According to a new survey about the sharing economy commissioned by First Advantage, the global leader in background screening solutions, a wide majority of consumers would be more likely to participate in the “sharing economy,” or peer-to-peer transactional services, if those services required background checks. Forty-one percent said they would be “much more likely” to use the services, while 39 percent said they would be “somewhat more likely” to use them. Only three percent said they would be somewhat or much less likely to participate.
The collaborative economy, which is estimated in a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers to reach $335 billion by 2025, up from just $15 billion today, is predicated on direct connections between consumers without the need for corporate intermediary. Some services help consumers share or rent things that would otherwise go unused, such as spare bedrooms, their home Wi-Fi network, the bicycle in the garage or the open seat in the car. Other services are focused on matching consumers who want to sell their professional skills directly to another consumer in need of that expertise, including graphic design work, writing, babysitting or handyman services.
Yet these services cannot thrive if consumers remain skeptical of how willing others are to play by the rules, and safely and securely deliver on their end of the transaction. Some types of services, including those that are more online-based or involve more intimate access to people or belongings, are in especially vulnerable positions when it comes to earning and keeping consumer trust. When First Advantage surveyed consumer attitudes about which sharing economy services should require more checks and security measures, 54 percent would apply that standard to shared space or home rental services, and 52 percent said the same for transportation services. Forty-four percent said services focused on money and crowdfunding should require additional security. Only 11 percent said no additional checks or security measures were necessary for any type of service.
“We created the survey to better understand the degree of trust people have in sharing economy companies, and how they believe background checks should fit into the process,” said Jennifer Franklin, SVP, Sharing Economy Solutions at First Advantage. “However, we also know that consumers may not always be clear what the background screening process entails and may think all background checks are alike, which is certainly not the case. If sharing economy companies offer background checks on members engaging in their services, it’s important for consumers to understand where the data comes from and what the review process consists of to ensure everything is accurate and that the consumer’s full history complies with applicable laws and regulations.”
- Among respondents who were familiar with the sharing economy, younger individuals were much more likely to have participated in it. For those aged 18-44, 85 percent said that they have used a sharing economy service. For those aged 45-68, just 15 percent responded affirmatively.
- There remains a tremendous amount of growth potential. Of the individuals who were unfamiliar with sharing economy, only 10 percent said that they would definitely not be interested in using this type of service in the future.
- Word-of-mouth is playing a role in the growth of the sharing economy. Fifty-three percent of those who use these services were recommended by a friend.
This online survey of 800 U.S. adults, aged 18-68 and working full-time or part-time, was commissioned by First Advantage and conducted by AYTM.com. All data is self-reported by study participants and is not verified or validated. Respondents participated in the study in January 2015. Detailed findings are available by request.