eCommerce ResourcesECnow.com Speaking

Internet Marketing



Security, Privacy & Other Non-monetary Forms of Currency

ECMgt.com brought to you by ECnow.com
Your Link to Worldwide eCommerce Developments
November 1, 1999 *2,600 subscribers* Volume 1, Issue 10
ECMgt.com Online:
View this Issue:
Print this Issue:

ECnow.com 1999 trend #01: "While consumer-based security concerns continue to decrease, privacy concerns will increase leading companies for focus on the non-monetary forms of currency (time, attention, trust and convenience)"

Signup for ECnow.com's monthly eZine, now called VMS3.info
Enter your e-mail address below and click on 'signup'
E-Mail Address:

Comments From Our Readers

Our bulletin board allows readers to comment on trends and issues throughout the month. Please stop by to add your comments and see all the responses at http://ecmgt.com/bulletinboard.htm

Question of the Month

The topic for November focuses on security, privacy and non-monetary forms of currently. It's a three-part question:

  • How important to consumers are non-monetary forms of "currency" or value, such as time, attention, trust and convenience? To what extent are companies focusing on these value propositions?
  • How concerned do you think consumers currently are with privacy issues compared to security issues? Are they more concerned with one than the other, or do they not differentiate between security and privacy?
  • How large and what type of concern do you feel that consumers have with privacy issues?

Selected Answers of the Month

Non-monetary concerns are very important and companies are definitely addressing these issues by attempting to build brand. Brand is synonymous with trust. Consumers are more likely to spend the time and money on a known and trusted vs. a no-name site. There are many ways in which to build trust of which business practices form a big component. Business practices include privacy policies, security technologies, return policies and overall user friendliness of the site.

In the past, security concerns ranked higher than privacy concerns. Recent efforts by industry have succeeded in lowering security concerns and privacy concerns have become the number one concern of web users. For two straight years, the Georgia Tech user survey has cited privacy as the most important factor influencing the success of the Internet. There are still a great number of users who confuse security and privacy issues. They are both very different issues. Security deals with the appropriate technology and internal processes that sites use to guarantee the safety of information entrusted to them by users. Privacy deals with what the site will do with the information collected from the user and what control the user has over this, including access to their information.

Privacy concerns are huge. According to Jupiter Communications, e-commerce companies stand to lose $18 billion of a potential $42 billion market in 2002 if privacy concerns are not addressed. Almost half the market! Consumers are quickly becoming educated as to technologies that have the potential to violate their privacy and the speed in which personal information can be transferred, matched and used. Additionally, on-line and off-line mergers of database and marketing companies raises additional concerns. Not only will companies have access to on-line behavioral information on users, but with the addition of personal information such as name, they can cross reference off-line database information quickly forming a very in-depth profile on the user, with or without the users consent and knowledge. (S.S., Cupertino, California, USA)

Time, attention, trust and convenience are important issues that are not currently addressed adequately. This is not intentional but instead due to the fledgling nature of this business and the new careers created by it. The mechanism to install these qualities requires the talents of business and marketing professionals. In the commerce world, the procedure is clear and in the control of these experts from conception to application. In the new world of e-commerce, a gap is created by the technical nature of the finished presentation to the consumer. At this point, too much responsibility and control is in the hands of someone with technical and artistic talent but lacking in other areas. The true e-commerce professional must evolve from a "techie" into someone who is proficient in business, marketing and the technical aspects of Web design.

Consumers are far more aware of the threat to their privacy than they are of security issues. Anyone with an e-mail address knows what "spam" is. I personally feel less secure in giving my e-mail address than my credit card number. When asked for credit card information, the consumer is assured by being told by their browser and the online merchant of the secure steps that have been taken. The pages that ask for an e-mail address rarely instill same feeling. (J.M., Santa Barbara, California, USA)

Non-monetary forms of currency are very important, even essential! Only a few companies on the Internet are focusing on these factors as most website designers may either be technical designers or advertisers. Technical designers, who may have been hired to develop web sites, may be motivated by showing their skills in using sophisticated web development techniques instead of addressing the consumers needs and web usage. On the other hand, some advertisers may not be tech savvy. Marketing and business development management should know what business needs their websites are addressing. (V.M., Milpitas, California, USA)

Non-monetary importance of time, attention and trust is a strong differentiator. I bought books recently on price and received marked differences in these 3 factors from 3 different on-line sources. Since I'm a convenience shopper, price won't be the deciding factor on where I'll buy books in the future. I may give the lowest price source one try, but if they do poorly on the other factors, they don't get a second chance.

