These days more and more purchases require online payment. Paying online is more convenient for the purchaser and better for the profit margins of the seller. But the media is full of horror stories about a cybercrime underworld that preys on hapless online shoppers using techniques like phishing, identity theft, hacking, and data theft. Estimates of the global value of cybercrimes vary enormously ranging from $450 billion a year to $2 trillion a year – and growing.

These are sensational numbers that make most consumers wary about flashing their cash on the internet, but just how many South African consumers make payments online and how wary are they?

According to the Online shopping survey (n = 11828) 59% of economically active South Africans have ever made a payment online – regularly: 13%; occasionally: 30%; hardly ever: 16%. So 41% have never made an online payment.

Of those who have made an online payment only 38% feel very or quite comfortable about it, with rest feeling unsure (28%), not very comfortable (25%) and not at all comfortable (9%). So a very large portion are fearful about making online payments even though they do it.

Consumers need strong assurances from a vendor that the payment system is impenetrable by cybercriminals. This is really important. Also, consumers are far more likely to feel comfortable shopping from vendors who have been around a long time and have physical stores that they know they can visit at any time.