New research from PCI Pal®, the global provider of secure payment solutions, has identified Australian consumers’ current concerns relating to data and payment security practices – and the potential impact this may have on businesses in the future – in the age of Covid-19.

The survey found that almost a third (31%) would avoid a business “for up to several years” if their personal data is compromised due to poor data security practices during the pandemic, while 30% stated that they would “never return to the business”. This represents a significant potential risk to firms from both a revenue and reputation perspective. Only 7% said “it wouldn’t impact” their loyalty to the business.

While the majority of consumers (53%) felt the same level of concern regarding how businesses are handling their personal data now compared to before the pandemic, a significant 42% said they felt more concerned.

This worry was further elevated when asked specifically about sharing payment information to businesses operating remotely.  Here, 8 out of 10 respondents expressed some level of concern with 26% stating they are “very concerned” about how their personal data is being handled during the pandemic.

Geoff Forsyth, Chief Information Security Officer, PCI Pal said, “Cybercriminals are shamelessly opportunistic and are aiming to capitalise on the remote working situation. Hackers are working around the clock to steal data for profit and therefore consumers are rightfully holding businesses accountable for lax data security practices. This means that businesses must meet the highest compliance and security standards if they want to build and maintain customer loyalty.”

When comparing the same research in the UK and US, American consumers are the most likely to say that since the Coronavirus pandemic, they are now more concerned about companies handling their personal data securely (38.6%) versus 28% of respondents in the UK.

In addition, when asked whether since the Coronavirus pandemic they are concerned about sharing payment details to businesses operating from home, both US and UK consumers were as equally concerned with 76.8% and 75% (respectively) expressing concern – both marginally lower than 80% of respondents in Australia.

In the event of personal data being compromised as a result of poor data security practices during Covid-19, the survey found that 30% of respondents in both Australia and the UK said they would never return to that business, compared to just 17% in America, who instead saw a majority (40%) saying they would avoid purchasing with the company for ‘several months’.

Concludes Geoff Forsyth: “Our research suggests that a large proportion of consumers will shop elsewhere if businesses fail to deliver on data security. As organisations continue to adapt to the changing business and threat landscape, it is crucial to prioritise data security. This includes adjusting business models to meet the highest standards of security and compliance across all customer engagement channels.”

Download the full press release here.