Uber is rolling out a ‘realtime ID check’ feature to ensure that the driver using the app matches the account registered with the ride-hailing platform. The feature is being launched in five cities in India—Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata—and more locations will follow, Uber said in a blog post.

With the new feature, drivers will be asked periodically to take a selfie in the Uber app before they accept rides. Then using Microsoft’s Cognitive Services, the selfie will be compared to the one corresponding to the account on file. If the two photos do not match, the account would be temporarily blocked while Uber looks into the matter.

In India, Uber has 4 lakh driver partners registered on its platform, who operate in 29 cities.

“In India, as of now, we have seen some isolated incidents where riders have reported a mismatch and more often than not it was a case of human error at the driver partner’s end (where drivers sharing a vehicle missed logging out of the app, etc),” the company said.

Through this proactive feature, Uber wants to ensure such incidents are pre-empted and thereby, avoided completely. “Realtime ID check prompts drivers to share a selfie before going online to help ensure the driver using the app matches the account we have on file. This prevents fraud and protects drivers’ accounts from being compromised,” Uber Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said.

It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel, he added. “We believe this new initiative will go a long way in keeping our riders and drivers in the city safe and our rides reliable like never before,” Sullivan emphasised.

Uber has extensively piloted and rolled out the feature in the US last year. The average verification time, it said, is just a few seconds and the technology was successful in verifying more than 99 per cent of the drivers in the pilot programme.

“Our trust and safety team continues to explore technologies that keep riders and drivers safe and secure,” the post said. The feature is also being rolled out in other markets like South Africa, Egypt, Russia, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.