|Enough plastic money yet?
|In fact, local banks say they’ve given out ATM cards to over half their individual account clients in Jordan’s major cities.
So, theoretically, half the bank account clients in the country have some form of credit/debit payment cards in their pockets. Regrettably, VISA Electron cards are useless for online shopping. Or, at least, that’s the case so far.
On the other hand, banks have launched special Internet shopping credit cards with a limited ‘ceiling’ that give the customer a sense of security due to the separation between this credit card number and his/her other accounts and because the worst that could happen, should a hacker get this card number, is a loss of the relatively small sum earmarked for payment on this card.
In any case, it seems that the grounds for an active online shopping community in Jordan have been laid. So, why aren’t Jordanians actively engaging in online purchases? The reasons in Jordan are similar to obstacle facing Internet users anywhere else in the world, the most prominent being trust. Until Jordanian Internet users feel safe about putting their credit card number online, this practice will not take off in Jordan.
What’s more, you can’t really blame them, as the international media is full of news of credit card scams and fraud in markets that, supposedly, have very high security standards for Internet shopping. The spread of online banking and mobile banking services will make the public more aware of the safety and benefits from such interactive financial services and, along the way, encourage them to experiment with online shopping.
The banks can play a leading role in online payments by establishing debiting systems, direct to a customers account, that enable buyers to make purchases of products or service or just pay bills online. This form of secured online transfer is the first step in assuring people that money movement online is safe.
A second step is to aggressively push forward the ideas on online buying, through marketing the Internet shopping card to all clients. Given time, people will get into the habit of making online purchases. As with everything else, there is strength in numbers and there will be people who understand that, in most cases, online shopping is secure. So, with a considerable number of Internet users in Jordan, wide-spread online shopping could become a reality.
A research group, Arab Advisors, estimated that there will be 178,000 Internet users in the country by the end of 2002, a penetration of 3.33 percent. By the year 2006, they estimate that there will be half a million Jordanians online. Surely, by then, a substantial number of these users will be cyber shoppers.
We’re going to have to wait and see.
By Zeid Nasser