What We Learned About American Consumers, Identity, and Trust

For the second year in a row, IDology surveyed a representative sample of online American consumers to learn how they perceive identity and security, as well as learn about their interactions with businesses online over the past 12 months. These were the key findings from the data:

 Consumer Identities are Increasingly Digital

How Americans think about and prioritize their identity has shifted dramatically; they consider digital attributes such as their phone number and email address to be a greater part of their identity than where they work or even family information. This year, the importance of mobile numbers increased 21% over last year (from 42% to 51%), and email addresses increased 9% (from 43% to 47%). The importance placed on specific attributes is cross-generational; from millennials to baby boomers, the importance and priority of these attributes was consistent across age brackets. Americans’ sense of identity being increasingly connected to digital attributes is due in part because of how these attributes are used during interactions with businesses. For example, many organizations send account notifications and one-time passcodes directly to consumers’ mobile phones.

The Mobile (Enrollment) Future

For the first time, Americans opened more new accounts online with their mobile device (61%) than on a computer (56%) over the past 12 months. This was an overall increase of 49% in the use of mobile devices for signup (up from 41% last year). Additionally, 20% of those opened new accounts exclusively on their mobile devices. The one-click simplicity inherent with mobile devices has conditioned consumers for instant gratification, even during account enrollment. Regardless of the channel they used (either mobile device or computer), 37% of consumers abandoned opening a new account this year due to the effort or time it took to sign up. Businesses need to make changes if they want to exceed customer expectations and reduce abandonment.

Trust, and the Need to Remove Friction Barriers

The effort needed to complete an interaction or transaction, a.k.a. friction, is still one of the biggest barriers between customers and businesses. For example, the steps to verify an identity often create friction. However, despite consumers saying they hate friction, they want and value security. This dichotomy can be a challenge for businesses and requires implementing new approaches and technology. The digital identity verification “status quo” is no longer acceptable to consumers, who expect businesses to do more to protect their identities. More than two-thirds of Americans (71%) stated knowing a financial institution was using better, more advanced identity verification methods would positively affect their decision to use that institution.

What Does This Mean for Businesses?

The research shows that across industries, companies increasingly interact with digital, mobile-first, and mobile-only consumers who demand better security without added friction. Streamlining processes as much as possible, while introducing the right amount of friction at the right time, can help fulfill the need for identity verification without driving away customers. To learn more, download our Second Annual Consumer Digital Idntity Study today.

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