Singapore shoppers still anxious about online security

Some 78 percent of Singaporeans shop online at least once a month, but more than half at 57 percent are concerned about their financial details falling into the wrong hands, reveals survey on e-commerce security.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Many in Singapore have expanded their shopping haven to include online stores, but they remain concerned about security breaches and are anxious their financial details would land in the wrong hands. 

Some 78 percent of consumers in the country would shop online at least once a month, with 66 percent spending more than S$100 (US$80.24) over the past three months, revealed a survey commissioned by e-payment provider PayPal. In addition, 55 percent chose to do their online shopping via their mobile devices at least once monthly. Conducted by GfK, the survey polled 1,020 respondents in Singapore aged 18 to 45, who had shopped online in the last six months. 

Despite their affinity for e-commerce, shoppers here expressed concerns about security breaches. Some 57 percent of respondents said they were most anxious about their financial details falling into the hands of cybercriminals, while 20 percent said they were apprehensive about sharing credit card details with websites they had not visited before. Another 11 percent expressed anxiety over not getting what they ordered online, and 7 percent were concerned about receiving damaged goods. 

Among the respondents in Singapore, however, only 9 percent said they had encountered some form of fraudulent activity while shopping online. About 36 percent said they had received damaged goods or not received any items at all after paying for them online. 

Concerns about online security escalated when overseas websites were involved, with 89 percent of respondents saying they would be more anxious about buying from these retailers than local sites. Regardless of such worries, 55 percent indicated that international websites accounted for more than 25 percent of their online shopping.

Some 62 percent of respondents were more at ease with buying digital goods, compared to 54 percent when purchasing physical goods from websites. 

So what do online shoppers in Singapore turn to for ease of mind? The survey revealed that 69 percent would use reputable and trusted payment methods to mitigate online risks, while 66 percent said they would check online and social media for feedback on the e-retailers before buying from them. Another 61 percent would review the website's customer protection policies in dealing with unauthorized transactions, damaged or undelivered products.

The more cautious, 52 percent of respondents, would feel more comfortable buying from websites that didn't require shoppers to provide their credit card details.

Rahul Shinghal, PayPal's country manager for Southeast Asia, said in a statement: "It is interesting to see that while the majority of online shoppers in Singapore have not encountered fraud, there remains a deep concern about becoming a victim of cybercrime. This is something we must address so that online shoppers do not need to hold back on making purchases online due to security fears, which stifles the potential for e-commerce to grow."

According to PayPal, Singapore's e-commerce market is projected to be worth S$4.4 billion (US$3.53 billion) by 2015. 

A corresponding survey in the country's northernly neighbor, Malaysia, revealed similar findings where 73 percent of respondents shopped online at least once monthly, spending at least 200 ringgit (US$62.56) over the past three months. Some 46 percent would shop via their mobile devices at least once a month. 

Also conducted by GfK, the survey polled 1,020 Malaysian respondents aged between 18 and 45 who bought goods online in the last six months. 

Like those in Singapore, respondents in Malaysia were also concerned about security, with 58 percent worried about their financial details landing in the hands of cybercriminals. Another 23 percent were anxious about having to divulge their credit card information with websites they had not visited before, while 9 percent were concerned about not getting what they ordered. Some 6 percent were worried about receiving damaged goods, revealed the PayPal survey, which noted that Malaysia's e-commerce market is projected to hit 5.76 billion ringgit (US$1.8 billion) by 2015. 

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