Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific conducted research aimed at understanding Malaysian consumers’ trust in digital services and found that consumers feel that governments, followed by technology companies should take the lead in building trust. Consumers also said that they have the highest expectations of trust from financial services institutions, followed by education institutions and healthcare organizations
Today, almost all transactions and interactions in Malaysia, from organizations and government agencies, to banks and retailers, are becoming digital. At the same time, consumers are becoming more aware of the cybersecurity risks and the risks to the privacy of their personal data, not just from cybercriminals but also from organizations holding on to their personal data.
Highlighting a strong need to build trust in the region, a study from Microsoft and IDC Asia/Pacific, Understanding Consumer Trust in Digital Services in Asia Pacific  revealed that only 24% of consumers in Malaysia believe their personal data will be treated in a trustworthy manner by organizations offering digital services.
The study aims to understand consumers’ expectations of trust, uncover their experiences with digital services and provide tangible insights to organizations to help bridge the gap by earning and sustaining the trust of consumers in the digital world.
“The upside for organizations with a trusted digital platform is tremendous as Malaysia is a digitally active market, where almost all of the transactions and interactions here would be digital in the near future,” said Dr. Jasmine Begum, Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and New Markets. “However, despite consumers’ increasing reliance on digital services, there is still a considerable trust gap that needs to be addressed. Most consumers still do not perceive organizations to be trusted data stewards. I urge business leaders to do more to understand what drives consumer trust and focus on how they can build trust and make it a key competitive advantage for their digital services,” she added.
Commenting on the report findings, Dato’ Ts. Dr. Haji Amirudin Bin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia – the national cyber security specialist and technical agency said, “As our digital economy continues to grow manifold, it has also opened various risks. Data privacy remains a key concern with both consumers and businesses being at risk of data breach.
As cyber security specialists, we are grateful for the efforts taken by Microsoft in spreading awareness on the importance of data security and we hope our efforts in creating a safer cyberspace for Malaysia will continue to align.”
The study, which surveyed 453 consumers in Malaysia, asked respondents to provide their opinions on the five elements of trust jointly defined by IDC and Microsoft – namely privacy, security, reliability, ethics, and compliance  – when using digital services.
The study revealed that consumer feel that all five elements of trust are almost equally important to them. Specifically, privacy (92%), security (91%) and reliability (88%) emerged as the top three most important elements. Consumers also have the highest expectations of trust from financial services institutions, followed by education institutions and healthcare organizations.
Fig 1: The importance of the five trust elements, according to consumers in Malaysia
“Trust is critical for organizations to succeed in this digital world as consumers overwhelmingly prefer to transact with organizations with a trusted digital platform,” said Simon Piff, Vice President of Security Practice, IDC Asia/Pacific. “As competition between digital services becomes more intense and global in nature, advocacy through word of mouth can be a strong differentiator for the organization and a shot in the arm for the brand.”
Building Trust in Artificial Intelligence and Digital Services
As technology continues to transform how we live, work and play, all organizations providing digital services and harnessing the capabilities of AI should be responsible for fulfilling the five elements of trust with their customers directly.
However, the responsibility of building trust should not just be on the shoulders of these organizations providing digital services but also the broader industry, including government institutions and technology companies.
The study showed that consumers in Malaysia feel that the government (41%) should take the lead in building trust, followed by technology companies (27%) and communities (19%), indicating the need for a stronger partnership between governments, technology companies and other stakeholders.
Fig 2: Consumers’ opinion on who should take the lead in establishing trust, besides organizations providing digital services
When it comes to fostering trust in AI technologies, consumers feel that the government (44%) and technology companies (29%) should take the lead in ensuring AI is used in a trusted manner.
“To establish a trusted framework for the development and usage of AI and technology in general, we must first consider its impact on individuals, businesses and society. This would require a broader debate that involves the appropriate stakeholders, including the government and technology companies. These dialogues would need to be backed by actions, including forging closer partnerships and facilitating greater knowledge exchange. These are all necessary steps that will enable us to collectively establish a well-balanced, holistic baseline for trust for the entire industry,” Dr. Begum concluded.
Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Consumers’ Future
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the defining technology of our generation that will become the center of our digital world. When harnessed properly, AI can solve our biggest problems – from finding the cure to diseases to creating a more sustainable world.
Although the adoption and usage of AI is still in its nascent stages, there is already great optimism for AI in Malaysia. Most consumers (89%) in Malaysia are aware of AI and the majority (51%) are optimistic about the future of AI. Consumers are also generally optimistic about the impact of AI on their jobs where almost four out of five (79%) believing that the impact will be positive.
 About the Microsoft-IDC Study: Understanding Consumer Trust in Digital Services in Asia Pacific:
• 6,372 consumers across Asia Pacific participated in this study.
• A total of 453 consumers were surveyed in Malaysia, an almost equal ratio of males and females were surveyed: 43% male; 57% female.
• Consumers were from four different age groups: Gen Z – 15 years old to 25 years old (20%); Gen Y – 26 years old to 40 years old (30%); Gen X – 41 years old to 55 years old (30%); and Baby Boomers – 56 years old to 75 years old (20%).
• All respondents come from a broad spectrum of occupations, from management, professions to students and homemakers.
• 14 APAC markets involved: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
• An important qualifier for the Study is that these consumers need to be digitally active in their daily lives, where they regularly perform online activities such as banking, shopping and have had social media engagements in last 90 days.
 Definition of the five trust elements provided to the study’s respondents:
• Privacy: the organization providing digital services takes all steps to keep my personal information private and used only for the purposes which I approve;
• Security: the organization providing digital services takes appropriate steps to ensure my personal information is always secure;
• Reliability: the organization providing digital services maintains its product and services to work consistently and with minimal disruption;
• Ethics: the organization providing digital services uses the data it collects from me in an ethical manner based on standards of honesty, fairness and inclusiveness;
• Compliance: the organization providing digital services ensures that the products and services I use adhere to established industry and statutory regulations.