EOS survey shows lack of digital trust in Germany.

Anyone wanting to use their customers’ data for more service and efficiency should make sure that they are trusted. However, the EOS survey “What’s the value of data?” shows that the majority of consumers in Germany continue to be skeptical in this regard.

Studies
  • Only 35 percent of Germans trust companies to handle digital data.
  • More than one in five German consumers (22 percent) has already had negative experiences with the disclosure of data online.
  • Trusted sector: 47 percent of Germans trust banks and online payment providers to handle their data.

When it comes to “digital trust” in its companies, Germany is not faring particularly well. Yet digital data is a valuable asset for companies, as it helps them to better understand their customers and their preferences and to respond to market trends. However, the willingness of consumers to disclose data is crucially dependent on trust.

The EOS survey “What’s the value of data?” revealed that only 35 percent of Germans believe “that companies handle my digital data responsibly”, while 54 percent stated that they were “very skeptical about disclosing data to companies”.
By way of comparison: At 47 percent, North Macedonians exhibit the highest level of digital trust. The most skeptical Europeans, on the other hand, are consumers in France, at 18 percent. A sobering insight is that in none of the 17 countries surveyed could a majority of consumers be persuaded to rely on companies in conjunction with the use of their data. The European average for this question is 33 percent. Accordingly, consumers are reticent about passing on their information.

This presents particular challenges for companies, because they increasingly rely on data-based systems to make their processes more efficient and offer more personalized services. Those who cannot win the trust of customers will be left behind in this race.

Digital trust: Infographic “Great skepticism about handling data”

Justified skepticism.

The reticence of consumers is not unwarranted. Even after four years, many people can still remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The data analytics firm had misused data collected from social networks on a huge scale to influence the US elections. Since then, the question “what exactly happens with my data” has remained unanswered for many internet users.

The EOS survey specifically shows what causes uncertainty among consumers, quite apart from major data scandals. More than one in five Germans (22 percent) has already had negative experiences with providing their data online. Many Germans also feel that they often do not have a choice about disclosing their details. Around two-thirds (63 percent) complain that they otherwise cannot make full use of many online services at all. In addition, more than half of German consumers do not believe they are adequately informed about how they can prevent or limit the disclosure of data. Against this background, transparency appears to be one of the main keys to achieving more digital trust.

Building digital trust.

As the survey shows, for many companies in Germany too, digital trust is still a huge work in progress. “This is something that EOS Deutscher Inkasso-Dienst is also working on,” explains Clemens Hosemann, Data Privacy Manager at EOS Deutscher Inkasso-Dienst (DID). “On our portal for defaulting payers in Germany we take a data minimization approach and focus only on the payment. We only collect the data really necessary for the payment process. This allows consumers to settle their debts very quickly and easily by themselves. Only the claim number, amount and necessary payment information are requested. No other personal details need to be revealed. Only those wishing to have a more customized processing arrangement may opt to volunteer additional details.”

Digital Trust: Clemens Hosemann, Data Privacy Manager at EOS in Germany
On our portal for defaulting payers in Germany we take a data minimization approach and focus only on the payment. We only collect the data really necessary for the payment process. Clemens Hosemann, Data Privacy Manager at EOS in Germany

Particularly in the case of the kinds of financial issues that bring EOS into contact with consumers, data minimization creates trust. For 69 percent of Germans, giving other people insight into their bank account is especially sensitive, while 68 percent feel the same about account and credit card details. Further down the sensitivity scale is information on income, which stands at nonetheless 32 percent. Henning Stolze, Head of Data Governance & Data Management at EOS DID, explains the approach that the financial services provider has adopted: “EOS uses data to achieve the best possible individualized management of receivables, and this benefits defaulting payers as well. We need to make this more transparent and at the same time build trust that the data will only be used for very specific purposes.”

Digital trust: Infographic “Which data do Germans consider to be the most sensitive?”

In all countries surveyed, banks and online payment providers enjoy the greatest level of digital trust among consumers: 54 percent of Europeans trust their bank to handle their data and 46 percent have confidence in online payment providers. In Germany the figure is 47 percent in each case.

Nevertheless, companies working in the financial sector would also be well advised to take other trust-building measures. This includes above all the data minimization approach mentioned above. “Nowadays, the question is: Which data do I really need?” says Stolze. “We need to reduce information asymmetry and give consumers back a sense of control over their data.” Stolze also sees the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) as a positive development that has already increased confidence in the use of data in many areas and created the necessary transparency.

The experience of EOS experts is that the more self-determination and flexibility given to consumers the greater their trust in disclosing data to companies. The proof of this is reflected in a specific business advantage for EOS: a higher payment rate.

What’s the value of data? Henning Stolze, Head of Data Governance & Data Management, EOS Deutscher Inkasso-Dienst.
We need to reduce information asymmetry and give consumers back a sense of control over their data.
Henning Stolze, Head of Data Governance & Data Management at EOS in Germany

About the representative EOS survey

“What’s the value of data?” 2020

The EOS survey “What’s the value of data?”, which was conducted in partnership with market research institute Kantar in the spring of 2020, is representative of the (online) population over the age of 18 in the 17 countries polled. A random sample of 1,000 respondents from each of the countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA, and 300 respondents from North Macedonia, was used for the analysis. The survey participants answered questions on their personal handling and disclosure of data, their trust in companies, and their willingness to sell data for compensation. 

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Photo credits: EOS / Benne Ochs, Getty Images

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