‘Consumer protection solution to declining trust in e-commerce’

A new global survey has revealed that Internet users are increasingly concerned about their online privacy, as 49 percent of users polled attribute their discontinuation of online shopping on lack of trust.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Internet Society, comes as data breaches and the reported hacking of elections in several European countries continues to capture international headlines.

The survey results suggest that the resulting impact on trust is hindering further development of the digital economy and can be addressed through adequate consumer and data protection.

In Nigeria, the activities of some online shoppers who turned themselves into killers are currently troubling the e-commerce sub-sector of the nation. Online businesses are estimated to be worth $10 billion (about N3.06 trillion) in the country.

Stakeholders’ anxiety is coming on the heels of two incidents involving the killing of a Jumia agent and UBER driver in Rivers and Lagos states. The incidents have triggered the need for better security in online services in the country. Market observers hold that the situation, if not given quick attention, may threaten the growth of the sub-sector.

They have also called for concerted efforts, including a better push for the nation’s cashless policy as well as faster implementation of the national identity card scheme.

The latest report which was released on Monday at the UNCTAD E-Commerce Week in Geneva, the 2017 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security & Trust shows that among those worried about their privacy, the top sources of concern were cybercriminals (82%), Internet companies (74%) and governments (65%).

“The lifeblood of the Internet is trust, and when that is damaged, the consequences for the digital economy are nearly irreparable,” said Director of CIGI’s Global Security and Politics program Fen Osler Hampson.

“The results of this global survey offer a glimpse into why policymakers should be concerned, and why there is a strong link between user trust and the health of e-commerce,” he said.

Lack of trust is most likely to keep people off e-commerce platforms in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, suggesting that the potential gains of e-commerce are not spread evenly around the globe.

The survey also revealed great differences in e-commerce behaviour when it came to how users are purchasing goods online. For instance, in China, India and Indonesia, more than 86 percent of respondents expect to make mobile payments on their smartphone in the next year, compared with less than 30 percent in France, Germany and Japan.

Even in the digital world, location still matters. Fifty-five percent of global respondents indicated that they prefer purchasing online goods and services made in their own country.

“The survey confirms the importance of having adequate consumer protection and data protection in place, areas where many developing countries are lagging behind,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Technology and Logistics. “More capacity-building is therefore urgently needed,” she added.

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