Sidehide Creates Secure Hotel Booking App for Post-Pandemic World
When Sidehide began life in late 2018, its co-founders had no idea they were creating a hotel reservation experience that would be perfect for the post-pandemic world. From the start, they had an original idea: to create an app that would take all the hassle out of making last minute hotel reservations, for both customers and hotels. It was such a simple idea, in fact, that they wondered why it hadn’t been done before.
After doing some research, they found out why. At each step of the process, Security could be compromised. To complicate matters, the hospitality industry is extremely fragmented, with different technology standards and regulations in different countries. If they could find a way to fix these issues, they might be successful in creating a secure hotel booking app. At the same time, the application had to be extremely user-friendly. If it wasn’t quick and easy, they knew it wouldn’t last long.
âIn order to be able to create the ultimate, near-contactless user experience, we needed to find a way to 100% guarantee that the user is who they say they are, that they are not using a stolen passport and that their payments are legitimate. Said CEO Joakim Hultin, who founded Sidehide with Fredrik Rodievis.
The best way to ensure security throughout the process, the co-founders decided, was to build the app from scratch with security at its heart. This would be the only way to address the security risks inherent in hotel reservation and check-in processes, both by booking directly with hotels and through major hotel aggregation sites. In a typical situation, for example, hotels and websites often run into issues with fake IDs and fraudulent payments. At the time of registration, the process is often insecure and manual as well.
In an effort to create a secure hotel booking app around a verified identity, Hultin and his partner began to search. Hultin found the solution by accident; While doing his mobile banking, he noticed that the banking integration app was doing a lot of what he was looking for. The answer turned out to be Onfido’s technology, which provides identity verification Technology. The duo decided to create the app with Onfido’s identity and document verification, as well as Stripe’s payment security.
This combination of technologies has allowed Sidehide to become what it is today: an app that offers a seamless and secure experience from booking to check-in. To use the mobile app only, users download the app and register. The registration process includes uploading a selfie and a photo of a government issued ID. Then, in less than a minute, the app verifies the ID to make sure the face matches the ID, and the ID is verified. Users only complete this process once.
Once users are verified, they can find hotel alternatives and book right in the app. They pay through the app, which verifies the payment. Users then go directly to the hotel, present a boarding pass in the app, and collect the room key.
Under the covers
During the registration process, Onfido technology verifies identity by comparing the face in the photo to the face on the government-issued ID using facial sweep. The app then compares the face biometrics to the photo on the ID, verifying that the selfie was a live photo. It then compares that information to thousands of local databases around the world that contain up-to-date information on stolen credentials, using artificial intelligence to find anomalies. If the system signals that something is wrong, Onfido can also provide a quick manual check.
To protect against payment fraud, the app uses Stripe to process all card payments. When a user makes a payment in the secure Sidehide hotel reservation app, Stripe validates it and then sends 90% of the payment directly to the hotel and the remaining 10%, the commission from Sidehide, to Sidehide.
Over its short lifespan, Sidehide has proven its worth, both because of its secure nature and because the contactless and non-contact aspect of the app has proven to be a perfect fit in today’s times. . Recently, the application partnered with a major partner, which enabled it to grow from 550 hotel partners in Europe to nearly 30,000 hotels in Europe and North America.
As the company considers what it will take to scale globally, it is actively looking for additional features. One of the most important is finding a way to deal with the extra purchases that guests make while staying at the hotel. If, for example, they take items from the minibar, Hultin wants these charges to be treated in the same non-contact and non-contact manner.
âWhen guests leave the hotel, they will receive a notification with their outstanding balance,â Hultin said. “Once they approve the balance, the same process happens – it’s billed automatically and 90% go to the hotel, while 10% go to Sidehide.”
To guard against fraud or major expenses, such as a guest having an expensive bottle of champagne in the room, Sidehide is also considering adding third party liability insurance to protect against liability.
âNo insurance company would even consider insuring us against theft if we didn’t have all of these security processes in place,â Hultin said. âBecause our security is so verifiable, we’re more likely to be able to get that assurance. “