Online Consumer Confidence Still Lacking

According to a Treasury report released earlier this month, Australian consumers are still reluctant to trade online. The report, released as part of the Department of Treasury's Summer 2000 Economic Roundup, said consumer confidence in online shopping was being hampered by set-up costs, lack of trust, and security and certification issues.

"A number of inhibitors, primarily the difficulties in establishing trust between retailers and consumers, will clearly reduce consumer confidence and hinder the uptake of electronic commerce," the report said.

According to a spokeswoman from the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Treasury, no single issue is the main hindrance to the uptake. " We understand all those concerns are pretty serious and are interrelated . . . we don't want to talk about a number one [inhibitor], they are all working together."

However, despite the slow uptake of e-commerce, consumers continue to access the Internet for information and online window shopping at an increasing rate, the spokeswoman said.

"We understand there is a lot of comparison shopping online even if they purchase the goods offline. Of course, consumers may be using the Internet for online share trading, financial servicesand banking, although Consumer Affairs has not done specific research in these areas," she said.

According to the spokeswoman, the Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, the Hon Joe Hockey, is expected to release the policy document guidelines on e-commerce soon, but an exact release date is unknown.

Responses to the second draft of the report, titled Building consumer confidence, a best practice model for business, are currently being reviewed by Treasury, she said.

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