August 18, 2003, 12:00 AM

After peaking in 2000, consumer faith in online card security dips

With more mainstream buyers and news of security breaches, shoppers’ confidence in online card safety is less, Forrester Research says. “Cautious e-commerce participants aren’t nearly as enamored of the web as the early-adopters,” Forrester says.

After a period of rising consumer confidence about the safety and security of putting credit card information online, that confidence has recently dropped, according to new findings from Forrester Research Inc.

After peaking in 2000, web shoppers’ belief in the security of credit card information online has dropped slightly, with nearly one-third of online consumers currently characterized by Forrester as "technology pessimists,” compared with only 16% in 1998. Only 8% of shoppers categorized as technology pessimists believe credit card information is very secure online, compared with 20% of technology optimists.

The numbers are shifting as online shopping moves beyond the pool of early technology adopters and becomes more mainstream, Forrester says. “These cautious e-commerce participants aren’t nearly as enamored of the web as their early-adopter counterparts were,” says Forrester analyst Chris Kelley. As a result, each event such as a news story about an online security breach causes shoppers in this group to question online credit card security and reconsider online purchases, he adds.

Forrester has predicted that the convenience of shopping on the web will nevertheless drive significant growth in online retail going forward. But to fully realize those growth projections, online retailers and card issuers will have to take more measures to beef up site security and offer zero liability for fraudulent online transactions, Forrester says.

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