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Trusting Strangers in a Culture of Collaborative Consumerism

Ever since Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers mentioned Collaborative Consumerism[1] more than half a decade ago, our culture has only been expanding its footprint in a myriad of sectors. The exponential increase in the number of peer to peer websites has ushered in the new sharing economy.

Optimists are sure to join the party of collaborative consumerism. But, how do we encourage the skeptics and cynics to embrace this new phenomenon? How do we help people trust in individuals they have never met?

This is where reputation comes into the picture. If people can be convinced of the integrity and the trustworthiness of the individuals they will be engaging with, a massive opportunity to bring more people and resources into the sharing economy as a whole is created.

Your online reputation is no longer a plain vanilla social profile, but an important entity that wields the power to swing your life or career onto a different path, opening the door to possibilities that were not accessible to you before. Just like businesses invest billions to build their reputations, individuals too need to shore up their reputation capital in order to maintain a positive social status.

China’s much dreaded social credit system is already out there to gamify people’s trust[2]. Though socially advantaged citizens seem to benefit from it, there is no dearth of criticisms over the unfair treatment meted out to people and corporations holding anti-government views. What we need is not a ranking of citizens, but an equal and just society. People should be given the chance to highlight, and prove via social verification, their positive attributes.

A often overlooked bonus for people participating in collaborative consumerism is building their reputation[3]. This is best explained in the words of the Nobel prize winning physicist Eric Betzig: “In my opinion, the only real asset one has is one’s reputation, right? I mean, any company and institution can go belly up at any time. But if you have a good reputation, you know, you can usually find somebody who can — who thinks they can use what you have to offer”.

So reputation is the heart of collaborative consumerism. So finding dependable and trustworthy individuals and institutions is needed today, more than ever. But currently ratings are locked away and siloed to the particular website an individual is using.

What’s more, no single person has the same reputation across all aspects of their life. A great professional with lots of recommendations and top ratings in LinkedIn may not return your borrowed car in a good condition. Thus, the same individual can have different facets and you need to know which of his/her qualities are relevant. Finding this information on your own is time consuming and exhausting, particularly when it has to be repeated again and again e.g. within applicant screening processes.

An example of a socially verified reputation vault in Reputationaire

Reputationaire does that job for you. We help you build the much needed trust to engage with strangers. We provide you owner consenting access to people’s verified ratings across all websites, all in one place. Now you can happily share your home, rent your car, or lend money to borrowers — after feeling satisfied with their verified ratings accessible via Reputationaire.

And one need not mention the time and money saved by estate agents, recruiters, lenders (in fact any organisation reliant on application processes) in verifying a potential candidate’s credentials. A person unanimously recommended by his superiors and his peers, across a wide variety of platforms, will no doubt be an asset to the organisation she is applying to.

Today, slow, expensive (and sometimes unfair) background verification is done by organisations to ensure the suitability of an applicant. But there is a quicker, fairer and more reliable way. For example, positive reviews and ratings on a financial peer to peer lending platform boost an applicant’s prospects in landing a job that involves handling money. It is a win-win situation for both the organisation and the individual, achieved at a cost far less than that when involving an external background check agency.

Organisations should start early and catch up with the fast evolving economic model of our times. Contact Reputationaire today to access your applicant’s socially verified ratings.


Individuals can claim ownership of reputations they’ve built across the web in one place and compare how you fare across all economies you engage in by signing up with https://reputationaire.com.

Together we can make life simpler and the world a better place by enabling trust between strangers via socially verified credentials!


  1. Wahl, D. (2017). Collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer collaboration. Retrieved from https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/collaborative-consumption-and-peer-to-peer-collaboration-d6e40c04e2e2
  2. Dockrill, P. (2018). China’s Chilling ‘Social Credit System’ Is Straight Out of Dystopian Sci-Fi, And It’s Already Switched On. Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/china-s-dystopian-social-credit-system-science-fiction-black-mirror-mass-surveillance-digital-dictatorship
  3. Hamari, J., Ukkonen, A., & Sjoklint, M. (2015). The Sharing Economy: Why People Participate in Collaborative Consumption. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(9), 2047–2059. doi: 10.1002/asi.23552

By Preethi Ramiah

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