SINGAPORE (Nov 13): Singapore is among the lowest-ranking when it comes to trusting digital services offered in its country, coming in only above Indonesia and on-par with Thailand.

This is according to the new Digital Trust Index, part of the Fraud Management Insights 2017 report authored by Experian and IDC.

The report covers 10 markets across Asia Pacific (APAC), namely: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

It surveyed 3,200 consumers and over 80 services providers, each with revenues of at least US$10 million ($13.6 million).

The index is based on four key variables comprising levels of digital adoption, industry preferences and fraud rates, and the effectiveness of companies’ fraud management capabilities. A higher score indicates that consumers are satisfied with their digital transaction experience, while a lower score indicates a failure in trust.

Dev Dhiman, Managing Director, Southeast Asia and Emerging Markets, Experian Asia Pacific, believes Singapore’s relatively low index score of 2.3 upon 10 is reflective of a divide between how businesses think they manage fraudulent digital transactions – and the actual customer experience when fraud does occur.  

The city state’s index score comes in below the region’s 3.2 average, with Telcos holding the lowest score of 2.1 and Financial Services having the highest at 4.9.

Among the 10 countries, New Zealand ranks the highest with a Digital Trust Index score of 4.2, while Indonesia registers at the other end of the spectrum at 1.8.

It was also found that in Singapore, the government remains residents’ most trust entity, particularly with regards to personal data protection, as over 75% of Singaporeans surveyed have indicated trust in government agencies compared to the APAC average of 51.7%.

Based on Experian’s observations, countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, which are “expected to have a high trust score due to their advanced fraud management systems”, lag due to a low tolerance for fraud and perceptions that companies are not managing the post-fraud experience well.

This low tolerance to fraud is mirrored in many advanced economies while there is a greater acceptance of it in countries where fraud incidents are the most prevalent such as in Indonesia and Vietnam, says the information services company in a press release on Monday.

It also notes that the retail industry, particularly e-commerce, tends to do better in this aspect due to the relevant companies’ tendencies to focus on the post-fraud customer experience as well as their ability to quickly address issues arising from fraud.

Dhiman has identified three key gaps that he believes are crucial for service providers to address to strengthen trust between them and their customers.

One such gap is the rising number of digital transactions, as Dhiman believes companies and enterprises must utilise automation to combat an expected increase in fraud that comes with the surging volume of digital transactions. For businesses, this also means leveraging smart investments in infrastructure such as tools to manage the expanding volumes.

Another is the race for convenience as digitisation accelerates across the region, which places emphasis on striking the balance between keeping customers safe from fraud, while minimising the friction of online transactions.

“There is a trade-off between fraud management and enabling a seamless customer experience, particularly as organisations complete to provide better and faster digital offerings and solutions. Companies who can balance this well will emerge as winners of their categories in time to come,” says Dhiman.

Lastly, the managing director highlights the constant evolution of fraud, which necessitates the breaking down of data silos within organisations while also better utilising analytics. This will enable service providers to better understand customer verification accuracy and speed, and thus lead to improved fraud detection and enhanced customer trust, according to Experian.

“Digitalisation is accelerating and changing the ways we work, live and play. Trust is an essential currency for this new digital world and as Singapore and the region continues to digitise, it is imperative that organisations ensure trust in their digital offerings are high,” says Dhiman.

“Ultimately, while digitalisation is set to usher us into a new era of convenience, more must be done to build greater customer trust in the digital world – lest all our efforts come to nought,”adds Sandra Ng, Group Vice President, Practice Group, IDC Asia/Pacific.