• October 23, 2019

Keep it private with paper

Keep it private with paper

Keep it private with paper 1024 683 Choose Paper

With more and more people worrying about how their details are being used online, the use of digital receipts is causing concern amongst shoppers. Discover why paper receipts remain the safest and most trusted way to provide proof of purchase.

A few weeks ago, Adobe published the results of a survey that explored digital behaviour among different age groups. The research delved into how much influence the internet had on the lives of those in Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. But while the findings were interesting (for example, the youngest, Gen Z were the most receptive to online ads), the headline stat was that 93% of all UK consumers worry about how brands use their data.

This distrust of brands and their handling of personal data is echoed across the Atlantic: a recent global report by Toluna found that 70% of US consumers are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost, or damaged.

So despite all the legislation and the immense amount of work companies and brands have put into making themselves GDPR-compliant, almost every consumer, no matter what their age, still doesn’t trust brands with their personal details. So when stood at the till of a shop, with an assistant asking for an email address, is it any wonder that most people opt for a paper receipt rather than a digital version?

A matter of trust

On the face of it, being emailed a receipt or having one stored in an online account should be an advantage for the digital-savvy shopper. But there’s a key issue of trust that many people just don’t have in businesses and their use of personal data – trust that the company won’t use it to bombard the consumer with ads, trust that they won’t sell it on to other companies, and trust that they will safeguard that data and prevent it getting into the hands of cyber-criminals.

Thanks to an ongoing series of high-profile data breaches and daily avalanches of marketing emails – many of which from companies the consumer hasn’t even heard of, never mind shopped with – shoppers are highly concerned about the ability of big businesses to handle data responsibly.

This concern isn’t without foundation. According to Gemalto’s Breach Level Index, over six million data breaches occur every day around the world, while in the US retail industry in 2018, 150 million records were accidentally breached, which is a significant increase compared to the previous year.

The sustainable solution

There is one simple solution to the anxiety many feel about giving their personal details away so easily, one that’s been working perfectly well for thousands of years: paper. The paper receipt provides instant proof of purchase that can quickly and easily be used for accounting, budgeting and settling any disputes, all without the need to hand over personal information. And, contrary to what many retailers may tell you, it’s environmentally sustainable.

“The environmental performance of paper manufacturers has improved significantly in the past several decades,” explains Greg Selfe, Campaign Manager for Choose Paper, a campaign that advocates for consumer rights to continue receiving paper receipts and raises awareness of their practical benefits. “This includes considerable investment into sustainable forestry practices. Sustainably managed forests absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and produce the oxygen we require in return. By storing that carbon, forests help to regulate the global climate, absorbing nearly 40% of the fossil-fuel emissions produced by humans.”

Own your own data

But while sustainability is a key benefit, the main advantage of paper receipts is their physical presence and anonymity. At a time when data is a profitable commodity, no one can be sure exactly where their personal information will end up once it’s handed over. And once you tell a company your details, it’s virtually impossible to get them off their system.

So the next time you’re asked to hand over your personal details when making a purchase, consider the company you’re giving them to and the many things they could use them for.