New rules for the trust game
Our parents used to urge us not to get into strangers’ cars or houses, and not to meet people from the Internet. Nevertheless, today, many share their cars with strangers (BlaBlaCar), grant access to their homes (Airbnb, Helpling), and use platforms to connect to others in on- and offline environments (TaskRabbit, Facebook). Online and mobile technology has fueled the rise of what is often referred to as the sharing or platform economy, a landscape of digital businesses that enable resource exchange among multiple actors. To operate successfully, platforms build on network effects, a critical mass of participants, balanced value exchange, and – last but not least – trust among the key players. In terms of trust, the triumph of sharing economy platforms has challenged conventional wisdom. Why is that? One reason is that platforms have come up with new tools, mechanisms, and design patterns to build and curate trust. Prominent among these are star ratings and text reviews – which forge a bridge between the exchange principles of our early ancestors and today’s Internet users (see Box 1).