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Lack of trust is the main barrier to greater use of mobile apps and services, according to [download page] a Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) and ForgeRock survey of more than 6,500 smartphone users across 10 countries. In fact, almost half of the respondents said that lack of trust prevents them from buying, downloading or using apps on their phone.

The results come on the heels of a separate report finding that just half of Americans trust the internet as a whole.

What Makes An App Trustworthy?

It stands to reason then, that it’s crucial for apps to earn people’s trust. In looking at what makes an app trustworthy, the MEF report indicates that the top factors are:

  • A clear and simple privacy statement (33%);
  • Brand recognition (32%);
  • Positive media coverage/reviews (29%); and
  • Recommendation from friends or family (27%).

In other words, privacy matters, as does social proof. These also can lead to lost trust, as negative reviews, lack of privacy policy and negative feedback and news stories were cited by more than one-third as trust barriers. Notably, though, a bad user experience is the biggest way to lose a smartphone user’s trust.

Data Control and Transparency Are the Trust Levers

In an related question, the study analyzed the factors that would help people have more trust in how an app or service uses their data.

The top responses all related to transparency of data use and control over that use:

  • Can request that all information is deleted (42%);
  • Can withdraw permission to use the data (40%);
  • Clear what information is collected and what is done with it (37%);
  • Can decide whether it is shared with third parties (38%); and
  • Can choose which types of information are being collected (37%).

Tellingly, a majority (53%) feel that they are not in control of the way their personal data is used by third parties.

Smartphone Users Trust Themselves First

Given that they want control over their data, it’s probably not too surprising that smartphone users trust themselves to manage their data more than any single institutions.

Nonetheless, far and away the most trusted organizations are banks and credit card companies (46%) along with doctors or hospitals (45%). That’s consistent with other research, which likewise has found people to be more comfortable trusting financial institutions with their data than other types of organizations.

About the Data: The study was commissioned by global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum and was carried out by On Device Research in Q2 2017. The survey was fielded among 6,500 smartphone users in 10 countries: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA.

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