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Consumer trust and distrust: retaining paper bills in online banking

Joanne McNeish (Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of paper bills and statements in online and mobile banking and how they may serve to support trust along with mitigating distrust for consumers when dealing with banks and billing firms.


A two-phase study with 208 Canadian online bill payers. Phase 1 verified the comprehension of the measurement items being tested. In Phase 2, exploratory factor analysis was used to determine the factor structure. Regression analysis was used to identify the relationship of the factors with the intention to continuing receiving paper bills.


Four factors for trust and distrust were identified in this study of which two (structural assurance and counted on to help) plus subjective norm predict the intention to continue receiving paper bills.

Research limitations/implications

Trust and distrust are shown to co-exist in this study. Consumers feel vulnerable to the risks inherent in online financial interactions, but signal their willingness to trust by adopting online and mobile banking. Consumers mitigate the distrust they have in banks and billing firms by continuing to receive paper bills and statements. This study is limited to paper bills and statements. The role of other paper documents in customer relationship management is worthy of further exploration.

Practical implications

This research investigates the role of financial documents in the consumer-firm relationship. This study suggests that paper bills are a communication method that supports consumers’ trust in the banks and billing firms and their adoption of online and mobile banking. Banks and billing firms’ continued emphasis on consumers’ giving up paper bills while insisting on original paper documentation in problem resolution situations, sends mixed messages to consumers, which heightens their distrust in these firms.


This is the first study to suggest that paper bills and statements have a role in influencing trust or distrust of banks and billing firms.



McNeish, J. (2015), "Consumer trust and distrust: retaining paper bills in online banking", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 5-22.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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