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February 22, 2016

Syniverse Research Reveals Mobile Privacy Predicament: Consumer Trust Is Diminishing with Brands and Mobile Operators

Multinational survey of 8,000 consumers reveals that erosion in trust impacts the potential for mobile services personalization

BARCELONA, Spain – Feb. 22, 2016 – Consumer concern about the use of private personal data is putting emerging mobile business models and brand engagement strategies at risk. More than 50 percent of people trust mobile operators and brands less today than they did three years ago, with 70 percent of consumers now not trusting them to safeguard their private data. These insights are from a new survey commissioned by Syniverse that examines consumer attitudes about mobile privacy across eight countries.

“Using big-data elements – like demographics, location and interaction history – to personalize services and target promotions is critical to emerging mobile business models and sophisticated brand engagement strategies,” said Mary Clark, Chief Marketing Officer, Syniverse. “Success assumes consumers will willingly share personal data in return for more personalized services and more relevant offers along their mobile journey. This assumption is wrong: Consumers are far from ‘willing.’ The research contains many rich and fascinating data points from which much can be concluded. What is clear above all else is that brands and mobile operators face a ‘privacy predicament’ that must be overcome for mobile to continue to flourish.”

Consumer concerns quantified

The primary research, conducted in January 2016, sought to understand attitudes toward mobile privacy among more than 8,000 people across eight countries. Some of the findings are alarming for both brands and mobile operators, as today 75 percent of consumers surveyed say they don’t trust brands to take care of their data, and 71 percent of respondents say they don’t trust mobile operators to take care of their data.

The research highlighted several key objections to sharing personal data with brands and mobile operators that undermine consumer trust:

  • Security: 25 percent of consumers surveyed don’t believe their personal data will be kept private or secure
  • Transparency: 21 percent of consumers surveyed worry about how their data may be used in the future
  • Control: 19 percent of consumers surveyed are concerned that their data will be sold to third parties.

Privacy is critical for consumers with an overwhelming majority (89 to 94 percent) admitting to having at least some concern when sharing data with brands in the retail, financial services, travel and hospitality vertical markets as well as with mobile operators. And 40 percent of consumers will reluctantly share basic personal data (age, gender and name) in order to improve the experience from their brands and mobile operators. However, fewer than 20 percent of consumers are willing to share more rich “contextual” data, such as location, browsing history and shopping habits.

“Personalization depends on people’s willingness to share personal and contextual information to enhance their mobile journey, and that’s largely missing at the moment,” Clark said. “Consumers clearly do not feel that their mobile experiences have been significantly improved to date by the sharing of personal data. However, the stakes are too high to give up on personalization, with too many business models and engagement strategies at risk.”

Brands and mobile operators have the responsibility, opportunity and power to address this situation – because consumers hold them responsible for the delivery of security, transparency and control alongside personalization:

  • 55 percent of consumers surveyed hold brands directly responsible for safeguarding their data
  • 30 percent of consumers surveyed hold mobile operators responsible for safeguarding their data
  • Only 15 percent of consumers surveyed believe responsibility for safeguarding their private data lies with a regulatory body.

For brands and mobile operators, this consumer-allocated responsibility is the de facto “mobile privacy pact” between themselves and consumers.

“The impact of brands having access to contextual data has eroded consumer trust and experience to date,” Clark added. “Brands and operators must now achieve a balance of driving both value and trust along the mobile journey.”

Crucially, there is a growing expectation among consumers that brands should be able to improve personalized services and offers as a result of collecting personal data (38% agreed with this).

“All players in the mobile value chain must rethink their approaches to harvesting, managing and using personal data. They must take a more transparent approach to personalization that empowers control and guarantees data security and privacy. It is on this foundation that a new ‘mobile privacy pact’ will be established to ensure business models and engagement strategies of the future are fully realized,” Clark concluded.

The full Syniverse report, ‘The Mobile Privacy Predicament’ can be downloaded by clicking here.

Solving technical challenges within the mobile ecosystem for more than 25 years, Syniverse is helping the world’s largest brands and operators take a more transparent approach in delivering personalized services directly to their customers’ mobile devices. Syniverse has a number of solutions that help brands and operators provide personalized services through secure infrastructure and solutions that put consumers in control of their mobile experiences. Syniverse recently announced that its enabling a number of operators to put users in control of data usage; helping Western Union to increase global participation its loyalty program; Bigo to validate subscribers; and  Amazon China to enhance the e-commerce experience.

Research methodology

Research was carried out by On Device Research in January 2016 in eight countries – U.K., USA, Brazil, India, China, South Korea, Germany and France. In each country, 1,000 consumers responded to the survey who were nationally representative of gender balance and who were among the age groups 18-24, 25-34, and 35-44. 

About Syniverse

Syniverse is the leading global transaction processor that connects more than 1,500 mobile service providers, enterprises, ISPs and OTTs in nearly 200 countries and territories, enabling seamless mobile communications across disparate and rapidly evolving networks, devices and applications. We deliver innovative cloud-based solutions that facilitate superior end-user experiences through always-on services and real-time engagement. For more than 25 years, Syniverse has been simplifying complexity to deliver the promise of mobility – a simple, interoperable experience, anytime, anywhere. For more information, visit, follow Syniverse on Twitter or connect with Syniverse on Facebook.

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For more information:

Bobby Eagle

Syniverse Public Relations

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