The e-commerce industry looks to be one of the few which have not shown much weakness throughout the economic turmoil in Europe and across the world. But the Ecommerce of Europe, an association representing companies selling products and/or services to consumers in Europe, has warned that more work needs to be done to ensure that this positive trend continues well into the future.
Wijnand Jongen, a representative of the association, has recently stressed that the payments industry will need to work together in order to ensure that consumers across the Union are able to pay for goods online easily and securely. He says that the lack of a universal solution is already hurting businesses and that the problem will only become worse with time.
He said: "One of the biggest bottlenecks for online retailers in Europe is the lack of cross-border payment solutions. Especially the ones based on online banking. Simply not enough consumers can pay this way. Innovation is key. In the field of payment solutions, Europe is still a complete hodgepodge, when it comes to non-card payments, despite the fact that forming a common internal market is actually one of the most important objectives of the European Union. Internet usage and online sales are, by definition, cross-border activities. The least one might expect of Europe is that they provide an environment in which cross-border payment systems can flourish."
These are strong words but one can hardly argue with his assessment. The European Central Bank certainly agrees and has recently launched a consultation on the "Recommendations for the security of internet payments" paper put together by the European Forum on the Security of Retail Payments. The thinking behind this initiative is that having a more integrated system across the Union will not only make it easier for shoppers to buy goods but will also be beneficial to their security.
Jongen stressed that by consolidating the payments options will result in a more profitable market. He said: "Having numerous efficient payment solutions with large consumer reach would be in the interest of both online retailers and consumers. It would help boosting e-commerce in Europe."
He also added: "The availability of massively available secure payment methods that fulfil consumers' needs will ensure that interested consumers actually start purchasing products and services online. It will result in conversion which is crucial to the growth of online retail in Europe."
Businesses simply cannot go it alone and the more banks and payment providers that try to come up with unique payment solutions the more fragmented the market will become, making it even harder for consumers. Shoppers already have an easy access to online stores across the EU, what they really need now is a unified and simplified choice of secure internet payment options. This scenario will need to be delivered fairly soon, before the confidence in the e-commerce market begins to diminish.
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