Just 31 percent of consumers in Asia-Pacific believe their personal information will be managed in a trustworthy way by businesses offering digital services, with only 5 percent willing to transact with companies that offer cheaper but less trusted digital platforms. The apparent lack of trust in digital companies is understandable, considering almost 40 percent have had their trust compromised whilst using such services.
In addition, 53 percent of respondents in the region would move to another organisation if their trust in the company was negatively impacted, revealed a study commissioned by Microsoft. Conducted by IDC Asia-Pacific, the survey polled 6,372 consumers -- aged between 15 and 75 -- across 14 regional markets including Singapore, India, Indonesia, China, Japan, and Australia. These respondents were digitally active in their daily lives, turning to online platforms to carry out various activities in the last three months, including banking, shopping, and social media.
The study also found that 36 percent would reduce their use of digital services if their trust was negatively impacted, while 34 percent would stop using such services completely.
Asked to assess the importance of five trust elements, 88 percent of respondents pointed to security and 87 percent cited privacy. Another 84 percent looked for reliability, according to the survey, which found consumers to have the highest expectations of trust from financial services institutions, healthcare providers, and education institutions.
And while only 5 percent would transact with organisations that offered cheaper but less trusted digital platforms, 61 percent would recommend a more costly digital service option if they found it trustworthy.
"Despite consumers' increasing reliance on digital services, there is still a considerable trust gap that needs to be addressed," said Microsoft's Asia associate general counsel for corporate external and legal affairs Antony Cook. "Most consumers still do not perceive organisations to be trusted data stewards. I urge business leaders to do more to understand what drives consumer trust and focus on how they can build trust and make it a key competitive advantage for their digital services."
The study revealed that 43 percent of Asia-Pacific consumers believed governments should lead efforts in building trust, while 35 percent felt the private sector should assume this role.
IDC's Asia-Pacific vice president of security practice Simon Piff noted: "Trust is critical for organisations to succeed in this digital world as consumers overwhelmingly prefer to transact with organisations with a trusted digital platform. As competition between digital services becomes more intense and global in nature, advocacy through word of mouth can be a strong differentiator for the organisation and a shot in the arm for the brand."
Majority of consumers in Asia-Pacific already own at least one Internet of Things (IoT) device and plan to buy more, but 81 percent fear their personal data is being leaked and 71 percent worry about being monitored without their consent.
Threat actors are collaborating more effectively than legit businesses in the region, which aren't sharing enough intelligence with others in the industry, says Microsoft Asia CSO.
Some 35 percent of Asia-Pacific companies view the potential failure of securing sensitive data as a top barrier to digital transformation, while others cite rigid IT systems and inability to migrate to the cloud.
Following several breaches involving government entities, Singapore's prime minister has assembled a committee to review data security practices in the public sector, but the government stands firm on excluding these agencies from the country's Personal Data Protection Act.
Singapore government has been opening up user data access to ease information exchange and business transactions, but it should observe some caution as major organisations continue to slip up over security.