Hutchison Whampoa

Credit card worries curb Web buying

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 12:00am


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Hong Kong's Internet surfers are more worried about credit card security than users overseas, opting to browse online then buy from shops rather than order off the Web, research released yesterday shows.

About 42 per cent of local households have Internet access - one of the highest rates in the world - but only seven per cent of those online are buying from cyber-shops, a much lower rate than the world average.

Market research company Taylor Nelson Sofres, which compared Hong Kong people's habits with those in 26 other countries, said the findings showed there was an enormous untapped market of potential online shoppers here.

Spokesman Chan Chi-wing said Hong Kong was placed sixth of all the countries ranked in terms of household access to the Net. But security fears meant that while 10 per cent of the world's Web users - and 27 per cent in the US - shopped online, only seven per cent in Hong Kong did.

'Even if they're ordering online, most of them are still paying by traditional methods, like cash-on-delivery or by cheque rather than credit card,' Mr Chan said. 'This shows people are concerned about releasing their information online.'

He said Hong Kong people used the Internet as a source of information when considering making a purchase, then went to a traditional shop to buy. More than one-third of local Net users said they did this, the highest number of all the countries surveyed.

Taylor Nelson Sofres Hong Kong managing director Wander Meijer said people were reluctant to divulge personal data over the Internet because the technology had only recently become popular in the SAR and users had to get used to it. 'We will see a lot of changes in the next year . . . and in a few years the Internet will be almost as common as the television and telephone. Almost everybody will have an Internet connection,' he said.

'We're now on the verge of making a big leap forward - people know now you can buy safely through the Internet. When we first had automatic teller machines it took a while before people accepted them, but once they were accepted, everybody started using ATMs. It will be the same with the Internet.'

Online supermarkets proved the most popular with Hong Kong Net users, with 32 per cent of online shoppers saying they had used them, a far higher number than overseas. Wellcome, ParknShop and new player adMart have been heavily promoting their 'cyberstores' and delivery services for the past year.

Other popular online purchases included books, furniture, toys and games, cinema tickets, toiletries and cosmetics. Plane tickets and stocks were less favoured.

More than 32,000 people were interviewed worldwide for the study, conducted between April and June. About 1,000 were in Hong Kong.