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MEF’s fourth Annual Consumer Trust Summit was recently held in in New York, where mobile privacy experts, MEF members and guests met to discuss the business critical issue of consumer trust and privacy. MEF CEO Rimma Perelmuter opened the event, and here offers a call to action for the industry to address the growing need to build trust & empower mobile consumers via the next phase in MEF’s Consumer Trust initiative.

Last month I was delighted to open MEF’s Consumer Trust Summit in New York. Our fourth annual event this year was co-located with Momentum’s Business of Privacy Summit and mobile leaders and privacy & security experts from across North America, LatAm and Europe gathered to advance the case for building trust in digital services.

MEF has  long championed Consumer Trust as being a fundamentally business critical issue and this year’s event created an interactive platform to take stock on where we are and crucially – where we need to go as an industry.

“Our research has shown that the biggest inhibitor to growth in mobile is consumer trust. 34% say the single biggest reason why they don’t purchase more on their mobile is a lack of trust in the platform”

The global mobile ecosystem is largely dependent on consumers sharing their personal data through apps and services leveraging technologies such as location-based services, as well as newer hyper data sensitive tracking devices enabled by the burgeoning wearables and Internet of Things space. Such innovations are key growth drivers for creating enhanced and tailored mobile solutions and evolving the continued expansion of these interconnected ecosystems.

However, if we are to build a sustainable market, the industry must strive to ensure there is absolute transparency in all transactions via the mobile device. Consumers need to better understand and accept the value exchange inherent in sharing their personal information, particularly when it comes to sensitive data – e.g. financial or healthcare-related or pertaining to children.  Establishing this level of trust is also particularly important when it comes to sharing information for identity related services with institutions and government entities, more so in a post Snowden revelation world.

One of the ways we look to help our members and the broader industry is by providing market insights to help provide a barometer of what consumers actually understand, prioritise and think about the mobile apps and services they use on a daily basis. Every year we quiz 15,000 consumers globally about their attitudes to mobile content and commerce and our ongoing research suggests that consumers don’t (yet) fully understand the value proposition around their personal data. But they are worried about it.

There’s no doubt consumers absolutely appreciate the opportunity mobile gives them. Our survey shows that convenience and immediacy are key drivers for engagement and purchase, and not just in richer, western markets; 85% of African mobile users have used their device for a mobile banking transaction, for example – compared to the global average of 69%.

However, our research has also shown that the biggest inhibitor to growth (and its growing year on year) is consumer trust. 34% say the single biggest reason why they don’t purchase more on their mobile is a lack of trust in the platform. By contrast if they are empowered and feel in control they’re likely to engage and purchase more.

That’s why we believe transparency and building trust are of paramount concern to any business interested in communicating and selling via mobile – a truth especially relevant for brands, retailers, healthcare and Government. Privacy and security are now a key USP in the technology battleground for some of the world’s biggest brands; Tim Cook recently pointed to trust as a key differentiator for Apple, calling the duty of care a “moral obligation”.

As such, MEF has chosen to make Consumer Empowerment as the key focus for the next phase of our key initiative engaging members such as AVG, Deutsche Telekom, Evernote, F-Secure, Mozilla, Vodafone and many more.

We believe that consumers will appreciate transparency and understanding the value exchange in sharing their personal data.  But we have to put their needs front and centre. That means properly explaining how services work and ensuring, not collecting or analyzing more data than is necessary, as well as protecting them from harm by creating new privacy and security-related services.

Rimma2015Rimma Perelmuter



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Our New York event made great strides in advancing the discussion on the risks for businesses that ignore consumers’ privacy & security related concerns and explored the opportunities for those that invest in building sustainable business models around new sectors and technologies as well as looking at how to strike the right balance between consumer protection, innovation and monetisation.

But the work has only just begun. If you want to get engaged in this exciting initiative then please do visit our website for more details. I can only urge you not to underestimate the significance of trust to the future of your business.

The 4th Annual Consumer Trust Summit was supported by F-Secure, AVG, FS VAS and KPMG Please get in touch for more details on getting involved with MEF’s Consumer Trust Member Working Group.