Consumers Find Digital Security Frustrating, but Trust in Banks Remains High

The average U.S. consumer has 34 different online accounts. From email to social media to bank accounts and shopping, each account requires users to complete some type of security step before accessing its services. And it seems consumers are starting to get fed up.

A recent FICO survey found that, despite the almost-constant news of further data breaches and card compromises, millions of Americans find web and phone security processes overly complicated. In fact, 80 percent of respondents stated they “don’t see the need for … unnecessary procedures.” Almost three-quarters are frustrated by captcha codes, and nearly half would rather not have to deal with two-step verification.

Passwords are becoming exceedingly distasteful to consumers. Perhaps this is because correctly using passwords for all of their roughly 34 accounts — different passwords for all accounts; a mixture of numbers, symbols, letters and capitalization; changing passwords for each account regularly — would require almost constant maintenance. Of course, 64 percent of those surveyed don’t practice good password hygiene, but even for those who do, 78 percent reported they still have trouble managing multiple passwords for multiple accounts.

Although consumers do find “endless security questions” annoying (47 percent), banks have yet to earn real ire from their customer base. This is interesting because over half of those surveyed have been victims of banking fraud, but four out of five respondents “trust their bank to protect their account from criminal activity.” Almost three-quarters of consumers are certain their banks have processes in place to verify account holders and prevent fraud.

“There’s a real discrepancy here — consumers are glad their bank is protecting them, but they’re frustrated that the protection is making it harder for them to open accounts and make purchases,” says T.J. Horan, who oversees fraud solutions at FICO. “When it comes to digital transformation, a smooth customer experience is going to be vital. The winners will be the firms that can balance this against the need to stop fraud.”

The number of respondents who are frustrated by account opening processes is small, less than a quarter in most instances, but it’s substantial enough that banks should pay attention. Twenty-two percent of consumers reported they would abandon opening an account altogether or seek a different financial institution if security measures were too onerous. Just over a quarter (26 percent) think account creation should be immediate, and 20 percent don’t believe the process should take more than an hour.

It appears to boil down to this: Consumers want to be protected in the digital realm, but they don’t want to have to work too hard to do it themselves, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by companies doing it for them. Post 9/11, everyone was glad to take their shoes off at the airport if it meant they could feel safer — now, almost half of consumers (46 percent) think airport security is a hassle. Banks are going to have to find a way to walk a fine line between security and customer satisfaction.

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