Canadian companies looking to attract and retain customers with Internet bill delivery and payment solutions would be well-advised to put respect for consumer privacy at the top of their lists of New Year's resolutions.
Research released by Gallup shows that over 40% of Canadian Internet users are more inclined to pay their bills online if they are assured the privacy of their personal information is protected.
The research, which was commissioned by e-billing solutions provider Derivion, finds that Canadians want control over their personal information including how it is gathered; how it will be used; and with whom, if anyone, it will be shared. Of those who only surf the Web, four in ten would be more inclined to participate in online transactions such as Internet bill pay or e-banking, if they were confident that their privacy would be respected. One quarter of these respondents would be more inclined to shop or trade online.
Seven out of ten say that they are more willing to conduct online activities such as bill payment with a company that has a privacy seal than one that does not.
The research also suggests that online trust is built through offline relationships. Fifty-six per cent of respondents agree that they will only share personal information with companies with whom they have a previously established relationship.
With respect to paying bills, respondents were asked their comfort level on a variety of bill payment options. "In person at the bank" was viewed as the most private method of bill payment followed by "in person at the company", and "at the ATM".
"As consumers move away from a familiar bricks and mortar way of doing business, the issue of privacy is not surprising," says Gordon Graham, president and CEO of e-route, an e-commerce company established as a joint venture between Canada's leading banks. "The research shows that people already trust their banks, and e-route's financial institutions want to maintain that bond."