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The future of digital is “Trust Tech”

A brand without trust is a product
Advertising without trust is noise
Technology without trust is obsolete

Do you trust your bank? Trust is key to wellbeing, especially when it comes to money. Without trust there is stress, anxiety and sometimes even panic.

A new study that I’ve produced for SYZYGY confirms that people do not trust their banks (you can download the study below). Only 32% of UK consumers believe that banks can be trusted today, and 46% say their level of trust in banks has deteriorated over the past three years (only 7% say trustworthiness of banks has improved in this time). The figures are worse in Germany, where only 25% German consumers believe that banks can be trusted today, with 52% saying their level of trust in banks has deteriorated over the past three years (only 5% say trustworthiness has improved).

In the long-tail aftermath of the banking crisis, it’s hardly a scoop to find that people don’t trust their banks today. But what’s interesting about the SYZYGY study, is that it identifies what’s causing this distrust. It’s not that banks are seen as incompetent (people generally believe banks are competent at looking after their money on the whole), but that people see banks as uncaring.

Banks are like hotel telephones. You try not to use them because you know they’re going to screw you

UK consumer 2019

Perceptions of caring are key to trust. The psychology of trust is complex, but essentially trust comes down to two things. Competence and Caring. When we encounter a brand, company or a person, we size up their trustworthiness by asking ourselves (implicitly) two simple questions – can they help me? (competence) and do they want to help me? (caring). Together competence and caring make up the core drivers of trust, that is, the expectation that promises will be kept, and that our vulnerabilities will not be exploited.

Trust = Competence + Care

Right now, banks do fairly well on perceptions of competence. But they are rarely seen as caring. The claim in the study is that both fintech and heritage banks are barking up the wrong tree by focusing tech investments on demonstrating new and improved competences.

To restore trust, the banking industry needs to demonstrate genuine care by looking after the financial wellbeing of the customer. The study suggests that Apple’s new credit card “Apple Card” heralds a new era of “trust tech” in financial services, where services are designed to foster financial wellbeing by demonstrating genuine care for customers.

Trust Tech is technology designed to foster trust by demonstrating competent care for the wellbeing of the user

Built on simplicity, transparency and privacy, Apple Card is designed to work as a trustworthy financial coach, promoting the financial wellbeing of customers with a genuine customer-first value proposition. 

Everything about Apple Card appears to be single-mindedly focused on earning customer trust. From features designed to reduce interest payments to a no-fee promise, simple language, familiar interfaces and secure technology, Apple Card is an exercise in trust-building.

Although the SYZYGY study focuses on trust in financial services, the core insight from the study holds across industries and indeed society. Rather than focus on how competent we are, should we be focusing on caring for each other?

The future of digital is trust tech.

The SYZYGY Trust Tech studies can be downloaded here

Trust Tech Report 2019 UK

Trust Tech Report 2019 DE
Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.