Promoting privacy makes for good business. In November 2014, the Pew Research Center released a survey on Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era. The Survey revealed some interesting data. 61% of respondents indicated that they would like to do more to protect their personal information that exists online. Personal information that most Americans deemed to be very sensitive included, social security numbers, health records and details of an individuals’ physical location over time. Americans were far less concerned about information such as the type of media a person likes or basic purchasing habits. Businesses are starting to recognize their customers’ concern for privacy and market products accordingly. For example, AT&T announced that it would offer customers the opportunity to opt-out of targeted advertising for an additional $29 per month. In addition to existing businesses providing products, whole new businesses are being started around privacy, including companies such as Wickr, Dashlane, LifeLock and 1Password.
While privacy as a product is gaining momentum, more needs to be done and companies should be looking to differentiate themselves by using privacy as a marketing tool. In my opinion, residential home loans represent one untapped area in which privacy should be marketed for consumers. What does that mean? Currently, it is common for wealthy individuals to place properties in corporate entities for privacy reasons. However, to my knowledge, banks have not embraced corporate entities for more moderate home loans. Banks are missing a potential opportunity. Data such as the Pew Research Center survey confirms that individuals care about protecting information about “details of an individuals’ physical location over time.” For many individuals, especially those in law enforcement or those have been the victim of a crime, such as stalking, protecting address information is important. Without corporate entities to mask home addresses, address information can often be discovered on the Internet. In an ever increasing competitive retail banking environment, offering a way for customers to shield their home address may provide the selling point needed for a customer to chose one bank over another.
In the future, I believe that privacy as a product will be gain increasing attention from customers and businesses alike. The retailers, financial institutions and other businesses who recognize privacy as a marketable product first will likely benefit most from the trend.