Trust in Online Finansial Services: A Research of Trust Formation in Financial Firms in the Digital Era

Kathrine Hvid Nesevski & Christian Lindstrøm Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The global financial crisis has had a sustained impact on societal trust in finance. Consequently, financial firms worldwide are still suffering from a lack of trust from consumers (Stein, 2018), which is paramount in the digital era where face-to-face encounters are limited and information sharing is out of control (Shepherd, 2004). Former empirical evidence has identified six attributes that empower a trustworthy perception (Hurley et al., 2014a; 2014b), and that a trustworthy perception mediates trusting beliefs online (Yu et al., 2015). Consequently, trustworthiness can be enabled by demonstrating the six attributes and doing so online, will depend on the consumers’ interpretation of a financial firm’s online presence. Thus, this study aims to determine the underlying means of the six attributes in context to online financial services from a consumer-driven perspective. Building on existing research on trust in finance, it asks: How can financial firms demonstrate the six trust enhancing attributes online to increase consumers’ perceived level of their trustworthiness?
Based on a review of the literature concerning trust in finance, an exploratory mixed method approach to study financial retail consumers was undertaken using three focus group interviews to generate findings. The findings from the focus group were used to construct an online questionnaire. Moreover, a case study was conducted of a US-based online-only bank for the purpose to collect evidence from an applied context. Analysis of the findings demonstrated many underlying means of the six attributes. The results suggest that the identified underlying means can increase consumers trusting beliefs about financial firms. On this basis, it is proposed for financial firms to increase consumers trusting beliefs by demonstrating the discovered underlying means of the six attributes online. Moreover, the managerial implications from this study also suggest that financial firms should ensure relevance between operations in order to increase consumers’ perceived level of their trustworthiness.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages135