Digital security: What does it mean to be free?

Last updated: 19 March 2014

Ask any retailer or service provider what their key ingredients are to growing a business and they’ll no doubt tell you that improving the customer experience is one of them. The rapid change in the way people interact with brands thanks to smartphones, social networks and beyond – in business as well as in the consumer markets – is making the transformation of customer experience an urgent priority. Some examples of this already happening can be seen with Facebook commerce, with new smartphones and the services they’ve inspired like mobile payments. Even the way we manage our money is changing as we embrace online and mobile banking.

These developments are exciting in that they give the customer complete choice in how they engage with brands. However, as more personal data is shared companies must also protect customers from the increased risk of identity theft, which struck high profile brands with a vengeance in 2011. The US Federal Trade Commission releases a list each year of the top consumer complaints received by the agency and identity theft has ranked No.1 for the past 11 years in a row. Despite this fear, consumers are still adopting these digital services at considerable pace. Whether banking online, accessing work information from personal mobile and tablet devices, or sharing personal information on social networks, the convenience that digital services offer is so great that consumers continue to embrace it in spite of their concerns.

However, this does not mean that the risk of identity theft can be set aside. There have been many incidents of large-scale global fraud affecting millions and small-scale fraud affecting the consumer on a personal level. No matter how many tiers of security exist, if there’s money to be had, cyber criminals will invest to catch up. So, what’s the solution? Our efforts must be focused on two fundamental things: consumer awareness to avoid the common pitfalls, and persistently evolving security.

We’re working to make a world in which end-users don’t have to think about security concerns when they interact digitally. That’s why we created in 2009, a website which answers consumer questions and concerns about digital security and interacts with them. In fact, we have also formed an organization – Consumer Insights – to ensure we listen to our clients’ and their customers’ concerns and work to develop technologies that can help allay some of the concerns without restricting their experience and the convenience that the digital world offers us.

Our technologies give the consumer the security to be free. That concept, or a world in which you feel empowered to interact digitally, is the idea behind the genesis of our tagline. What does it mean to have the security to be free? Well, as a business, it means helping enable you to deliver services in the way your customers want. As a consumer, it means empowering you to use digital services in a way that suits you, without putting your identity at risk.

As CMO of Gemalto I keep up with these trends because I know our customers do and we strive to anticipate the next trend in brand interaction. So, over to you: what do you think will be the next big thing in customer interaction…? Where should we be developing technology that helps you feel ‘free’ to use digital services online?