22 April 2019
Given the growing complexity of cyber attacks, it is important for businesses handling personal data to safeguard against vulnerabilities. Photo: Reuters
Given the growing complexity of cyber attacks, it is important for businesses handling personal data to safeguard against vulnerabilities. Photo: Reuters

Balancing convenience and security key to customer retention

Balancing privacy concerns and convenience gets increasingly important as we become more app-centric.

Global numbers show that mobile application downloads have surpassed 175 billion, with Asia being the main growth driver at a whopping 115 billion downloads. Against this backdrop, organizations need to address these demands to gain a bigger slice of the profit pie.

Based on the findings from F5 Networks’ latest Curve of Convenience research in the Asia-Pacific, which polled over 400 respondents in Hong Kong, here are some of the key trends that are shaping app usage behavior in Hong Kong:

Hong Kongers are the least satisfied with security in APAC

Among Asia-Pacific countries, Hong Kong holds the lowest satisfaction rates for security. While this suggests their high expectations on security, this does not mean they will translate this into action. Only 25 percent of Hong Kong respondents say it is very unlikely that they will use an app once data security has been compromised, which is much lower than the APAC average (43 percent).

In addition, when they were asked about their top consideration with regard to apps, 27 percent – the largest in the region – said they are uncertain whether they value security or convenience more, demonstrating Hong Kong consumers’ low inclination to protect their digital hygiene.

Given the growing complexity of cyber attacks, it is important for businesses handling personal data to safeguard against these vulnerabilities. At the same time, there is also a need for greater transparency and accountability for the data available.

The European Union underscored the importance of this with its recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will penalize businesses that risk exposing their customers’ data. Financial costs aside, it can lead to serious reputational damage as well as the loss of trust among existing customers.

Regulations shape the app experience

Our research shows a positive correlation between app trust and highly regulated sectors such as banking and payment as well as utilities and government services,  which are the top two trusted app categories in Hong Kong, similar to APAC overall.

Regulation plays a significant role in shaping the rules for organizations, and thus consumers’ app experience. As Hong Kong is moving in to a new era of smart banking with the formulation of the Open API Framework by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), development of new products and services by third parties is set to shake up the banking and payment space.

It is crucial for banks to strategize to ensure that they are compliant in customer data protection when working with these parties.

Sharing is caring, but is it safe?

While services from the sharing economy have provided us with greater convenience and savings, the constant need to share data presents a new set of cybersecurity risks. In an app-centric region such as Hong Kong, it’s not uncommon to find users willingly giving up their personal data such as their credit card information and passwords to shave off precious minutes of waiting.

According to data from the Hong Kong Police Force, the number of cybercrime cases in Hong Kong increased from 653 incidents in 2005 to 5,939 incidents in 2016, which resulted in the loss of HK$2.3 billion last year. The default single-sign-on (SSO) has become commonplace that people don’t think twice before providing it. Users do not realize that convenience has opened up an entire ecosystem of vulnerable devices and data that are interconnected, a gold mine for cybercriminals.

Finding that sweet spot

With the right mindset comes the right steps to security. Our Curve of Convenience represents the journey users go through as they evolve in their digital sophistication and realize the importance of security in apps.

As apps continue to dominate, it is critical for businesses to understand where their customers stand on the Curve of Convenience to deliver the right user experience, or risk losing them. At the same time, this also presents an opportunity for businesses to win new customers if they can find the balance between security and convenience.

– Contact us at [email protected]


General Manager, Hong Kong and Macau, F5 Network

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