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Survey: Most Americans Trust Online Transactions; Varies By Generation

October 4, 2021
5 min

As the world rushed to digitize during the pandemic, most consumers say they still prefer extra verification steps — despite causing some friction —  to help them feel safe and secure when making critical transactions online 

It’s been a year-and-a-half of ups, downs, and uncertainties during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing that has been undeniable is progress and forward momentum to digitize nearly every interaction and transaction so that life and business could continue uninterrupted.

Notarize recently commissioned a survey with Harris Poll to check in on consumer sentiment in mid-2021 and examines consumer attitudes and experiences around making financial transactions online, including the role technology plays in making consumers feel safe. The report features insights from 2,000 consumers and provides a better understanding of the generational gaps in what, exactly, provides consumers peace of mind when adopting digital solutions.

Here’s what Americans told us:

It’s not just a temporary fix- the world really is moving online - and feeling good about it. Now, more than 4 in 5 U.S. adults (81%) say they feel secure making financial transactions online. Authentication and identity verification services make Americans feel overwhelmingly secure making transactions online.

Today, 90% of people complete financial transactions online, including 86% of those older than 65. About half of U.S. adults who’ve completed financial transactions online say two-factor authentication (51%) or security questions (48%) make their online financial transactions feel most safe and secure.

A reverse ‘generational gap’ exists in what makes people feel their financial transactions are safe and secure.

Overall, consumers 45 to 54 years old feel the most secure completing online financial transactions (87%), compared to 79% of younger adults aged 18 to 34. Younger Americans say the ability to talk to customer service by phone or online (53%) or a limited number of steps (22%) make their online financial transactions feel most safe and secure, while older Americans are significantly more likely than their younger counterparts to say two-factor authentication (53%), security questions (61%), or personal identification numbers (49%) make their online financial transactions feel most safe and secure.

There are predictable correlations between age and both awareness and adoption of digital solutions.

When it comes to digital solutions like online notarizations, awareness is highest among younger generations and adoption drops off significantly among older Americans. Only 3% of respondents 65 and older have ever used an online notary —compared to a quarter of those 18 to 34 years old (26%) and 35 to 44 years old (25%) —  while 89% of the older age group didn’t even know that was an option.

In a ‘click-to-buy’ world,  a little friction in the transaction process provides consumers peace of mind.

79% of respondents agree notarizing a document provides them with peace of mind because their identity will be verified. When making financial transactions, only 19% prefer a limited number of steps to feel secure, such as only answering one security question or providing only one form of identification. 

Consumers are rethinking traditional processes and increasingly desiring and seeking out digital-first options

Getting a document notarized is one of the most traditional, in-person, and face-to-face processes available today, and respondents overwhelmingly agree (68%) that they wish there were an easier, faster way to get a document notarized, and 59% of respondents believe the traditional way of getting a document notarized is outdated/hasn’t kept up with the times. 

“Even the most traditional, in-person transactions have quickly shifted online and as a result, consumers are rethinking every facet of how they conduct sensitive financial transactions digitally,” said Pat Kinsel, Founder and CEO of Notarize. “The data confirms what we at Notarize know to be true -  people trust digital transactions, but still want safety and security throughout the process and are willing to go through the extra steps to give them peace of mind that their transactions are verified and safe. The takeaway for businesses is to make sure you enable technology that provides ease, speed, and security if you want to keep your customers coming back.” 


The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Notarize from June 17-21, 2021 among 2,083 U.S. adults ages 18+. Results were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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