Europeans still wary of online card payments

Continental Europeans are still largely reluctant to use credit cards for electronic-commerce payment, compared to US and UK consumers, according to a German credit card processing house.

          Continental Europeans are still largely reluctant to use credit cards for electronic-commerce payment, compared to US and UK consumers, according to a German credit card processing house.

          Over the past year, the volume of e-commerce transactions processed by B+S Card Services GmbH doubled to some 80 million marks (US$36.6 million), a spokesman for the company said. But he said the number of transactions in continental Europe is still lagging "behind expectations." The company chalks the slow growth up to customers' lack of trust in online payment, despite security measures taken by providers.

          B+S, one of several companies that process card transactions in Germany, requires its business customers to encrypt credit card data transmitted over the Web. But German customers frequently prefer to submit credit card information by fax or phone, to pay via postal C.O.D. (cash on delivery), or to use electronic bank transfer, the company said.

          Other online payment options are starting to hit the European market. Last month, financial services company ING Groep NV announced plans to team with Internet payment services company PayPal.com to expand e-mail payment services in Europe. PayPal allows users to send payments via e-mail, which are then charged to a credit card or directly debited from their bank account.

          With backing from banks including France's Caisse nationale de Crédit Agricole and Germany's Deutsche Bank AG, the privately held company has ambitions to expand its services internationally; it already has more than 4.5 million customers in the U.S., the company said in a statement.

          "It's a bit more complicated in Europe because of the different countries, also because in Europe you need a banking license to do it (unlike in the US)," said ING spokeswoman Manel Vryenhoek. "I think from now on it will take approximately six months (to implement the service in Europe), if everything works out."

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