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SCA survey: Security vs. convenience in the payment experience

With Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) coming into force on 14 September 2019 as the final part of PSD2, many online businesses are required to add additional security measures to large parts of their online payment experience.

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SCA: Security vs. convenience in the payment experience

Key goals of SCA include reducing payment fraud and creating a safer payment experience for the customer. But to what extent will consumers embrace the changes or reject them in the form of abandoning a transaction?

In short – what matters the most to customers, security or convenience? While the two factors are independent of one another there is often a trade-off where heightened security means reduced convenience and vice versa. Will customers stand for heightened security measures if it makes it more complicated to complete a transaction?

GoCardless surveyed 4,000 customers across the UK, France, Germany and Spain about their attitudes to both security and convenience when shopping online. The research also asked questions on feelings about certain specific elements of the new SCA requirements, and how increased security at checkout would influence their buying behaviour.

The report focuses on shoppers’ attitudes to both security and convenience when making purchases online. The survey of 4,000 people distributed evenly across the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, have been weighted and are representative of each individual market’s adults (aged 18+).

Key insights

Online shoppers are torn between security and convenience: Across all four countries surveyed, security was deemed more important than convenience, but in some markets, the difference was small.

The attitudes towards security and convenience were most evenly split in the UK, with 55% choosing security, while France had the greatest preference for security (62%).

Suspicious of additional security steps: Despite the UK’s slight preference for security during the online payment experience, only 40% of those surveyed said they would feel more secure with more complex security procedures – in fact, as many said that extra security steps would make them feel suspicious, while French and Spanish respondents are more likely to feel suspicious (46% and 41%, respectively). In Germany, respondents were most likely to feel secure (45%) when faced with complex security procedures.

Biometric information is the least appealing authorisation method: While all four markets were generally comfortable with the idea of providing the security information that may well be necessary for certain transactions under new SCA requirements, biometric information (e.g. a fingerprint) was the greatest cause for concern, with only 45% of Spanish shoppers and 49% of French shoppers feeling comfortable with it.

Shoppers are prone to abandoning a complex payment process: When those surveyed were asked about previous shopping habits, a significant number reported that they had abandoned a complex payment process in the past.

Almost half (48%) in Germany, 44% in the UK and 40% in Spain had abandoned a purchase. Only a third (33%) of French shoppers have done so.

The research also showed that some customers will even consider shopping less at their favourite brand if faced with a more complex checkout process. Almost a quarter of respondents in France (23%), the UK (23%) and Spain (24%) would shop less at their favourite brand if security measures at checkout increased. In Germany, over a quarter (26%) would consider using their favourite brand less often.

The likelihood of purchase abandonment was even higher across all four markets when shopping with brands that are new to the shopper. This was particularly pronounced in Germany, where 36% of respondents would cancel a purchase if a new brand had a lengthy (yet still secure) payment process, while 33% in Spain would do the same.

Most markets would choose Direct Debit to maintain convenience: Finally, when respondents were asked if they could pay for an online subscription with Direct Debit to avoid a complex checkout process, over half (52%) of all 4,000 respondents responded that they would be likely or very likely to choose this option. This likelihood was particularly strong in the UK (63%) and Germany (62%).

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