Source: Ejike Kanife/ Technext

Ride-hailing company, Bolt has announced that it will be launching a NIN verification system for users (riders) come 2024. This was revealed by Country Manager, Yahaya Mohammed at a media parley held today at its new office and Driver Engagement Centre, in Lagos.

Mohammed also announced that the company will launch random selfie verification for drivers operating on its platform. These are part of the measures the company is taking to improve the safety and security of drivers and passengers while commuting on the app.

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“In terms of major plans for 2024, we are looking to rider verifications to ensure that we also know who our riders are and authenticate anybody who is registering on the platform. This year we focused on verifying our drivers, making sure to know who they are. Next year will be about knowing who our riders are and making sure the platform is safe for both our riders and drivers,” the Country Manager said.

Shedding more light, Senior Public Policy Manager for West Africa, North Africa and Central Africa, Weyinmi Aghadiuno, while talking about data protection and privacy, noted that Bolt has its Data Processing Officers (DPO) as well as its Data Protection Certificate issued by NITDA.

Therefore, the company is not going to store users’ data, since it only requires it for immediate verification by simply verifying it against riders’ National Identification Number (NIN).

This development is coming weeks after the President of the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria, Comrade Adedamola Adeniran, called for the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) to verify passengers by e-hailing companies.

Prior, three e-hailing drivers registered under the Uber and Bolt platform were reportedly shot dead by gunmen in Port Harcourt and Abuja, according to a letter to the Rivers State Commissioner of Police and seen by Technext.

“As a registered trade union with the responsibility to protect our members against preventable circumstances like this, we are making a call on the government, as a matter of urgency, through the Ministry of Transport, Science, and Digital Economy or any other relevant ministry to direct these app companies to capture National Identity Number of the passenger before ordering a ride,” Comrade Adedamola had said.

Bolt Nigeria appears to have heeded the call.

Bolt Nigeria also announced the introduction of random selfie verification for drivers. With this measure, Bolt could arbitrarily require a driver to take a live selfie through the app. The face in the selfie will be matched against the one on the driver profile to confirm if it is the same person.

The purpose of this, the company says, is to ensure that the registered drivers are always behind the wheel.

“The drivers will be required to take selfies at different times every week to verify that the profile matches what is on our platform to ensure that the right person is driving. It is now being implemented countrywide”, Yahaya Mohammed said.

He also emphasised that the selfie verification process is randomised. While the frequency is weekly, there is no scheduled time. It can happen at any time especially when the driver least expects it.

Bolt has also unveiled a shift-limit feature which will ensure that the driver spends only a certain amount of time working on the platform. With this feature, once a driver hits the allotted time, the app automatically logs them out and will remain locked for 8 hours.

The overall idea is to make sure that drivers get enough rest time and that there are no overworked drivers on the platform.

While this is a great idea, concerns were raised about the possibility of drivers simply hopping off to other platforms and continuing working there. Admitting this was a very possible outcome, the company however said it can’t control whatever the drivers decide to do at the time. It could only control the limit to how long the driver could work on its platform.

Bolt also launched an in-trip insurance scheme which indemnifies, to an extent, any injuries or damage that both drivers and riders might suffer as a result of mishaps during the trip.

The company also initiated a trip-sharing initiative that allows drivers and riders to share their trip details with somebody that they trust, especially if they feel that they are in danger. With this feature, there will be a GPS live-tracking on all the details of that ride.

The Bolt team also unveiled an audio trip recording feature which can be used as a piece of evidence if an altercation occurs between the rider and the driver. If any party makes a report, the case will be easily reviewed using the information obtained from the audio trip recording feature.

“December period is a festive period so we have a lot of people using Bolt at this time. All safety initiatives only work when both driver and riders do not engage in offline trips” country manager, Yahaya said.

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Source: Ejike Kanife/ Technext