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Grab readies platform’s new safety and security features

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

SINGAPOREAN multinational ride-hailing company Grab Holdings, Inc. is adding new safety and security features to its platform, including gesture-less verification, crash-detection, and unusual-ride termination features, a company official said.

Grab Head of Integrity Wui Ngiap Foo said at an online briefing on Thursday that the company intends to introduce the platform’s new safety and security features into the Philippine market “as soon as possible.”

A Grab journey, according to Mr. Foo, has three steps, namely: pre-trip, on-trip, and post-trip. He said Grab has developed safety solutions for each step.

For pre-trip, Grab has developed artificial intelligence or AI-powered facial authentication for driver-partners.

“Driver-partners must take a real-time selfie before they can go online and receive jobs,” Mr. Foo said, adding that a selfie is compared against the driver’s registration photo in Grab’s database.

There is also an authentication feature for passengers before the trip “to protect Grab’s driver-partners.”

The Philippine government has suspended Grab’s selfie verification, audio, and video recording systems.

In February, the National Privacy Commission issued a cease and desist order against such data processing systems, citing the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

Mr. Foo noted that Grab “takes personal data protection very seriously.”

“Passenger selfies are securely stored and not shared with anyone, including drivers,” he added.

For the coronavirus pandemic period, Grab also developed a selfie feature for face-mask verification.

Soon to come are gesture-less verification and GrabChat filter pre-trip features of the platform, according to Mr. Foo.

The gesture-less verification feature allows “faster detection and liveliness check without requiring gestures,” Mr. Foo said.

The GrabChat filter aims to “maintain a safe chat environment for both passengers and drive-partners,” he added.

Also soon to be introduced are the crash-detection, unusual-ride termination, and driver-partner notification on-trip features of the platform.

Grab is also stepping up the platform’s personally identifiable information (PII) protection, Mr. Foo said.

The protection features include detection if driver-partners are taking screenshots that contain PII, hiding trip details after a trip, offering a voice over internet protocol or VOIP, and number-masking “so that driver-partners and passengers can contact each other without revealing phone number,” Mr. Foo explained.

Grab platform’s post-trip capabilities include a driving behavior analysis feature using telematics.

“We send drivers safety reports with safety scores to increase awareness of unsafe driving behavior and incentivize drivers to adopt safer driving behavior,” Mr. Foo explained.

“Drivers with a bad driving safety track record will be required to undergo trainings or otherwise removed from the platform,” he added.

Mr. Foo said further that Grab is also addressing fraud attacks.

“Fraudsters are leveraging social media campaigns and sophisticated websites to trick Grab users into surrendering their one-time passwords,” he noted.

Grab’s strategies, Mr. Foo said, include: campaigns and outreach to educate users about phishing scams and ways to increase security of their accounts; secure payment methods and advanced authentication methods; shaping tighter regulations and laws and assisting police investigations; and the use of data-driven algorithms which detect anomalies in users’ actions.

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