Online risk management firm Watchfire has sponsored a survey of online banking customers that suggests TRUST is the thing to pay attention to.
There are a lot of tables and charts, and some reasonable commentary, but from my perspective, it's this trust and loyalty thing that is interesting and new. Although the commentary suggests that trust creates loyalty, that seems too simple. The picture looks like this: people with more of their wallet at one institution tend to shop around less, and tend to have higher trust. So maybe the real formula here is this: if you are trustworthy, I may give you more of my business, and have greater confidence to conduct business online.
The study also suggests that breaches of trust will be dealt with harshly. Well, we need to wait and see on that one, because consumer inertia in matters of financial services is legendary. I suspect the issue is a lot less salient when someone else had the problem than when it happened to you or someone you know.
We'll have lots of opportunities to test this idea, since major breaches of security are becoming alarmingly commonplace: ChoicePoint, and now MasterCard.
ChoicePoint was a spin-off from credit bureau powerhouse Equifax, who compromised the privacy of many thousands of people by unintentionally selling private data to crooks, enabling them to perpetrate identity thefts on a large scale. You can read ChoicePoint's apology to people who were compromised here.
The real story here is about the impact these problems are going to ultimately have on data mining -- maybe we've already had the golden age?