In what is obviously an attempt to inspire trust in their users, classified ads platform and marketplace, MOBOfree has announced the launch of an ID verification drive in Nigeria and Uganda.

The user authentication process requires that prospective users of the platform take a snapshot of their identity document and upload it onto MOBOfree along with their email and mobile phone number. The company indicated that the process will only take two minutes and confirmation or rejection of prospective users will be communicated within 48 hours.

“By preventing fraud rather than simply dealing with the issue after fraud has been identified, MOBOfree is highlighting its commitment to a safer environment for e-commerce in Africa,” said Cristobal Alonso, MOBOfree’s CEO.

Safety on online classifieds have been a major cause of concern since the Nigerian OLX nanny kidnapping incident in [what month?]. Since then, the company has stepped up its user education activities to help them avoid dubious characters that are always present on such platforms.

MOBOfree’s verification process is optional. However, users who register using the ID verification program will be eligible for additional benefits on the site — the announcement says their posts will be featured more prominently on the site, but not much else. A dedicated ID verification team will then contact members “over the phone or even face-to-face when necessary”.

The release is silent on what happens to unverified users. Is platform safer just because some users get verified, without restricting the actions that unverified users can perform? We have reached out to MOBOfree for comment.

Update: in response to our inquiry, Cristobal said:

“That is a great observation. However we believe that by giving those verified users priorities and benefits (as being shown on search results and listings first ahead of unverified users) will force over time for more and more users to verify (aka creating social push) and secondly we will continue investing on educating our users in the benefits of dealing with verified users. Take also into account that this is just the first battery of actions we plan to launch in the coming months as we are commited to continue being Nigeria most secure and trustworthy marketplace and to do so to always being ahead of the market and innovating with new solutions”.

MOBOfree says it has a general policy of not disclosing members’ personal information to third parties unless they have consented to such sharing, and that any data acquired from MOBOfree’s visual identification program will not be shared with other MOBOfree users.

Image Credit: VOVC via Wiki Cc

Lulu Fadoju Author

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