Online marketplace Carousell users can now verify their identities using MyInfo

To protect Carousell users' data privacy, the firm does not have any access to a citizen's or resident's NRIC number. PHOTO: CAROUSELL

SINGAPORE - In an effort to tackle fraud, online marketplace Carousell is now giving its users the option to verify their identities via MyInfo, the digital vault of government-verified personal data.

Users can do so by logging into their SingPass accounts via the Carousell app, and when successful, will receive a blue verified badge on their profiles.

This additional level of identity authentication indicates that such users are more "genuine" - important, given how easy it is for scammers to create multiple fake accounts under various names. Previously, users could only verify their identities using their e-mail or social media accounts, as well as their mobile phone numbers.

Ms Tan Su Lin, the company's vice-president of operations, said: "Fraud and scams are an industry-wide challenge, and creating a layer of accountability and trust is one step in addressing the issue."

Carousell will not have any access to users' NRIC numbers, but the company will have access to a user's name, date of birth and registered address - items which users must give consent to giving up in the process. Users can also choose to deactivate their MyInfo-verified status at any time.

This is the first time a retailer is using MyInfo - a service developed by GovTech (Government Technology Agency) - for fraud prevention purposes. Ever since the government extended the integration of its digital vault to the private sector in 2017, the service has been taken up mainly by businesses in the financial sector.

Since the launch of the service on the classifieds platform last weekend, a few thousand users have opted to verify their identities using MyInfo. Carousell hopes that in time, as many users as possible will also take up the option.

Ms Tan said: "Of course, just because a user has a verified badge does not mean that he is a good seller or buyer, and neither is a user a scammer if he does not get a verified badge. But because this is an additional layer of identity authentication, it does enhance the level of user accountability."

Mr Kwok Quek Sin, GovTech's senior director, National Digital Identity, said: "Digital transactions are now commonplace. It is therefore crucial for businesses to offer higher levels of assurance for users transacting on their platforms."

Carousell, Singapore's largest mobile classifieds marketplace, has attracted negative news in the past for the large number of scams and other fraudulent activities on the platform. In the first half of last year, 80 per cent of e-commerce scams took place on Carousell.

Last year, a then 21-year-old student was jailed for conning 54 people of $15,276 over nine months through Carousell and Facebook by posting advertisements for tickets to concerts and attractions that she did not have.

In 2017, a then 16-year-old girl was arrested for advertising slimming cream at attractive prices on the online marketplace, but did not deliver the goods after victims transferred money to her.

In February, however, the company said that its fraud rate had declined by 44 per cent, thanks to various initiatives, such as investment in human resources and improvements to product and engineering. By the fourth quarter of last year, about three in 10,000 transactions were fraudulent.

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