Uber launches new safety feature for SA

Johannesburg - Cab-hailing service Uber launched a new feature in efforts to improve safety for passengers. 

The company on Wednesday introduced Real-Time ID check to South Africa.

The feature prompts Uber driver-partners to share a selfie from time to time before going online. Uber then compares this image to the photograph already on file with the account through facial recognition technology. 

The system first identifies a face, then it builds a feature set by focusing on key features of the driver’s face, and compares the feature set to the validated image Uber has on file. 

If the two images don’t match, the account is temporarily blocked while Uber looks into the situation. 

READ: How Uber plans to disrupt SA's delivery industry

This helps Uber to ensure in real time that the driver-partner using the app matches the account it has on file.

Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa said that it was important that the extra security feature did not inconvenience driver-partners. 

“We focused on making the user experience as simple as possible from the beginning of the project, testing it on driver-partners around the world to ensure it is a simple, effective and quick experience,” he said.

Uber have said the Real-time ID check assures riders that when they are picked up, the right person is behind the wheel.

The function is also meant to also protect driver-partners from fraud, theft and risks to their account being compromised. 

READ: Inside Uber's buzzing Joburg 'Greenlight Hub'

Real-Time ID Check is a phased roll out and not all driver-partners will see this right away. 

This new development is part of Uber’s commitment to not only make the lives of riders and driver-partners easier, but to keep everyone safe at every step of their Uber journey.

Safety of Uber riders came under the spotlight in July last year when a woman was kidnapped and raped after getting into what she thought was an Uber taxi in Fourways, Gauteng.

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