Visa Canada is forecasting a strong online Christmas shopping season with sales exceeding C$1 billion.
Visa Canada says it processed 3 million online transactions during the 2001 holiday season and expects to process more than 5 million this year, with an estimated transaction size of $126.
Statistics Canada recently estimated that 2.2 million households spent almost C$2 billion shopping on the Internet in 2001, placing 13.4 million orders online.
Susan MacKeown, director e-Visa, Visa Canada, says the figures match the levels of online growth experienced so far in 2002: "Based on our numbers, we expect the 2002 holiday season will be a healthy year for online retailers and overall we expect robust Internet sales on Visa cards to total C$2.1 billion this year."
While Canadians will be spending more online, concerns about security remain one of the largest barriers to the wide-scale adoption of online retailing. According to Visa Canada, more than 80 per cent of online retailers believe that sales would increase if shoppers were more confident about security.
Visa's Account Information Security (AIS) programme and the Verified by Visa scheme address concerns about the protection of cardholder data and the authentication of parties involved in an online payments transaction.
"With these types of programmes in place, Canadians should feel comfortable buying online," says Kevin Wasslen, director, risk and security, Visa Canada. "Additionally, if a cardholder did experience fraud either online or in the physical world, Visa has a zero liability policy that eliminates cardholder liability for fraudulent use of their credit card."
Despite customer anxiety about the security of online payments, Visa Canada says that Internet fraud represents only 5 per cent of its total fraud losses.