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New study finds fear of identity theft holding back e-commerce

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New study finds fear of identity theft holding back e-commerce

A rapidly growing fear of identity theft and other online fraud is eroding confidence in e-commerce, newly published research has warned, leading to fears that e-commerce growth may soon halt.

The survey, was undertaken in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States by Momentum Research for RSA Security. It shows that, while consumers generally in each of these nations are spending more online, a significant minority is actively reducing its investment.

Online expenditure per respondent during the month of September averaged €153 (£100), with 40 per cent stating that this was higher than 12 months ago. The U.K. was found to lead the way, averaging €231 (£280) per consumer while US consumers spent the least at €129 (£155) per capita.

While overall transaction values are increasing, 16 per cent of respondents in the U.S. and 13 per cent in the UK report they are spending less than they used to. These falls, which the study attributes to fear of identity theft, are higher than those found in Germany (6 per cent) and France (9 per cent). This suggests that, for the time being, most phishing and pharming is undertaken in English in fact the research found levels of awareness of identity theft were much lower. But we do not expect this to last.

The confidence issues were found to be most pronounced in the United States . When shown eight different website types and asked if these business sectors were doing "everything necessary" to secure transactions, American respondents were less confident than the Europeans in every case. Again this reflects the vast level of spam and general internet misuse found in the US . And recent disastrous leaks of data in the US have raised reporting of the issue.

Similar results were found when the survey examined the security of personal information. A major confidence gap was revealed among U.S. consumers, with almost half stating that they have little or no confidence that several groups are taking the necessary steps. The groups cited include the government, industry alliances setting internet security standards, companies that produce computer hardware or software, ISPs and credit reporting firms.

The survey indicates that trust is the single biggest issue. And trust is something based on experience one of the interesting discoveries was the wide variance from country to country. For example, two thirds of French respondents are concerned about fraudulent access to personal information at banking and retail sites. In Germancy that figure is just 27%. For companies operating on a pan-european basis this means that consistent approaches will be very difficult to achieve if you are trying to maximize revenue and minimize cost in every country.

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