Blockchain Could be A Solution to Passenger Safety in Ridesharing

The brutal killing of a 20-year-old female passenger using Didi’s ride-sharing service made headlines in China these days. The incident raised concerns among Chinese regarding the safety of car-hailing app Didi as it is the second such death this year the Uber–like app involved. It evokes many to consider blockchain technology as a potential solution to the security issue in ride-hailing services.

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest taxi hailing service provider, has suspended its hitching service since Monday, after the second murder of a female passenger in three months despite additional security measures. Three month ago in May, a driver on the platform raped and murdered a 21-year-old passenger in Henan province of central China.

Female riders had complained that drivers often left inappropriate comments on their profiles after using the service, and the company implemented an emergency button, late-night restrictions, and new verification methods including facial recognition.

While the latest incident demonstrates that these new measures were not effective. Public anger about the case and the safety of ride-hailing was running high on Chinese social media over the past weekend. It was the top trending topic on media outlets and microblog websites, with posts related to the case having been read or reposted nearly 1 billion times on Weibo, Chinese version of Twitter, in the past days.

Against the backdrop of panic growing over ride-hailing safety, blockchain advocates are calling for a blockchain solution.

Suppose Didi records the order, passenger’s identity and driver’s identity, license plate number, as well as driving routes on blockchain, and adopts Zk-SNARK (acronym for “zero-knowledge, Succinct, Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge”) to address the privacy concerns, the car-hailing app could automatically send the private key to these information to anyone to whom the passenger has already given permission. In that way, people who has access to the info could track the route in real time and immediately report it to police if any accident occurs.

Though technology cannot prevent evil thoughts, it enables people to better defend themselves against potential dangers. Don Tapscott, father of the digital economy, once said that Didi and Uber might be replaced by a blockchain-powered distributed app, companies like Didi needs to rethink their business model. And now China warned that the country did not need ride-hailing firms which compromised on passenger safety.

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