Why Trust is a Must for Virtual Assistants

by Casey Bullock 0

Technology is now embedded in just about every aspect of our lives. From home to work – and nearly everywhere in between – connected devices are delivering a level of convenience consumers are quickly growing accustomed to. In fact, more than one-third of U.S. consumers would consider using a virtual assistant to perform a simple task, according to Worldpay’s Connected Consumer research. And 49 percent of global respondents agree the convenience provided by smart devices is adding to their quality of life.

But there are still roadblocks preventing consumers from fully embracing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Virtual assistants, in particular, have struggled to reach their full potential. Trust – or lack thereof – remains a big reason why. Seventy-five percent of global consumers polled worry about a connected device being hacked. While virtual assistant technology remains popular, both manufacturers and service providers must address consumer security concerns to ensure connected device usage grows.

 Little trust, big impact

Convenience may be enough to pique consumer interest, but virtual assistant adoption largely hinges on one crucial factor – trust. Despite the fact that more than half of all consumers would welcome a virtual assistant shopping on their behalf, only 37 percent would allow it to access their payment information.  At the heart of such concerns is data security. Consumers want to keep personal information under wraps, though they’re not always sure connected devices can help get the job done. Seventy-two percent of global consumers fear smart device manufacturers might share their personal data, while 55 percent would not want a connected device to collect data about them in their own home.

Even those willing to share payment information still prefer to retain some degree of control. Half of all shoppers want fixed limits on how much devices can spend, and three in five wish to approve each purchase before it’s submitted. Given just how often cybersecurity attacks occur, it’s no surprise consumers are well aware of how crucial connected device security is.

A report from KPMG revealed nearly a third of consumers have already limited their use of connected devices due to security concerns. Meanwhile, 61 percent would use more IoT devices if they had greater confidence in device security. Overcoming consumer concerns requires more than just safeguarding transactions but also clearly communicating data policies and delivering on payment experiences with simplified approval methods.

 The power of transparency

Nearly 80 percent of consumers realize any smart device connected to their in-home WiFi has the potential to be targeted by hackers. And nine out of 10 consumers believe it’s important to have security built into connected devices. For those powering payments via IoT technologies, the choice is clear – improve security or further delay adoption.

Limiting access to payment information can certainly ease security concerns, but convenience often takes a hit. After all, virtual assistants work best behind the scenes. They take on the burden of planning trips and picking up groceries so consumers don’t have to.

Instead of offering options that ultimately diminish the impact of virtual assistants, those in the payments industry should focus on the root of the problem – transparency. It’s natural for consumers to feel uneasy over data collection, especially when it involves their finances. Clearly explaining what data is used for, where it’s stored and how it’s protected can increase the chances of consumers trusting virtual assistants more when it comes to payments.

As technology capabilities evolve, so will consumer sentiment. Taking the time to understand consumer concerns can help enhance the experience virtual assistants deliver. Better yet, gauging consumer feelings about data collection might make it easier to not only identify but also cater to consumer preferences.

In today’s increasingly digital world, the more convenient a connected device, the better. But payments processors must establish a foundation of trust first. Without it, adoption rates may take a dip. From increased transparency surrounding the data collection process to greater payment control for consumers, establishing trust from the start will help drive virtual assistant adoption.

 Casey Bullock – General Manager – North America, Global eCom, Worldpay

Casey Bullock is General Manager – North America for Worldpay. Current responsibilities include managing all commercial personnel working directly with Worldpay’s clients in the North America region.  Prior to Worldpay, Mr. Bullock was VP, GM Fraud Solution for Chase Paymentech focused on the creation and delivery of enterprise-class fraud prevention capabilities into the ecommerce marketplace.  Mr. Bullock spent 10 years serving in senior sales and sales management positions with CyberSource Corporation focused on providing enterprise-class payment and fraud management solutions to many of the industry’s most recognized brands.  He has over 20 years of combined technology sales and sales management experience including positions at Harmonic, Inc. and Silicon Valley Communications.