March 14, 2002, 12:00 AM

Consumers like PINs more than passwords for e-payment security, study says

49% of consumers surveyed would be willing to type in a personal identification number along with card information to secure online transactions, says a Jupiter study. Only 32% liked the idea of an assigned password.

Inadequate authentication processes and systems for the use of credit cards online are hampering e-commerce, concludes a recent report from Jupiter Media Metrix Inc..

In the ongoing quest for securing payments on the Internet, passwords and home card-reading devices flunk with consumers, Jupiter says. Nearly half of consumers surveyed--49%--said they’d be willing to type in a personal identification number along with the card information--much as they do at an ATM or a store debit-card reader. But only 32% liked the idea of an assigned password and only 18% said they’d be willing to swipe credit cards or smart cards through special readers attached to their computer terminals. At the bottom of consumer preferences at 14% was the idea of supplying their mother’s maiden name, a traditional means of identification in the offline world.

Consumers are clearly concerned about online fraudulent use of their cards, though. The survey said that 80% would be wiling to undertake an additional step to secure their online transactions.

Whether the PIN idea would actually work is another question, since Jupiter says companies are already spending too much money to help users retrieve forgotten passwords. About 21% of companies recently surveyed by Jupiter said that between 11% and 20% of their customer service inquiries involved forgotten password inquiries. Yet only 35% allow consumers to create password reminders or online challenge responses to help themselves remember.

Forgotten passwords open the door to “soft fraud” when users unable to retrieve passwords simply create multiple new accounts and take advantage of offers technically available only to first-time users. One retailer interviewed by Jupiter said that some customers had created new accounts as many as seven times on its site before it started logging in returning customers automatically via cookies.

“Data clearly reveal that password reminders and additional challenge response security measures were vastly underused and would serve to preempt many customer service quires currently initiated by users,” says Jupiter analyst Rob Leathern.


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