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Canadian customers among least trusting with their personal data: KPMG

Canadians among least trusting with personal data: KPMG

As Canadians demand better digital experiences, companies will win by earning loyalty through transparency and innovation


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Nearly two-thirds of Canadians don’t trust any organization to see or hold their personal data, finds a new report from KPMG in Canada. The report Me, my Canadian life, my wallet, finds that Canadians are among the most distrusting in the world with nearly one-third (31 per cent) unwilling to share their personal data for anything. 

“Companies need to recognize how valuable - and fleeting - customer trust is," says Peter Hughes, Customer and Digital Services Leader, KPMG in Canada. "As consumers continue to migrate to online platforms and expectations for a leading digital experience rise, the companies who are able to earn customer trust will gain much needed insight that will deepen relationships and sales. Those that don’t will fail." 

Hughes is quick to note that findings like these present an incredible opportunity for Canadian businesses. Transparency and effective communication are key to reassuring customers that their data is in safe hands and that it is being used in their benefit. “Canadian businesses need to achieve that fine balance between providing a data-driven personalized experience, and winning customer trust. And they have to believe that if they don’t, their competitors will, wherever or whoever they may be.”

Canadians far less trusting than the rest of the world

  Global Canada
I would not trade my data for anything, not even money 24% 31%
I don't trust anyone with my search/browsing data 35% 54%
I don't trust anyone with my Streaming/Media data 34% 52%
I don't trust anyone with my mobile data (location, call history) 31% 48%
I don't trust anyone with my work "social" data (LinkedIn) 36% 57%

China (91 per cent) and India (85 per cent) are the most trusting and willing to share their data. 

"We saw a distinct split in terms of organizations that Canadians trusted and didn't trust," says Katie Bolla, Associate Principal, Customer and Digital Services, KPMG in Canada. "Most trust healthcare providers (63 per cent) and banks (61 per cent), likely because they believe the data they share with these organizations is well protected and provides them a benefit of an enhanced, personalized experience.

"On the other hand, advertisers (15 per cent), media (33 per cent) and telecom (33 per cent) were the least trusted by Canadians, largely because people don't see the benefit to them of the data these firms hold - they view the data as being collected for the firm's benefit. Consumers, especially Canadians, expect increased value in exchange for any data they share –we are no longer willing to just hand it over. It is imperative that organizations really target the data that they ask for and provide consumers compelling, relevant and rewarding experiences in exchange."

Canadians split on who they trust with their data

Most trusted sectors: ​Least trusted sectors:
  • Healthcare providers (62 per cent)
  • Advertising (15 per cent)
  • ​Banking providers (60 per cent)
  • Telecom (31 per cent)
  • Media (33 per cent)

Not surprisingly, customers are more likely to trust firms with the data relevant to their operations where the data could enhance the services/goods offered. Most Canadians (82 per cent) trust a banking provider with their financial data (71 per cent globally), but only six per cent (nine per cent globally) would trust retailers with this information. Likewise, 45 per cent of customers (47 per cent globally) would trust a telecom provider with their mobile data, but only four per cent (eight per cent globally) would trust advertisers.

"Canadians are generally comfortable when it comes to trusting their information to an organization or institution with whom they have a relationship, especially when they feel that the organization has a legitimate reason to collect it," says Sylvia Kingsmill, National Leader, Digital Privacy and Compliance, Forensic Services. "But the implicit contract is that this data goes no further. It's fine for the company to whom we knowingly provide our data to use this in ways we expect or consent to, but it's simply not acceptable for this to be misused, manipulated, sold or exposed.

"Customers are beginning to understand the value of their data, and are much less inclined to give it out than they have been in the past," adds Kingsmill. "Businesses need to be open and clear about why they're asking for certain types of data, how they're going to protect it, and with whom they're planning to share it."

The results of KPMG's study demonstrate that businesses are dealing with more data-savvy customers who want to be in control. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadians say they can determine what information is trustworthy (67 per cent globally).

Social & online data: the struggle is real

The study shows that Canadians are more willing to share financial data than social media or browser history data. 

  • 57 per cent don't trust anyone with their social media data (37 per cent globally)
  • 54 per cent with their search history or browsing data (35 per cent globally) 
  • 63 per cent don't trust behaviorally tracked ads (42 per cent globally)
  • 30 per cent wouldn't trust any type of business with their financial data (24 per cent globally).

Canadian customers are anxious, with younger generations feeling it the most," says Hughes. "They like new technology but are concerned about handing over personal data, and what that could mean for their privacy and security. We see more and more organizations looking to monetize the data they hold – whether that's what we put in our shopping basket, how many times a week we exercise, or what we choose to watch.

"Yet many haven't fully grasped the concerns Canadians have about how that data is collected and managed. Organizations need to continue to evolve digitally because the demand will continue to grow, especially from new Canadians who, in many cases, only know the online world. But if they want to collect quality data on their customers they also need to understand that trust is a non-negotiable. The smartest businesses I work with understand this new environment and use it to earn customer loyalty."

Hughes notes that businesses can earn that loyalty by following three rules for success:

  • Be open about why you're asking for certain types of data, how you will protect it, whether it is sold or shared outside the organization, and reward customers for sharing their data with you
  • Manage increasing expectations by continually innovating and being ready to deliver new digital and mobile experiences
  • Live a corporate culture that values the customer from every corner of the organization.

For more information on the Me, my Canadian life, my wallet report and to learn more, please visit

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ashley Lewis 
KPMG in Canada

About KPMG's Customer Insights Program research

KPMG conducted an extensive, global study which included a survey of almost 25,000 customers around the world, including almost 2,500 in Canada. Further context was provided by an in-depth ethnographic interviews with customer on the ground in these same eight countries. *A supplementary global survey of 4,900 customers was conducted (over 600 in Canada) following the initial Global KPMG study.

The 2018 Me, my life, my wallet report is a deep dive into the story of today's customer and the ways humans from every corner of the globe are both fiercely individual but also experiencing a world of technology convergence and changing cultural landscape – and what that means for how they earn, spend and save.

About KPMG 

KPMG LLP, an Audit, Tax and Advisory firm ( and a Canadian limited liability partnership established under the laws of Ontario, is the Canadian member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG member firms around the world have 200,000 professionals, in 154 countries.

The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity, and describes itself as such.

© 2020 KPMG LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

For more detail about the structure of the KPMG global organization please visit

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