Security or Convenience: Do Actions Speak Louder than Words?

Do consumers really value security over convenience or is something else happening during online transactions?

To buy or not to buy, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to make customers suffer the slings and arrows of strong security or to take arms against a sea of passwords and oppose them with a delightful buying experience. According to the newly published report “The Global State of Online Digital Trust“, close to half (41 percent) of all business executives place a higher value on convenience than security when it comes to authentication, but the majority (86 percent) of consumers prefer security over convenience.

Let’s explore this further. Why do consumers value security over convenience? Or do they? I’d like to take a look at a few use cases and dig into the seeming dichotomy of what consumers say they want and what they actually do.

There is a difference between shopping and buying. When you shop, you look around, take your time and compare prices, which is all very easy to do online. Online merchants may want to know more about you so they can entice you to buy from them, but they don’t have to strongly authenticate you. You are free to roam. But once you find the perfect thing you are looking for at the best price, it’s go time. When the rubber meets the road and you enter your payment information, you expect those goods to be on their way to you. But, if the merchant wants you to enter a one-time password, answer security questions, or to clear other security hurdles, people get frustrated. There is plenty of evidence that shows when you create a security barrier that makes the transaction difficult, customers will abandon it and then the merchant loses out on potential revenue. As a matter of fact, 68 percent of users will abandon an app or brand after less than 6 seconds of delay. And that’s what business executives lose sleep over. So the result showing that 41 percent of business executives place a higher value on convenience makes perfect sense. The same psychology exists in many other use cases such as loyalty programs, in which you’re ready to use those points for your summer vacation and you want to grab the value immediately.

So if consumers abandon transactions when faced with security measures, why do they place a higher value on security when asked? Consider this statistic from Javelin Strategy and Research. “Identity fraud affected a record number of victims in 2017, again. Fraud incidence blew past the previous year’s record level, affecting 6.64 percent (16.7 million) of consumers in 2017.

It’s these types of statistics that are the heart of why consumers are worried about security. This is what is in the news. I’m sure we all know someone who has been affected by fraud. So when asked, it also makes sense that consumers say security is more important than convenience. They are concerned about security but at the point of sale, there’s a different psychology at play.

What can business executives take away from this? Two things: 1) make sure to include security in your marketing message, consumers want security, they just don’t want to deal with it; 2) make sure you implement security by taking advantage of risk and behavior analytics to authenticate your customers. With sophisticated risk analytics, you can detect a legitimate user and let them continue on.

Only challenge with stronger authentication when the risk is high. Both you and your customers will be happy when you stop that cybercriminal.

Download The Global State of Online Digital Trust.

Carol Alexander

Carol Alexander (@carolalexander) is head of Product Marketing for Digital Payments Security at CA Technologies.