know they will be held accountable for bad actions.”
Other rental platforms such as Booking or Expedia Group’s Vrbo don’t require ID verification but offer the possibility to submit this information. Wit this new policy, Airbnb moves closer to what a traditional hotel would do where clerks at the front desk request to see some form of identification prior to check-in.
People know they can come to book an experience or vacation and it is worry free.Tara Bunch, global head of operations at Airbnb
As reported by CNBC news, Tara Bunch has noted that there have been cases where individuals use fake identities for fraud purposes, or other malicious activity. She specified that these cases have been infrequent. She went on to say there have been instances of financial fraud schemes where unverified users have looked to use stolen credit cards via fake identities. There have also been instances where people try to move money between fictional guest and host combos.
“An innocent guest can get caught up in that,” she said. “We felt that taking that completely out of the system, preventing any sort of financial fraud or being able to take advantage of someone with say a fake identity was really important”.
According to Bunch, Airbnb uses third-party platforms, databases, and verification systems to confirm someone’s identity is truly who are saying they are as well as doing other background checks. “Guests and hosts come to Airbnb because we’re a trusted brand and they’re trusting us to keep their property safe and keep them safe, and to have a great experience in a beautiful location with a beautiful listing,” she said.
Bunch underlined that the ID verification procedure is being closely monitored by the company’s chief privacy officer and their team. Compliance with local and national data privacy regulations must also be followed. “At the end of the day, the way we’re going to retain and attract guests and hosts and grow our platform is creating that level of trust within our community,” Bunch said. “We are the place that people know they can come to book an experience or vacation and it is worry free.”