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Privacy has changed: How can brands keep customers safe in the metaverse?

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So much of our lives is online, so it’s no surprise to see that privacy and security concerns are taking centre stage. How do we keep our customers safe in a world that’s only becoming more digital? James Squires, Lead Consultant of Tech Strategy at Wunderman Thompson Technology, thinks he has at least a part of the answer.

Consumers deserve to feel safe

The pandemic caused a surge in online activity and in turn, we saw in an increase in cyberattacks across the globe, targeting vulnerable individuals and worldwide institutions. In response, consumers have become wary of the information they give online and security is now front of mind.

GDPR was introduced in May 2018 following consumer privacy concerns, to guarantee the protection of personal data whenever it is processed, transferred or collected across EU member states. We have since seen consent pop-up boxes when browsing the web as organisations are required to inform users before obtaining consent to store or access their data. Meeting privacy requirements is essential for all businesses, and many privacy laws call for severe fines if terms are broken.

Consumers deserve to feel safe online, and the need for a frictionless and speedy experience is no longer a nice to have but a must. And rightly so – customers shouldn’t have to sacrifice online safety for a slow, inefficient experience. So, how can organisations make sure that they balance the performance of their digital channels whilst also protecting their customers?

Google leading the charge

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The growing demand for privacy was first made evident in 2020 when there were talks of Google’s third-party cookie phase out. These cookies are usually used for advertising purposes and to improve the user’s web experience, through personalised adverts based on the content that an individual previously interacted.

But, this has quickly become invasion of privacy for many users and has led to initiatives such as Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which aims to protect people’s privacy online, whilst giving companies the tools to build a thriving digital experience. The Competition and Market’s Authority (CMA) revealed that they were keeping a close eye on Google to ensure the move away from third-party cookies to benefit and protect customers online.

Although some customer actions and behaviours will no longer be measurable, customers now feel safer while browsing the web and brands must find new ways to learn about their audiences without being intrusive.

Being aware of emerging risks

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It’s clear from recent privacy laws that customer confidence is a top priority – and a consent pop-up box is simple enough to enable customers to feel safe online; customers’ online safety and confidence in brands is often linked. Therefore, having security hurdles in the customer experience reassures them that their safety and privacy is being taken seriously.

And as brands continue to accommodate their customer’s growing expectations, it can be tricky to create a seamless and secure approach across multiple channels. Take new platforms like the metaverse for example – despite the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, the platform stores a massive amount of biometric data which is causing growing concern around customer safety. 

And as cybercriminals move from stealing passwords to stealing fingerprints, there is a worry that the virtual world is becoming increasingly difficult to secure.

Safety in a new digital world

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As brands continue to find their footing in the digital world, it is important for them to put customers first. There is a need to find the right balance between a secure and quick experience for customers, and this can include simple mechanisms such as two-factor authentication for easier logins and access to safe, quick payment services such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Such technology reduces the amount of data that organisations need to hold from customers and instils customer confidence in online journeys. At the end of the day, businesses need to ensure that their customers feel safe and secure when interacting online but must also put more care into complex challenges around data storage and security - especially as innovations such as the metaverse and cryptocurrencies become commonplace in day-to-day life. 

Only then will consumers have the comfort of knowing that an uninterrupted online experience can be achieved in a safe and secure environment.

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