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Nexmo’s SMS API and Two-Factor Authentication Bolster BlaBlaCar’s Passenger and Driver Confidence



ChallengeBlaBlaCar required a method of user verification to weed out fraudulent registrants and effectively build a peer-to-peer trust community at scale. In addition, BlaBlaCar aimed to increase their conversion rates for mobile verifications to ensure consistent user acquisition.

SolutionNexmo’s SMS API with two-factor authentication, using Adaptive RoutingTM technology that analyzes millions of conversions and determines the highest performing routes in real-time.

ResultsBlaBlaCar is now able to send SMS messages quickly and reliably, thereby achieving significantly higher verification success rates.

As more and more stories of scams, stolen identities, and fraudulent transactions proliferate today’s headlines, common sense dictates that caution must be taken when dealing with online “strangers.” Understandably, people are apprehensive about trusting someone they’ve never met. That’s why, when co-founders Frédéric Mazzella, Nicolas Brusson and Francis Nappez, introduced their ridesharing app, BlaBlaCar, in 2006, they knew that providing safety and security to both drivers and passengers would be critical to their success.

From its humble beginnings in France, BlaBlaCar has grown to be the world’s leading long-distance carpooling platform. The app offers a marketplace to connect drivers who are traveling long distances and have empty seats to passengers looking for a ride. And in 2018, BlaBlaCar introduced its new short-distance, commuter carpooling service, BlaBlaLines.

Currently, BlaBlaCar’s membership is over 70 million users. “That’s 10 million more than Uber’s global user base and 3 million more passengers than British Airways handles each year,” according to a 2018 article in CondéNast/Traveler. Servicing over 18 million travelers every quarter in 22 countries, BlaBlaCar has become a smashing success, offering a practical, social, and cost-effective alternative to trains, planes, and single passenger road trips.

Simply A Matter of Trust

Thanks to technology and new digital trust tools, online platforms such as BlaBlaCar enable individuals to create “profiles” that include verified information and peer ratings from previous experiences. The information in a person’s profile allows travelers who have never met before to make informed decisions about whether or not to begin their BlaBlaCar journey together.

“User verification is critically important to building organic trust with our users,” said Nicolas Schwartz, former Technology Lead, BlaBlaCar. “We required an SMS partner to help us scale this effort in our various global markets, and Nexmo did just that. Between the ease of integration, low prices, fast response rate for customer support issues, and easily navigable docs, we’ve been very impressed with Nexmo.”

Erwann Robin, currently a technical product manager at BlaBlaCar, understands how important it is to use the best technology for an app that relies on trusted information and dependable communications. “Technology is everything. Our users’ travel plans rely on us. If we don’t deliver great service, it can ruin their plans and they will lose faith in the company.”

Erwann explains that the verification processes in place are extremely important to build trust. The first thing BlaBlaCar verifies is the customer’s phone number, by sending a text message. “If the text message takes too long to be transmitted or is not delivered, we’ve lost a user. Using Nexmo’s two-way SMS with two-factor authentication greatly decreases our concerns about this.”

Nexmo’s Advantages: Changes for the Better

According to Erwann, BlaBlaCar switched to Nexmo to support the company’s international expansion needs. “Nexmo was able to provide great technology with a deeper reach into those countries where we were expanding. We needed wider coverage in those regions and Nexmo was able to readily deliver that.”

After partnering with Nexmo, BlaBlaCar saw further improvements to their communications with their users. They can now instantly send SMS verification codes to users who register for their service via Nexmo’s SMS API. Unlike other vendors that determine the quality of these message transactions from delivery receipts (which can be unreliable or even falsified), Nexmo offers Adaptive Routing technology that analyzes millions of conversions and determines the highest performing routes in real-time. BlaBlaCar also relies on SMS notification to provide customers with information about their booking or their scheduled trip.

“Nexmo’s ease of use and support makes things a lot simpler in terms of customer communications,” said Erwann. “We also appreciate Nexmo’s responsiveness. If any issues do arise, Nexmo is very quick to respond and react. We have a high level of confidence in Nexmo’s support team. We can talk to our account manager whenever we want, anytime, and we’ll always get an answer quickly.

“Also, the fact that Nexmo supports a wide range of channels is extremely important to our business. We understand that Nexmo now supports WhatsApp for Business and we are very happy about that new option.”

Results Achieved with Nexmo SMS API

With the help of Nexmo’s SMS API, BlaBlaCar continues to send SMS communications quickly and reliably, with consistently high verification success rates. The following measurements have been achieved by BlaBlaCar using Nexmo:

  • 15% lower SMS delivery costs
  • Significant decrease in price per acquired user
  • Cost savings in overall communications spend by avoiding sending messages to duplicate or illicit numbers.

“If the text message takes too long to be transmitted or is not delivered, we’ve lost a user. Using Nexmo’s two-way SMS with twofactor authentication greatly decreases our concerns about this.”

Erwann Robin Technical Product Manager

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