How to Build Brand Loyalty and Trust in the Security of Your Online Financial Products

Posted by Jim Ross on Jul 20, 2021

When it comes to the privacy and security of financial products, the stakes for your customers are high. People want to trust their financial companies to protect them, keep their information safe, and prioritize security.

It’s evident that being a trusted product and brand will help you gain customer loyalty. But, how do you communicate trust and security at every step? From our extensive research in the financial services industry, we’ve identified several elements that lead people to trust your services and the ways that trust affects their behaviors when using your product. If you’re looking for ways to build a trustworthy customer experience, take a look at these recommendations.

What makes a consumer trust the security of your financial product?

There are a number of elements that instill trust in your financial product, from design to security features to word-of-mouth recommendations.

1. Trust in the brand as a whole

Consumers’ general feelings about a company greatly influence their trust in the company’s security and privacy policies. Time and time again, we hear from participants that they rarely take the time to read companies’ security, privacy policies, or terms and conditions. Instead, they trust that large, well-established companies with good reputations have good security and privacy policies.

A common belief among many participants was that the best way to ensure security with online shopping was to make most purchases and create accounts with large merchants only. As a result, people trust well-established, reputable companies like large credit card companies, PayPal, and large ecommerce sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Likewise, they trusted e-commerce sites that were from known brands and avoided saving their credit card information with smaller or less well-known companies.

2. A well-designed websiteIllustration of Website

Participants said they trusted sites that looked clean, professional, and easy to use.

What a well-designed, easy to use website implies:
People feel that a well-designed website reflects the company has their act together. It shows they pay attention to the details, and it often reflects how easy or difficult it will be to use their product.

What a poorly designed, difficult to use website implies:
People feel that a poorly designed site implies your company is unprofessional, disorganized, lacks technical expertise, has poor financial tools, would be challenging to work with, and doesn’t care enough to provide a good experience for their customers.

However, site design isn’t everything! Many people also look to the company’s reputation, friends’ recommendations, customer reviews, internet research about the company, and the ease of contacting customer service.

Illustration of a padlock3. Using recognized security settings and symbols

Consumers know to look for recognized security symbols like the ‘https’ notation, the lock icon in the browser’s URL bar, or standard security badge graphics. Use these symbols and visuals to instill trust in your site visitors.

4. Well-designed and intentional email practices

Because of the sensitive nature of financial information, many customers worry about the legitimacy of emails, concerned they may be phishing attempts. Based on our research, our team recommends:

  • Use consistent branding in your emails. For example, ensure your email templates match your company’s website, display your logo, and reassure your customers that emails are legitimately from you.
  • Create personalized emails. Using the customer’s name and the last few digits of their card number can signal a high level of legitimacy and personalization that will ease concerns.

Some participants have shared they are suspicious of links and buttons in emails due to phishing and spam practices. Instead, try recommending that they log in to their account and then take the relevant action to diffuse any phishing concerns.

5. Prioritizing security by requiring customers to log in to complete certain tasks

People often get nervous and suspicious when they can perform specific actions without logging in. We’ve seen several companies try to make tasks easier over the years by removing the login requirement. For example, some financial companies allow customers to pay their bills, confirm receipt of a credit card, or add an additional cardholder to their account without logging in.

We’ve found that although this makes these tasks easier, people miss the secure feeling they get from logging in. Many feel that they might expose themselves to a security risk or be unknowingly tricked by a phishing site.

6. Asking the right information during account set-up and card applications

Be intentional about the information you ask your customers to provide. People are used to financial companies asking them for certain information in credit card applications or account set-up processes. They get suspicious and uncomfortable when financial companies ask them for information that falls outside those norms.

For example, we once tested a credit card activation form that asked customers to enter their mother’s date of birth as a verification step. The participants felt that was a very unusual piece of information to ask for. They wondered how the credit card company would know their mother’s date of birth. Many couldn’t remember if they provided that information in the past as it fell outside of the typical questions. Some even pointed out that with the help of social media, many people could easily discover that information.

Illustration of a woman looking confused surrounded by question marksIn credit card or bank account applications, avoid asking for information that doesn’t seem relevant and explain why the information is needed. Many don’t want to provide information that feels intrusive or irrelevant, and often, they worry about the security of that information once it’s in your hands.

In general, people dislike being asked to provide:

  • Information that breaks the norms of what companies typically ask
  • Information that seems intrusive or too personal
  • Information that they want to keep private and secure from third parties
  • Information that seems irrelevant and feels like an added burden
  • Information that isn’t secure because others could know or easily find it online (like their mother’s date of birth)

If you must ask for information customers may not be used to providing, explain why you’re asking it. Telling customers that having the right information helps keep their account secure is reassuring and can ease any concerns.

What is the impact of trust in your brand? How does it influence customer behavior?

1. Trust in a familiar brand can make people more receptive to new financial products and features.

People are somewhat suspicious about new financial products from companies they don’t know. They wonder: will applying for this affect my credit rating? Is it secure? Is it a scam? 

Consumers are much more willing to trust products from companies they’re already familiar with. So if you’re launching a new feature or product, ensure the name and branding communicate the relationship to your main brand. People are more likely to trust a new service from American Express or Visa, for example, than they are to trust the same service from a brand new, startup company they’ve never heard of.

2. Trust in your product makes people likely to use your product over others

Across our studies, we’ve found that many customers feel that their bank and credit card company will protect them from fraud, spot any suspicious charges, and assist them if they need to report fraudulent purchases. Because they feel protected, they are more likely to use your card or product more frequently and save card information on merchant sites. 

Those who save credit card information online regularly care less about potential misuse of their information because they trust their banks to flag potential fraud and reverse incorrect charges easily.

3. Customers appreciate when you use their information to make tasks easier.

Improve your customer’s experience by utilizing existing information to make tasks more streamlined. For example, suppose an existing bank customer is applying for a new credit card. They expect and appreciate when already available information like name, address, and phone number is pre-populated in the form.

4. Trust in your brand creates trust in your credit card product. 

Many people feel there is an inherent risk in using credit cards, but the convenience is unmatched. When someone trusts your company, they don’t worry as much about saving card or address information on ecommerce sites. Many of our participants have expressed a sense of apathy about how much they can actually do to protect their information. However, they are often cautious about saving card information on unfamiliar or infrequently used merchant sites.A man holding his phone with three app bubbles around his head, including a pay now button, a wallet with cash, and hands holding a gemstone.

5. A seamless mobile app experience lets customers check balances on the go.

Over time, we’ve learned that people have become more willing to use financial apps on mobile since TouchID and FaceID have become available. The key advantage of financial mobile apps is the ability to quickly check transactions and balances at a moment’s notice – many times a day. Make sure you’re prioritizing a sophisticated and seamless mobile experience for your customers to enable these quick tasks.


Building trust in the security of your financial brand is critical to developing brand loyalty. Your customers appreciate and want security, but remember to always balance this with ease of use and convenience. With the right balance and attention to detail, you’ll reap the benefits and create a seamless experience for your customers.

To learn more about financial services research trends, read our other Insights articles on the topic.

Want to learn more about research in the financial services industry? Check out our article: Innovate Your Credit Card Product and Services to Meet Evolving Customer Needs.

Written by

Jim Ross

Jim Ross is a Principal UX Researcher at AnswerLab where he leads research with clients to help them better understand their customers, in order to create experiences that people love. He has over 20 years of experience in UX research and design, is a frequent speaker at UX conferences, and is a prolific author for UX magazines and blogs.

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