For the casual web user, I think security and privacy are two sides of the same coin. They represent the trust that is building between buyer and seller. The lack of either will stop a buyer from completing his/her transaction. I don't think the average user would differentiate security from privacy very much---both represent the trustworthy way the seller is handling personal data. (S.S., Santa Clara, California, USA)

I find that very few companies focus on non-monetary values such as: trying to save consumers time, finding productive ways of keeping their attention, or offering a trustworthy and convenient environment. They think that just offering their product on-line is sufficient enough to qualify for these three principles. They must understand that they have to adapt their traditional selling techniques to the ever-rising expectations of the Internet consumer.

Regarding Security/Privacy, most consumers do not really differentiate between the two. They expect a website to offer both. But I believe that the level of information they are willing to provide, or the trust that they have in a security system depends on the affiliation the consumer has with that web site. For example, if a marketing association asks for certain information from their members, that may seem inappropriate on another site, those consumers will more likely answer the association's questions because they trust and understand the reasons for this information. (H.P., Menlo Park, California, USA)

I think that non-monetary forms vs. monetary forms of value are important to consumers according to the type of Consumer. For example: an average 28 year old hard working business man values time, trust and convenience more than currency, he is in fact prepared to make a trade off between monetary value and these other types. A 65 year old retired woman values trust, attention and monetary currency, she would prefer more attention (has the time for it!) and makes a trade off between convenience and time for monetary value since it is more relevant to her.

I think that e-business are trying to integrate some of these values into their value propositions, most particularly convenience and time. Trust is another point that e-businesses emphasize, but this is a reaction to the current customers tendency to have a lack of trust in e-commerce. Finally, attention is integrated into many of the e-business value propositions through their 1-1 marketing ploys i.e. mail subscription to specific issues, and in virtual communities where the members are pampered by on-line community builders (the members who stimulate discussion, and offer answers if need be).

Security is of a higher concern than privacy for the moment. However privacy may well become the main issue as security improves and people become more informed on security levels. I think that most people differentiate between security and privacy. (D.B., Paris, FRANCE)

Non-monetary forms of currency are important, but at differing levels to different customers. I believe all companies with a long-term view of e-commerce have to be addressing the propositions of time, attention, trust and convenience. Without them, there will be no long term for them and their business paradigms.

Our experience is that customers are more concerned about security than privacy issues. Many of our customers have typically come from a direct mail experience, and there is more comfort with how we will use their information. Likewise, they know that if they do not want their information to be used externally, we will immediately accommodate their wishes.

With the direct mail environment, some customers like to be able to interface with a phone representative as they did when shopping from the catalog. A portion of these calls are a direct result to their concerns about security. It boils down to a comfort level, and we're finding our customers currently have a lower comfort level with security. (M.S. Burnsville, Minnesota, USA)

Consumers are being seduced by the attention and convenience of e-commerce solutions because the service levels of store purchased goods has deteriorated dramatically. For example, the Amazon e-mail prompts of new books that match the buying profile of the purchaser or the easy one-click shopping basket that many e-commerce business' use. Smart companies are building these qualities in. Trust is assumed until broken, for example, the eBay lack of reliability of service or their increase of prices.

I think the privacy versus security issue is becoming a mute and indistinguishable point. After all people give out their credit card numbers on the phone to complete strangers where much less security protocol exist. (T.P., Silicon Valley, California, USA)

Many people that would trade on the net are not trading because they cut short a page that takes to long to load with their STOP button. When they reach a page that has too much material and is not clean and clear as to what is offered they click the BACK button and another sale is lost. Convenience is a factor of fast and easy. Much more attention needs to be paid to area. A few companies, especially the large corporations that have dedicated people for web development and maintenance appear to be doing a much better job than the small entrepreneurial type e-commerce businesses.

Once we establish a perception that security is real and reasonably tamper proof and possibly provide some form of insurance coverage for the potential customer I believe that both security and privacy will be issues of the few and not of the majority. (L.J., Brossard, Quebec, CANADA)

About 60% of my purchase decision is based on non-monetary forms of currency. Regarding security and privacy, I feel that consumers are more concerned about security . In terms of privacy, they're most concerned in terms of personal finance, medical history, but not as concerned about hobbies etc. (DPC, Durham, North Carolina, USA)

A great deal of customers place a strong emphasis on retention or "customer stickiness". They achieve it by building trust (does not happen overnight), spending time with the customer (not always physical) paying attention to his/her needs, and making it convenient for the customer to do business and continue to do business with the company. This may involve integrating and sharing information between the companies and this can only happen if they trust one another.

