Despite the growing popularity of the internet and e-commerce, many UK surfers are still too worried about online security to take the plunge and begin shopping online.
Research from Visa Europe found that one in five internet users has never made an online purchase, and of those who do shop online almost 70 per cent believe that e-tailers should do more to make them feel secure.
Over half of those surfers who have not shopped online cited concerns about using their credit cards on the web.
Over a third of online purchasing virgins confessed to having an "irrational fear" of the internet, while 35 per cent admitted that they do not know how to make a purchase online.
Web users suggested that this fear could be overcome with better protection and increased security, and 58 per cent think that online shopping could be safer and would shop more online if it were.
Even existing online shoppers indicated that they have concerns about the safety of e-commerce, with one in five only buying over the internet as a last resort.
Two thirds of internet users believe it is not safe to give credit card details online, and 15 per cent claim to know of someone who has had their credit card details misused online.
Visa has launched a password-protected online payment card system, Verified by Visa, which aims to guarantee cardholder identity when shopping online.
The system requires the cardholder to provide a personal password when paying for goods online with their Visa card, similar to using a signature on the high street.
Dr Cynthia McVey, a psychologist at Glasgow University, and co author of the Visa Europe report, insisted that online shoppers had to be reassured that safeguards are in place.
"The anxieties arise from the feeling that we are not as intimately involved in the purchase as we are when standing at the counter," she said in a statement.
"There is no real basis for the fear of being defrauded. A fear of shopping on the web is really a fear of computer technology generally. It also reflects a general fear of the unknown."
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