Major short-term apartment rental operators are starting to draw up rules and adopt facial recognition to enhance safety management, in a bid to win the support of customers and government departments as well as gain a firmer foothold in the booming market, the Shenzhen Economic Daily reported yesterday.
According to industry bellwether Airbnb, China is expected to become the platform’s biggest source of customers in 2020. In order to secure competence in the Chinese market, the platform is also learning Chinese laws and regulations while exploring rules on its own in the absence of a national regulatory regime for the industry.
Airbnb, established in the U.S. in 2008, entered the Chinese market in 2015. According to the platform, the number of its rental apartments in China has increased by more than 125 percent compared with last year.
Regarding identity verification, Airbnb said that each landlord or tenant needs to provide information including full name, date of birth, photos, phone numbers, payment methods and email addresses on the platform. In addition, the landlord can ask the tenant to provide identification documents issued by the government before a reservation is confirmed.
Although there might be loopholes in the identity verification process, Han Zhixuan, head of the public affairs department of Airbnb’s China division, said they will cross-check a user’s information based on the security data provided by relevant regulators and service providers. If necessary, they will conduct further verifications.
Tujia.com, a domestic short-term apartment rental operator, is also stepping up efforts to improve services and management to compete for the Chinese market against rivals like Airbnb.
According to Tujia, a landlord must first submit materials, such as identity authentication and apartment information, before signing relevant agreements with the platform. Landlords can only engage in business after they have received guidance and approval.
Regarding the tenant’s identity verification, Tujia said the user must provide real identity information to make a successful reservation, otherwise the booking process will not be completed.
For the regulatory loopholes in identity security, Tujia said a facial recognition system has already been put into use in cities including Sanya, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing. The system is also expected to be launched in Shenzhen.