To the extent that these companies are placing focus on to these value propositions? Companies are starting to realize that they can't expect to see a tangible or measurable ROI when it comes to non-monetary forms of customer interaction. They are expecting to sell more often to those customers that have spent time building trust and paying attention to the customer.

Most consumers do not make a distinction between security and privacy. Consumers would like to think that every electronic transaction is protected and that as a result of making a transaction with a company they are not going to have their profile of information sold to marketing companies. (D.W., Dallas, Texas, USA)

To me, trust is very important. When I can't deal face-to-face with someone and they break trust, I immediately turn away from that company... Security and privacy are important to me. I only give out my credit card over a SSL. If I think my information will be sold or used to spam me, it will not provide it. I always look for a policy statement regarding these two issues on a website. (KJO, San Diego, California, USA)

For the average user, I believe it depends on where they are on the adoption curve. Early on, a person is most likely concerned about transaction security. Then later they become more sensitive to the privacy of their information. I believe, initially, people are not aware, and therefore unconcerned about the amount of personal information that is being gathered by websites. Even as they overcome the hurdle of transactional security, it is only the various media voices that help call attention to the privacy issue.

E-Commerce sites that place more attention on non-monetary values will place more value on their customer's private information, and hopefully not abuse this information. As a consumer, I find it a high value if a company pays more attention to my needs and desires. I spend less time finding what I need and am satisfied that I am an important part of their business. (C.S., San Jose, CA, USA)

I'm not sure how important non-monetary issues are at this time. I do think that, baring some sort of economic catastrophe, non-monetary issues will become more and more important over time. Among my friends and acquaintances there is a growing realization that it is easier for us to make money than it is to find the time to do the things we want to do. I think that, for companies, the major problem will be that consumers always want both lower prices and more attention, convenience, trust, etc.

I think that the majority of consumers do not know the difference between privacy and security. Regarding the concern on privacy, it depends upon the level of sophistication of the consumer. People who are new to the net or know very little about how the net actually works are generally unconcerned with privacy issues. As people learn more about how the net works they become more concerned with privacy and security issues. Of course, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". I feel that some privacy issues are blown out of proportion relative to their actual impact (the Pentium III ID for instance). (G.P., Santa Cruz, California, USA)

Non monetary items are almost as important as price - if its something I want! However, I'm not sure if I know the distinction between the security and privacy. I am more concerned with getting too many unsolicited offers for things I don't want. I welcome an offer from something that's relevant to me! (L.H.B., Toronto, Ontario, CANADA)


  • Time - If a product is available, that is where I shop. I tend to need things NOW!
  • Attention - I have not found a site that offers any form of attention, except for maybe an acknowledgement of my request, which I see as mandatory, not attention is very positive.
  • Trust - It is difficult to imbue trust when there is no face-to-face contact. Certificates help - but only so much.
  • Convenience - See time.

I believe most users of the Web have accepted the level of security available. A greater issue is privacy, and I do not believe that the Web has provided a sense of privacy for the greater majority of users. Most users believe that when they give out information to a requesting site, that information should not go any further. I believe that there must be an affirmative action given by the user before the site can use personal information for other purposes. (M.P., San Jose, California, USA)

The current composition of 'consumers' includes people who buy electronically at 3 levels:

  1. Haven't tried it yet
  2. Have tried it occasionally
  3. Embrace it to the full extent available

While the importance to consumers of time, attention, trust and convenience varies with their individual situation, one can presume that firms who address these most thoroughly will encourage migration towards the 'fully-embracing' group. Leaders in the e-commerce field are addressing all of the factors, but many traditional organizations that are trying to become "Net companies" do not do a good job.

Security concerns are generally limited to traditional currency protection, while privacy concerns are more far-reaching. For myself, privacy is paramount for all my electronic activities. Consumers have very large concerns with privacy issues. They are concerned with others:

  1. knowing what they are doing, and
  2. having access to their personal data/information.

