When strangers drive your car
Before Hyre can gear up and expand to new countries, they need one crucial element. An id-system that can make their dream of a shared car society speed up fast.
It was the end of summer 2015 when Ola Gjønnes (31) from Trondheim, Norway had just finished studying economics in his hometown. A new job and a new life in the capital of Oslo was waiting. Ola’s parents owned two cars, so they offered one to their 22 year old son as he flew…eh, drove out of the nest. When finally parking outside his new flat downton Oslo, he felt grateful and happy. Having access to a car was nice. But Ola had unfortunately parked the car a few meters too close to a crosswalk.
Just two days into his new ownership, he got a parking ticket.
He was already irritated by the endless hunt for parking spots in the city. Then there was the worry of irregular days of possible street cleaning. And the stress of thinking anyone at any time could dent the car. He cursed while driving through heavy city traffic, and now – walking home with groceries – he happened to pass his parked silver Saab, and like saying “hello”, Ola mildly glanced over at the front window of his family car before his heart skipped a beat. He realized his student budget that month was about to shrink dramatically.
– I believe it was then and there, with my hand on the trunk, I picked up the phone, called my parents and said “thanks, but no thanks”, Ola Gjønnes says.
Three days later the family car was on its way back to Trondheim.
– A buddy of mine needed to move the opposite way. So he got a free ride, and I didn't have to worry about owning a car.
Being a car “loaner” saves a lot of trouble
Because Ola Gjønnes doesn’t want to worry. Especially not about parking, maintenance, service, insurance, fees, flat tires, heavy snow on the hood or a flat battery. But he still would like to drive a car now and then. That is why he now works for the popular and very successful car sharing company Hyre.
– There is so much stress with having to take care of a car, and just keep this enormous thing.
Ola says Hyre believes that the number of private cars in the world should be reduced. A lot. Because producing cars requires heaps of resources and energy, and it occupies space in the cities.
– Space people could use instead. Also, if ten individuals instead could share one car during the 5 percent of the time they actually do need it, it would save everyone a lot of money, time and save the environment, he says.
ID-issues solved in five days, not five months
Solving the id-code challenge in Norway, is one thing. Another is to expand into new territories and countries with complicated id-systems of their own. Not to mention adapting to several bureaucracies, processes and piles of documents of multiple countries all at once.
But Hyre is soon ready to gear up and park hundred or more cars in the center of Stockholm and Copenhagen (and possibly more cities in Sweden and Denmark) before the end of 2022. Hyre will go from just 50 cars in Oslo back in 2018, to an expanded carpark of personal cars and vans in the thousands, all over Scandinavia.
– The first version of our Hyre-app in Norway took months to launch, but the second we wanted to go into more countries, we just had to call Signicat, says Ola.
He wants to stress that when it comes to Hyre expanding into new countries, Signicat has especially been “shining bright”.
– Our app needed access to different cumbersome identification systems to correctly identify our possible drivers and new customers in Denmark and Sweden. And both countries had to trust Signicat, to let their citizens log in with their BankID or MitID. Incredibly, just in the matter of five days, Signicat solved this intricate and very important log-in-process, something that normally would take up to half a year, Ola says before he adds:
– So when Hyre now quickly expands abroad, it is solely thanks to Signicat.
Needing to know if they are who they say they are
The problem is that his colleagues at Hyre can't meet and make a contract with everyone in person the second they need a car.
– Right, but Hyre obviously needs to know who all of these people are, and if they in fact are who they say they are. That's crucial for our survival as a business. Amongst other things, we want to know for sure if you have a valid driver's license and that you are above 18 years old. So we use digital identity solutions from Signicat to help us with these things, Ola says.
– Customers in Norway need to log in with BankID. This is a personal, national identification system. Signicat is linked to this whole system so we automatically and immediately validate if the driver is safely insured, credit safe, and can be responsible if something goes wrong, Ola says and pauses for a second.
– It's almost impossible to imagine running Hyre without the help from Signicat, he says.
– So what can go wrong?
– Well, there are possible fines and accidents involving cars that quickly run into the thousands. We did have someone drive through the window of a hairdresser in the middle of a busy shopping street in Oslo, Ola says with a little smile.
– Most often all goes well, but being able to trust a new driver's identity quickly, without ever meeting them in person, makes it possible for Hyre to say “Hey, in five minutes you can go from needing a car, to sitting behind the wheel”.