Cyberconsumers may be getting over their reluctance to use credit card
numbers over the Internet, according to a survey released by
at the Web Marketplace conference in Chicago this week.
Only 19 percent of Internet users are shopping online, but
would like to, according to the survey, which was based on 1,000 random phone interviews
with adult Internet users late last year. Of those who are shopping, 64 percent send their credit card numbers over the Net. The rest opt
for other means of payment, including checks via mail or credit cards by phone.
Some observers believe that the survey shows that users are getting over their
fears of Net security breaches, or at least putting them in perspective.
"When you give your credit card number to an operator at an 800 [phone]
line, you're basically trusting someone you've never met and a company
you've never heard of," said Chris Jennewein, director of the Knight-Ridder New Media Center and former general manager of the
Mercury Center, the
fee-based online version of the San Jose Mercury News newspaper. "The risk is small,
relative to the reward. The same
is true of the Internet. Sending a credit card number through a secure
browser is certainly as safe as giving your number over an
The Mercury Center itself, however, does not yet allow subscribers to send
credit card information via the Web site and employees complete company transactions by sending credit card numbers via overnight
delivery service instead of the Web, according to a Mercury Center employee who asked not to be named.
Whatever the truth about Net security, the survey may show a changing perception of the safety of electronic commerce. "A lot of people believe the
Internet is no more dangerous than phone lines," said Dan
Campbell of Find/SVP's Emerging Technologies Research group.
Of those who are shopping online, 46 percent of customers are buying software, 23 percent computer hardware, 22 percent books, and 16
Online shopping: future or flop?
Is the Net secure?