Security, Privacy & Other Non-monetary
Forms of Currency
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November 1, 1999 *2,600 subscribers*
Volume 1, Issue 10
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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)"
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Question of the Month
The topic for November
focuses on security, privacy and non-monetary forms of currently. It's a three-part
- 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?
large and what type of concern do you feel that consumers have with privacy issues?
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
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.
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,
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).
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.,
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
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.
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)
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,
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,
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
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)
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,
- 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,
The current composition of 'consumers' includes people who
buy electronically at 3 levels:
- Haven't tried it yet
tried it occasionally
- Embrace it to the full extent available
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
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:
- knowing what
they are doing, and
- having access to their personal data/information.
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)
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,
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)
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)
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