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  • Privacy (16%) remains the most influential trust-related concern.
  • Financial details are the most sensitive type of personal data (55%)
  • Identity theft is the most pressing concern when it comes to the misuse of data (47%)

As businesses get ready for the new General Data Protection Regulation, consumers’ attitudes and behaviours around data driven services appear to be changing as well.

A new type of smartphone user – the ‘Savvy Consumer’ – has been identified in the annual Global Consumer Trust study from Mobile Ecosystem Forum whose report launched today in association with ForgeRock.

The emergence of the Savvy Consumer

Heightened awareness of privacy, security and identity issues is prompting distinct changes in behaviour. For example, 75% of respondents always or sometimes read privacy policies and terms of conditions before signing up to a mobile app or service.

86% go on to take some kind of action if their trust is challenged. Almost half will stop using a service (a year-on-year increase from 38% to 44%) and nearly one in three (30%) warn friends and family. At the same time, the ‘Savvy Consumer’ also rewards businesses they trust with almost half (47%) recommending them to friends and family, and 44% leaving a positive review.

The report, based on a 10-country study carried out by On Device Research on behalf of MEF, also shows businesses that consumer motivations extend beyond the ‘loyalty upside’ of building trust to also recognise the value of services created by offering more control and choice over how their personal data is managed.

For example, when asked what consumers would value in exchange for their sharing personal data privacy-protection and access to their data (31%) were found to be more important than financial rewards (29%) and discounts (22%).

One in three (33%) understand that the benefit of transferring data between providers – portability – might help them save time, and one in four (25%) would appreciate faster identity verification.

A lack of trust continues to hold back the market opportunity

For the fourth consecutive year, the 10-country study found a lack of trust to be the largest obstacle to greater market adoption of mobile products and services. In 2017, the number of respondents naming one or more trust issues as the most important barrier increased from 35% to 40%.

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One in four (25%) say they are completely prevented from buying, downloading or using apps, an increase from 14% last year. Security is an important driver with 15% saying it is the single largest barrier to doing more with their mobile device.

Privacy and identity are also key concerns, with 43% interested in using a privacy-focussed app that shows what data is being collected across all of the user’s connected devices and 47% worried about identity theft. A third (32%) said they can’t be sure that the app/service provider is who they say they are.

Transparency and ‘right to be forgotten’ named as key trust enablers

When asked what makes an app or service trustworthy, more people (33%) pointed to a ‘clear, simple privacy statement’ than any other response.

More than half (53%) said it was extremely important to know that an app or service is using their personal data and 61% said it was important that a company deletes personal data held when asked.

Rimma Perelmuter, MEF’s CEO commented: “MEF’s annual consumer trust study is a barometer of evolving consumer attitudes and carries significant lessons for the mobile ecosystem. This year’s study shows a paradigm shift with the emergence of the ‘Savvy Consumer’ and identifies clear business benefits for all stakeholders to create data-driven services built on trust, transparency and control.

Heightened consumer sensitivity combined with increased awareness of the value of their personal data means that the industry needs to shift its mindset and default to a position of putting the consumer first. The opportunity is to design products and services or create new business models that are based on a fair and trusted value exchange in order to meet changing consumer demands.”

“The trend line is clear, and becoming urgent. Building trusted digital relationships in a mobile context is not just a matter of doing the minimum to satisfy regulators. It must involve satisfying consumers’ needs for personal data protection, giving them transparency into what you know about them, and providing options for consent, choice and control,” said Eve Maler, VP Innovation & Emerging Technology at ForgeRock. “If you can strike – and keep – a respectful bargain with Savvy Consumers [using a comprehensive identity, security, and privacy approach], they will in turn give you more visibility into their information.”

Ludovic Levy, Vice President, Global Data Strategy and Governance at Orange added, “As the handling of data becomes increasingly intrinsic to our business and many others, we are acutely aware of the importance of trust in the relationship with consumers. The results of this welcome survey shine a light on the status of that relationship, for all businesses to take note of.

With much work clearly still to be done, collaboration across all industry sectors is of critical importance to improve transparency, increase control and provide further education for people.”

MEF’s Global Consumer Trust study is supported by ForgeRock, Orange, and On Device Research surveyed 6,500 consumers in 10 markets: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, South, Africa, Spain, UK and USA in Q2 2017.