January 23, 2003, 12:00 AM

Concern about payment security stifles online shopping in Canada, Visa says

Timed to coincide with the rollout of Verified by Visa, Visa unveils a survey that shows Canadian consumers are worried about online credit card security and a near-majority says using passwords would make them more comfortable.


Although Canadian consumers are warming up to online shopping -- they doubled their amount of online holiday spending in 2002 over 2001 -- the vast majority still avoid web-based purchases out of fear of a lack of online payment security, a new study by Visa Canada reports.

"Retailers with attractive online presence have seen impressive increases in sales, as Canadians enthusiastically vote for Internet shopping," Susan MacKeown, director of Visa Canada`s e-Visa program, told a recent gathering of retailers in Toronto. "But the vast majority of shoppers in Canada remain reluctant to make online purchases, in large part because they are worried about Internet security."

Visa cardholders in Canada spent $772 million shopping online during the 2002 holiday shopping season, which Visa defines as the fourth quarter, the credit card company said. That amounted to a 103% increase over comparable period of 2001.

But a study conducted last fall for Visa by researchers Maritz: Thompson Lightstone found that 85% of Canadian credit cardholders with access to the Internet said they were unlikely to make online purchases. The leading reason respondents gave for avoiding online purchases -- cited by 25% of respondents -- was fear of fraud combined with lack of transaction security.

Among the 15% of cardholders who said they were likely to make online purchases, nearly half, or 48%, said they would be more comfortable making credit card purchases if they were asked for a password registered with their credit card bank during the transaction. In response to these concerns, Visa Canada said it and its member banks and merchants will launch this year the Verified by Visa program, which is designed to authenticate a cardholder`s identity.


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