Consumers have no digital trust in companies.
Only a minority of consumers worldwide believe that companies handle their personal data in a trustworthy way. This was one of the findings of a representative EOS survey “What’s the value of data?”. Which information is regarded as very sensitive, and in which countries are people particularly skeptical?
- Only 33 percent of Europeans trust companies to handle digital data. In the USA this applies to only one in four consumers.
- Bringing up the rear in the trust rankings are telecommunications companies, the online retail sector, social networks and messaging services.
- One in four to one in five consumers has already had a bad online experience with the use of personal data.
The current US election is causing a lot of turmoil. And the presidential election four years ago had also created a huge stir. In this conjunction, let’s recall a firm that was responsible for a sensational data scandal. The data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had illegally analyzed the private information of tens of millions of Facebook users and as a result had influenced political campaigns like Brexit or the US presidential election in 2016. As reported among others by the Swiss publication “Magazin”, psychological personality profiles of these Facebook users were produced, which were then used to send out targeted appeals to voters. Although it may never be entirely clear to what extent this misuse of data was crucial to the outcome of the election, the scandal made horrifyingly clear that many people don’t really know exactly what social networks, for example, are using their data for.
Instead of ‘collecting data for data's sake’, we pursue a data minimization approach and collect data only for specific purposes.
The Cambridge Analytica affair demonstrated yet again that the responsible handling of digital information is more important than ever. Data helps companies to better understand customer requirements and respond sooner to market trends, but customers need to be able to believe that the companies they are sharing personal information with will handle it correctly. And this is precisely where some things are in a sorry state, as only one in three Europeans trusts companies to handle their digital data. Among Americans, the level of mistrust is even greater, only 23 percent, whereas no less than 41 percent of Russians trust companies to handle private information. The reason for this skepticism is that one in five consumers has already had a bad experience with the use of their data online. These were the findings of a representative survey “What’s the value of data?” conducted in 17 countries by financial services provider and investor EOS in partnership with market research institute Kantar.
The survey also documents differences between sectors. Accordingly, banks enjoy the highest level of trust: 54 percent in Europe and Russia and 56 percent in the USA. Other sectors have to deal with much higher levels of mistrust. On average across Europe, only 28 percent trust telecommunications companies, 21 percent online retailers and just 14 percent social networks and messaging services. That many people nevertheless reveal a lot about themselves to Facebook etc., from contact information to purchasing and movement profiles, is due to the fact that consumers do distinguish between the importance of different types of data. Financial data are considered to be particularly sensitive, whereas fitness or consumer data, for example, are regarded as less worthy of protection.
As the survey shows, banks can benefit from a certain trust advantage when it comes to the use of data. In this context they are facing the challenge of improving their processes through the efficient use of data while at the same time only requesting the data that are necessary. Debt collection service provider EOS also endeavors to minimize the data it collects. “Instead of ‘collecting data for data's sake’, we pursue a data minimization approach and collect data only for specific purposes,” explains Stephan Bovermann, Senior Group Privacy Officer at EOS Group. With a team of around 60 people worldwide, he looks after data privacy and information security in all 26 countries where EOS operates.
One example of the kind of data minimization approach that inspires trust is the EOS service portals in various countries that enable defaulting payers to settle their outstanding debts. These portals only request the information necessary to make the payment. “Our online portals facilitate simple and self-determined access to unpaid debts,” says Esther van Oirsouw, Head of Portals & Integration at EOS Technology Solutions. “After entering the individual case number the payments can be made with just a few clicks. And for the majority of payment methods offered, no personal data has to be provided. Because we know from experience that the more self-determination and flexibility we create, the better the payment rate and the greater the trust in us.”
Our online portals provide defaulting payers with simple and self-determined access to their unpaid debt. After entering the individual case number the payments can be made with just a few clicks.
For many companies, the challenge is still to respond appropriately to the mistrust of customers. Because there is significant skepticism about the handling of personal data in all countries surveyed. And many respondents feared that they did not even have a choice about revealing information. Around two-thirds of Europeans (66 percent), 58 percent of Americans and as many as four in five of Russian consumers complain that they cannot use a lot of online services without disclosing their data. Among respondents from Europe, the USA and Russia, an average of 63 percent say that they do not have the necessary information to prevent or at least limit the disclosure of their data. So there is still a lot of work to be done, and in this conjunction, companies need to create more transparency, so that the company and its customers can do business on an equal footing.
About the representative EOS survey
“What’s the value of data?” 2020
The EOS survey “What’s the value of data?”, which was conducted in partnership with market research institute Kantar in the spring of 2020, is representative of the (online) population over the age of 18 in the 17 countries polled. A random sample of 1,000 respondents from each of the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA, and 300 respondents from North Macedonia, was used for the analysis. The survey participants answered questions on their personal handling and disclosure of data, their trust in companies, and their willingness to sell data for compensation.
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Photo credits: Getty Images, Benne Ochs