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If you trusted them online, you'll trust us
06 July 2012
Research into online trust suggests that users who had positive experiences with services in the past and so trusted those services will be more trusting of new services they use. Details are described in a forthcoming issue of "Electronic Government, An International Journal".
Luis Casaló of the University of Zaragoza, Spain, and colleagues suggest that without trust we would not have had the massive growth in online business and e-commerce during the last decade. Many of those internet companies that have fallen by the wayside over the years, economic downturns notwithstanding, have often failed because they never gained the trust of their potential users.
However, this lack of trust is due in part to the nature of the new kind of transactions that take place in the online world as opposed to the channels of trust in traditional commerce. Those companies that have succeeded have recognised the distinction and developed partnerships with their users that at least hint at a kind of mutual trust. The researchers suggest that user trust is also in part associated with earlier positive experiences and that this can spill over into the world of e-government, where public services are addressing and interacting with citizens, as opposed to commercial concerns buying and selling to consumers. The slowly growing concept of e-government is very much in the early stages, the team says and could succeed or fail based on the development of mutual trust just as happens in e-commerce.
The team's data suggest that trust in e-government services depends on the satisfaction of citizens with their previous experiences, the ease of use of the service, and the perceived privacy and security of personal data. Providers of online public services in the arena of e-government could do well to take heed of the successes and failures on the internet and ensure that the services they provide are easy to use, have appropriate privacy and build on trust.