Consumer trust in the digital age: why privacy has become a differentiator

&It’s no surprise that the average consumer’s definition of privacy has changed. As more and more of our lives are conducted online, the notion of privacy is discussed in digital terms.

Not every business or market can consider privacy equally, however. Over the last 20 years, consumer behavior has demonstrated a privacy hierarchy. Adults are less concerned about networks dealing with their social privacy, more concerned about maintaining their privacy during transactions with financial institutions and e-commerce providers, and extremely concerned about guarding their privacy with government agencies.

>See also: The digital age is killing privacy – but does anybody actually care?

Due to the frequency with which adults use banks or e-commerce websites, privacy within financial institutions and businesses has a higher potential for making major impacts on consumer privacy. The question then becomes: how can a company effectively interact with a customer while keeping a level of privacy that both parties feel comfortable with?

What it boils down to is the give-to-get factor, or understanding how consumers who are providing businesses with their personal information stand to benefit. The answer to that is speed.

To learn how speed comes into play, it’s important to know the ways in which consumer transactions have changed. Think about it, not that long ago, we would go to the bank and stand in line for the teller in order to withdraw cash. Today we get it from an ATM, anytime we need it.

Moving funds between accounts or allocating stock is another example. In the past, if you couldn’t do this in person, written authorisation of your transaction was required via snail mail. Now all you need is an online account to log in and make your changes with just a few quick clicks of the mouse.

But perhaps the most obvious shift is with shopping. Where once shopping in-store or via catalogue was the norm, now there is the luxury of e-commerce.

A couple things jump out from those examples. One, nearly everything we do today from a financial or transactional standpoint can be done online, often in real time. And two, in order to shorten that transactional time to match our collective expectations, nearly every type of consumer interaction with businesses has gone digital.

These changes are faster and more convenient for consumers. But in order to provide them at the speed that people have come to expect, businesses are forced to remove the friction of gathering identifying data from consumers.

While consumers enjoy the feeling of privacy in their digital transactions, businesses need easy access to the individual user’s personal information for identity verification.

To combat the risk of fraud and other impacts of identity theft, those businesses that want to enable fast, convenient digital transactions need information, generally digital information, about individuals.

Information such as name, phone number, address and email are the typical data points that businesses require, and that’s because they are easier to verify than confidential PII. Getting consumers to come to terms with information sharing is where financial institutions and businesses run into trouble.

Even though consumers demand speed and ease of use, they are afraid to share their personal information with companies. A recent study showed that 91% of adults agree that consumers have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by companies.

>See also: Why a data privacy officer should be your company’s next hire

That means that financial institutions and businesses have some making up to do with their consumers. Businesses should be more up front about the benefits that their consumers receive from sharing their information with them. They want speed and efficiency, so telling them that their transaction will process in five days instead of eight will improve their opinion.

Having a clear privacy policy that’s easy to access is also key to gaining a consumer’s trust. And allowing consumers the ability to opt into data collection and authenticate their information gives them a sense of control, and a feeling of empowerment that builds trust.


Sourced from Rob Eleveld, Whitepages Pro

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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