The first is analogous to being stalked or spied upon, and the second is analogous to being burgled. In the non-electronic world, people are protected to some extent by the legal and penal system, but does this exist on-line? My primary concern in each of these cases is "how do I know it's happening to me?" Once I'm aware, my question becomes "how do I stop this from happening?". From a societal point of view, in both cases we may want to answer the questions "how do we make our neighborhoods safer?" and "how do we punish offenders?" (SS, Toronto, Canada)

Companies are giving some attention to the non-monetary forms of currency, but they are not perfect. (B.H., Redwood City, California, USA)

Consumers pay very little attention to non-monetary forms of currency. They don't differentiate between security and privacy and they have a very large concern about privacy that their lives will be open to others. (S.V., Sunnyvale, California, USA)

People tend to think that security and privacy are the same. I think however that they are actually concerned about privacy and confidentiality issues. They are worried that by providing information such as their name and other information, it won't be kept private, and they'll end up on a mailing list.

Security should be a big concern particularly for businesses. It is vital to protect your LAN from outside intrusion. In terms of data transmission, critical data should never be sent across the wire if the connection is not secure.

The concern with privacy issues is huge. People don't want to give out data about their spending habits and their surfing habits. (R.G., Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA)

I feel more companies focus on time and convenience since they directly result in increased revenues (most of the time). They tend to compromise on attention. I think most people use the terms security and privacy synonymously in the Internet world. And, consumers are very concerned about this, since the e-commerce boom. But, they feel reassured when they see the 'locks' on their browser. Most people I have talked to have expressed concern that their name and identity would be used in the wrong context and without their authorization. (S.S., Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA)

I would say that privacy is security - they are one and the same to anyone concerned about either. (J.O., Michigan, USA)

Non-monetary forms of currency are paramount. A company may get a customers money once, but it won't get their money again if the customer doesn't feel that the company is addressing their needs. Some companies are trying, eg EBay, Amazon, but most are not and they will not survive. Generally, consumers tend to put security and privacy together. If probed the consumer will say that security is more important. By privacy, the consumer does not want to expose themselves to unsolicited and unwanted email advertising, or have their time wasted dealing with it. This is a large but not huge. It may, however, become huge as the consumer becomes deluged with junk email. (M.D., Cupertino, Californian, USA)

Non-monetary forms of value - time, good customer service, knowledgeable sales associates, particularly for high-dollar purchases - cars, furniture, bicycles, houses - are very important. I think most companies aren't any more focused on providing job training than they have ever been.

On-line customers are concerned that someone unauthorized will be able to retrieve and use their credit card # if they buy over the Internet. I do not think the average online consumer knows the difference between privacy & security. (P.F., Mountain View, California, USA)

From the very first day of opening our e-business we established a "loving and caring" relationship with all of our potential customers. The image of "we care" about your equipment was our key branding message from the very beginning...and I think that it was because of our constant message that trust was built.

Attention to customers was very important to us and our free time diminished rapidly as we are both full time corporate employees. However, we made sure no customer fell through the cracks. Our goal was 100% attention. The reality is that in 19 months of doing business, we probably lost 6 orders and customers because they got lost in the ton of emails we would receive. The good part of this is the processes put in place to prevent this in the future. (V.S., Silicon Valley, California, USA)

Non-monetary forms of currency are very important. In both traditional and on-line purchasing, the customer wants the most for their money. Today there are many options for purchasing - so a consumer is not limited to one supplier. Therefore, suppliers must differentiate themselves through superior customer service, this includes time, attention, trust and convenience. Companies that don't focus on this differentiator are impeding their sales efforts. (J.S., Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

Consumers are more concerned about security than with privacy. I don't think the privacy really reflects. (A.S., Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Non-monetary forms of currency are very important to consumers. Companies are not yet as focused on this area as they should be. Consumers probably care more about privacy issues, since security issues are not widely understood by the user of a system. They depend on the company to provide adequate coverage. But privacy is an age-old issue and much more easily recognized. (AEC, Silicon Valley, California, USA)

Copyright © 1999-2009 by ECnow.com, Inc., All rights reserved
ECnow.com (
21265 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 205
Cupertino, CA 95014


Back to the main ECMgt.com Site: (http://ECMgt.com)
Back to this issue: (


Home | Express Your View | eZine Signup | About ECMgt.com
eCommerce Resources | eCommerce Examples | Internet Marketing Tactics
ECMgt.com is produced by ECnow.com (http://ecnow.com)
408-257-3000 (Phone)
E-mail: General (VMS3.Executive.Producer@ecnow.com), Webmaster (webmaster@ecnow.com)
Copyright © 1999-2009 by ECnow.com, Inc., All rights reserved