Online consumer reviews platform Trustpilot is to launch a global R&D and Innovation Hub which will create an initial 30 digital jobs in Edinburgh.
The venture, which is being backed by a £1.8 million R&D grant from Scottish Enterprise, was described as an “epicentre” for tackling abuse and fraud online. It will find new ways of weeding out fake or paid-for reviews that can mislead online shoppers.
The Edinburgh office will be led by former Skyscanner executive Carolyn Jameson, who joined Trustpilot as chief legal and policy officer in August last year, and Steve Garland, the Danish firm’s chief technology and information officer.
Trustpilot reviews are read by millions of consumers every month looking to ensure what they are buying is not a fake and that they are not buying from online fraudsters.
CEO and founder Peter Holten Muhlmann said: “The crisis of trust in society, driven to a great degree by mistrust in information online, has become a defining issue of our times.
“With the assistance of Scottish Enterprise, our new global R&D Hub will become the epientre for accelerating our already leading efforts to tackle abuse and fraud related to consumer information, particularly consumer reviews. It’s especially important as reviews have replaced company marketing as the most trusted source of information for consumers.
“We’re investing in even better fake detection to stimulate meaningful change. The technology scene in Edinburgh is thriving, with exceptional talent and an enviable network that will help us to meet our ambitions. We’re delighted to bring our global efforts to Scotland.”
The announcement follows on Muhlmann’s recent ‘Trust Promise’ made by in an open letter, pledging seven new initiatives this year to further protect consumers with even greater transparency of the information on Trustpilot.
One such initiative will be new ‘fraud fingerprinting’ technology which will combine with advanced data modelling to identify fraudsters and their networks, and predict their behaviour. The platform also aims to prevent incentivised reviews, enforce breaches more stringently and develop more transparency around how all companies and consumers use the platform.
Jameson, who has years of experience building consumer trust as chief legal officer during the early years of travel site Skyscanner, said: “We take the responsibility to protect both consumers and businesses from fraudulent behaviour very seriously, and believe strong detection and enforcement measures are fundamental to our open review platform.
“Creating a fair and open environment where consumers’ voices can be heard and businesses are able to earn greater trust in their products and services requires the best thinking and expertise. We believe Edinburgh is the top place to find it, and I’m really excited to be a part of this initiative.”
Mark Hallan, director of global investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Attracting global companies to invest and locate in Scotland will be critical to our efforts to resetting and restarting our economy following the impact of Covid-19.
“Trustpilot’s decision to set up an R&D centre in Edinburgh is most welcome. Over the past few months, we have seen exponential growth in digital consumer activity and ecommerce, so it’s vital that customers can trust information that is available online, including online reviews. Trustpilot’s R&D project aims to improve the integrity of this data, providing increased confidence for econsumers.
“Scotland remains an extraordinary proposition for global companies to invest in and as the recent EY Attractiveness Survey showed, we continue to be the most attractive location in the UK outside of London for foreign direct investment. While we know the environment for international trade and investment will be challenging due to Covid-19, inward investment will continue to be vital in delivering economic opportunities for communities across Scotland.”
Ivan McKee, Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, said: “I am delighted that Trustpilot has chosen to base its new global R&D and Innovation Hub in Edinburgh where it will develop world-leading technology. Over the coming months and years, as we recover from the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, it is important that we look to the future and encourage new and innovative businesses to establish bases in Scotland.
“This grant from Scottish Enterprise will help secure new highly skilled jobs in Scotland, bring new investment into our leading digital and technology sector and further enhance Edinburgh’s reputation as a global technology centre.”