Case study: Couchsurfing

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  • 30,000+ users verified in less than 3 months 
  • Able to verify users in over 200,000 cities around the world

About Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a global community of 14 million people in more than 200,000 cities who share their life, their world, their journey. Using Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in over 100 countries.

The challenge

Couchsurfing was searching for a solution that would improve trust between its users. With members from over 100 countries, Couchsurfing had no way of truly verifying who their members were.

“An address, credit card, or phone number doesn’t verify a user’s identity directly. Rather it demonstrates access to these components. While each of these is useful in its own way, we wanted something even stronger.” said Don Fultz, Head of Trust and Safety at Couchsurfing.

Couchsurfing wanted to ensure that their Verified members are who they claim to be, by implementing a robust identity verification process, while keeping it easy for members to join their platform from around the world. If users could voluntarily verify themselves, this would in turn increases trust and safety in the Couchsurfing community.

The solution

Onfido’s unique workflow, which involves combining a user’s Document Check with a Facial Similarity Check, means that Couchsurfing can verify that a user actually exists. Onfido’s iOS & Android SDK enables Couchsurfing users to take a photo of their document, where it is verified at the point of capture to ensure that it is not affected by blurring or glare. The user then takes a selfie, which is compared to the face on their document to ensure that the two match, all within the app workflow. At the same time, the details provided by the applicant are checked against Sex Offender and Watchlist databases. The implementation process, from beginning to end, took less than one month.

The results

In the first three months following implementation, Onfido’s IDV solution enabled more than 30,000 members to become verified. With the quick turnaround time for each check (less than 20 minutes), Couchsurfing is now able to quickly onboard and verify new users in over 200,000 cities, while also reducing user dropout.

Onfido allows us to not only verify a member’s identity, but also to incorporate a range of checks into our site. Seamless access to global watchlists, the National Sex Offender Public Registry, and criminal records provides us with flexibility that not all identity companies are able to provide.

Don Fultz, Head of Trust and Safety, Couchsurfing

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