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The impact of digital trust on netizens in the global economy

The World Values Survey pointed to the fact that there is a concentration of high-income countries revealing the greatest degree of trust in people, and low-income countries having the lowest degree of trust in people, which suggests a possible link between trust and economic outcomes. The Digital Trust Index, a factor that measures the value of digital trust, quantifies the opportunity cost of a lack of digital trust and reveals that as small as a 5 percent increase in digital trust results in an average increase in GDP per capita by $3,000. This implies that we can notably improve the global economy with a slight increase in digital trust. Brands with the highest levels of Digital Trust will naturally become the preferred choice for netizens.

Today, everything is connected. We work remotely and speak to refrigerators, just as more of what we use connects to everything else. Our devices are the internet, and the internet is on our palms with mobile apps. Our automobiles are computers, while healthcare has gone virtual, and entertainment is streamed to where we are on the go. Said another way, the line between digital and real no longer exists. All the afore point to a dire need for trust today more than ever.

We can posit that trust is the digital economy’s foundation and makes efficient markets possible. With broken trust, few transactions would occur, just as mutual benefit is central to every transaction. Trust is the guarantee or likelihood that the consumer will receive the benefit promised. Yes, customers do not limit trust to security and privacy, it also includes the reliability as well as the social and ethical responsibility of the service provider.

In addition, the recent proliferation of cybercrime has drastically affected trust levels and, by extension, our economies. This makes digital trust a critical issue that needs our attention. The social and digital worlds do not enjoy the same measure of trust, as people leverage the anonymity offered through digital platforms to express their hidden selves. Digital trust, therefore, remains what we must consciously build into our systems, knowing the constraints of the digital space.

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Besides, consumers of digital technologies and services expect that organizations providing them will secure all stakeholders’ interests while maintaining acceptable societal standards and values. Almost any product or service can be purchased online from different companies globally, trust is nonetheless a significant differentiator. To grow digital trust, organizations, governments, and individuals must focus on providing a secure and reliable platform, offering easy-to-use and transparent services or products; in a responsible and ethical net-vironment while offering users a lot of privacy and control to own the process. Even more, digital technologies that drive core societal functions and infrastructure, which include supporting access to food, water, housing, health care, energy, and transportation, need to be continuously safeguarded by governments and a socially responsible private sector.

Trust connects the unknown space with our reality, and one way to resolve the issue a loss of the same poses is to reduce the amount of uncertainty by keeping things simple. We can achieve this through clear communication with people who use our service, even in times of crisis, and a business culture that openly takes responsibility for mistakes and shows what has been learned.

Interestingly, Callsign engaged Cebr to conduct a study on the value of digital trust across modern economies, demonstrating that growing digital trust drives GDP growth. Some further research into digital and societal trust correlation also revealed a positive correlation between the two variables, showing that a one percentage point increase in digital trust share contributes to a 0.8 percentage point increase in societal trust levels. This relationship is statistically significant at the 5% confidence level, as seen in The Digital Trust Index report by Cebr for Callsign. Trust is, however, linked with security, which entails the structures to protect user data and disallow unauthorized access. An organization offering top-notch cybersecurity gets more customer patronage on its sites and apps than those constantly suffering security breaches on its customers’ data. We can say that privacy speaks to the protection of user data and controls how it is acquired, utilized, and shared.

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Also, digital trust is essential because it fortifies user confidence in an organization to secure consumer data, implement effective cybersecurity, provide trustworthy customer-tailored products and services, and be transparent about how customer data is used. One survey revealed that nine out of 10 Americans (about 86%) believe business transparency is more important today, while 73 percent will pay for products that promise complete transparency. We can examine digital trust from four broad perspectives, with behavior and attitudes on the demand side and environment and user experience offered on the supply side, and vice versa.

Moreover, the impact of digital trust can be seen in the fact that it helps build reliability and helps the user easily decide on a secure service compared to a bad one. It builds a relationship between online organizations and their users, while safety and security are a given. An environment that connects employees, contractors, systems, and consumers must be robust and adaptive to security. The more digital trust users have in the company, the likelier they can grow their user base phenomenally.

However, there are some disadvantages of digital trust. According to the ISACA survey, the most significant hindrances to digital trust are lack of skills and training as agreed on by 53 percent of those surveyed, non-alignment with enterprise goals taking up 44 percent, lack of leadership buy-in with 42 percent in agreement, lack of budget taking 41 percent and lack of technological resources having 40 percent. Although there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee, some risk remains. As in the analog world, we cannot solve the trust issue through a purely technocratic solution or swap trust with a technical tool.

Nonetheless, digital trust has enormous growth prospects as the Identity and Digital Trust market size continues to grow. The Fortune Business Insight forecasts that the global identity as a service market is projected to grow from $4.92 billion in 2022 to $23.88 billion by 2029. This is a compounding annual growth rate of 25.3% in the forecast period. These numbers are interesting as exponential growth may offer an imminent benefit if we are compliant.

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Furthermore, digital trust applies to different technologies. In Blockchain for example, digital trust enables users to make quick decisions between security and privacy that reflect their confidence level. Digital trust is a type of user heuristics in the blockchain. Trust and safety refer to the portion of a digital service’s operations that pays attention to understanding and providing solutions to the harmful content or conduct linked with that service. Trust is important to building a sustainable digital ecosystem. If we are unsure about whom we are engaging with online and how secure and ethical the processes we reduce our online interactions until we eventually come to a halt.

In conclusion, regardless of the space (physical or virtual) citizens and netizens need to know that our interactions are authentic, our communication is safe, and the information exchanged is legitimate. Higher digital trust is linked with greater societal trust, which drives wealth across economies. Businesses must therefore invest in building digital trust. Today’s consumers demand easy-to-use, secure, and ethical usage experiences in their digital lives, trust must be hewn into every fabric of the digital experience and transaction. Financial services organizations in particular are expected to provide secure digital identities, and governments are to create more secure digital worlds. However, both institutions need to work together to realize secure and protected digital identities, able to build trust, and respect our privacy. Ultimately, earning digital trust is a responsibility shared by organizations, governments, civil society, and all individuals.

Thank you for the investment in time. Please follow my Medium: https://medium.com/@roariyo and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/olufemi-ariyo-923ba6130/ or send an email to [email protected]

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