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A third of consumers don’t trust their banks, highlighting more work needed to communicate digital safety – reports Utimaco

August 2023 by Utimaco

Utimaco trusted cybersecurity and compliance solutions and services to its customers across the globe, has released new research that reports a high level of trust between the general public and financial institutions (FIs) in regard to data security (64%). While this reflects the work done by FIs to ensure that they have some of the highest levels of digital security outside of the military, more is needed to better communicate this to the general public.

The whitepaper, ’Circles of Trust 2023: Exploring Consumer Trust in the Digital Society’, was completed by surveying thousands of respondents from the U.S., Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. Much like last year’s research, it aimed at establishing a baseline for how people in each area view digital security – whether they feel safe online, their knowledge of digital threats and the precautions they take to stay safe. This year, the scope had a laser focus on banking and payments, as well as ’Internet of Things’ technology, and smart cities.

The research’s general reporting on digital security showed a marked difference between responses from countries with the highest and lowest GDP per capita and those in the center of the GDP per capita distribution. Put simply, the poorest and richest countries showed the most enthusiasm about digital technology in their lives and the least concern about security, though in the case of the US they also reported much higher levels of cybercrime than other countries.

However, when asked about trust in FIs, the picture was more complicated. Worldwide, 64% reported trusting their main FIs to keep their money and data secure, and only 5% said that they do not trust FIs at all (generally distrust was higher in countries with a lower GDP per capita, rising as high as 13% in Mexico). This is generally a positive result for the financial sector, reflecting years of investment in technology and a very low rate of cybercrime that directly targets banks etc., but shows that there is still much to do in order to show the remaining 36% that their money is safe.

The other interest area was exploring which form of payment consumers believed was the most secure. Despite the high level of trust in FIs, cash was by far the most trusted form of payment, with 36% rating it the safest, including 59% of Germans, due to a cultural preference for physical money and a low crime rate. Cryptocurrency was rated as the least secure form of payment, with only 3% of consumers worldwide saying that it was secure. Crypto was also the second least-preferred form of payment to use, coming only one percentage point above cheques.

The research also showed that consumers consider digital security an important factor when choosing an FI. Only 4% of consumers worldwide answered that it was not important, and only 7% said that it was a low priority, with 9% responding that they didn’t know. The remainder of the survey respondents, 81% worldwide, answered that it was a high priority, indicating that FIs need to communicate how they are making their customers safer.

"Banks and financial institutions have worked hard to earn a high level of trust, so much so that only around 20% of global consumers have been affected by a loss of funds from their bank account. But with increased threats of cyber attacks and new and emerging ways of making payments, it is critical that financial institutions remain vigilant," says Stefan Auerbach, CEO, Utimaco. "This is where our Circles of Trust whitepaper is a vital piece of research, highlighting the need for financial institutions to have proven and reliable cybersecurity solutions in place to maintain and improve high consumer trust."

The latest edition of the ’Circles of Trust’ is released in the same year that Utimaco is celebrating its 40th year pioneering trusted cybersecurity and compliance solutions and services to customers across the globe.

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