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Online shoppers torn between security and convenience

Recurring payments provider GoCardless has today released research into consumer attitudes around security and convenience when buying online.

The findings reveal that UK consumers are torn between valuing convenience and security when making purchases online – but they value “speed and ease of payment” more than their European counterparts.

In a survey of 4000 online shoppers in the UK, France, Germany and Spain, nearly half of UK consumers (43%) said that “speed and ease of payment” was the most important factor when paying for something online, compared to less than a fifth in Spain (17%) and one third in France (32%) and Germany (33%).

Yet shoppers in all markets placed high value on a secure checkout process: French shoppers showed the greatest preference for security (62%), followed closely byGerman (61%), Spanish (58%) and UK (55%).

The study, ‘Security vs convenience in the payment experience’, asked consumers about their attitudes and behaviours to online shopping and also found that:

  •  44% of UK shoppers had abandoned an online order because of complex or lengthy security, while 48% had done so in Germany, 40% in Spain and 33% in France.
  • Nearly a third of UK shoppers (27%) would abandon a purchase and look elsewhere if a retailer offered a secure but lengthy and inconvenient buying experience.

The research is published ahead of the introduction of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA); a new, European-wide, two-stage verification process coming into force from September 2019 as part of PSD2.

As a result, shoppers will have to provide two sets of security information – that could be a password or PIN, biometric information, or device information like a mobile number – to authenticate an online purchase.

Considering the potential impact of SCA on UK consumers: nearly half (45%) of people would be frustrated with a favourite brand that introduced new security processes during online checkout and a fifth (23%) would shop less with a favourite brand or retailer if it introduced new security measures. Almost two thirds (62%) would pay for an online subscription with a low risk payment method like direct debit as a way to avoid complex security at the online check-out.

Duncan Barrigan, VP Product at GoCardless, said: “In the eyes of UK consumers, convenience is virtually neck and neck with security in terms of importance when shopping online. Protecting shoppers from fraud when they pay online is crucial, and new regulation which achieves this should be welcomed.

“The flipside is that these measures, if implemented badly, could significantly disrupt consumers and lead to a significant conversion drop off for businesses. Online retailers must work with their payment providers to find the right balance between security and convenience at checkout – not waking up to this new reality could seriously harm e-commerce. Major retailers like Amazon are already sounding the alarm.”

Consumers are reluctant to share personal data for security authentication

The study also found that a significant number of people were uncomfortable giving out personal data to help protect them from fraud:

  • 31% of consumers were unconformable giving out biometrics like a fingerprint
  • 22% were reluctant to give a mobile number
  • 24% were still unconformable giving out passwords or memorable words.
  • Interestingly, the need to give away complex security information makes as many people feel suspicious (40%) as safe (40%).