NEW YORK: Forward-thinking banks can build a strong branded position as consumers’ “trusted” data manager, according to a timely study published a week after credit reference agency Equifax admitted that hackers had stolen the personal details of as many as 143m US consumers.

Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney surveyed more than 7,000 consumers for its report, Consumer Data Privacy: Strategic Opportunities to Address Emerging Consumer Needs, and found that digitally-active consumers overwhelmingly (96%) expressed being “somewhat” to “extremely” concerned about data collection and use.

But that didn’t stop more than three quarters engaging in digital payment transactions at least once a month, it added, and the level and intensity of such behaviour is only likely to grow further as consumers turn to using cards-on-file, both at individual retailers and third-party payment providers such as PayPal and Visa Checkout.

Among those who keep cards on files with retailers as primary payment method for digital purchases, 44% have already given their payment credentials to be held on file at more than five retailers, the study revealed.

As a result, many consumers are looking for stronger tools and controls to manage access and use of their personal and transaction data in digital commerce.

The issue is particularly relevant as Equifax battles a series of disclosures about its handling of consumer data, most recently the revelation by security expert Brian Klebs that Visa and Mastercard have been sending out confidential alerts to financial institutions warning about 200,000 compromised cards.

Among consumers who engage in digital commerce and are prepared to share their data, A.T Kearney found that 65% of consumers rated their primary bank as a provider with whom they were comfortable sharing personal information.

Banks' high rating compared very favorably to the ratings for tech companies, like Amazon (34%), Apple (22%) and Google (17%), and large national retailers (10%).

Bob Hedges, lead partner in A.T. Kearney's global financial services practice and co-author of the study, observed “a level of frustration” among US consumers about their inability to act on concerns about data privacy.

“A significant marketplace opportunity is available to be capitalized on by banks in operationalizing consumer interests and advocating on their behalf in the complex world of digital data and digital marketing,” he said.

Data sourced from A.T. Kearney, FinExtra; additional content by WARC staff