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China shy of e-commerce: survey

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A new study reveals Greater China's 25 million net surfers are still warming up to e-commerce, with many of them reluctant to spend online.

The survey findings from research company iamasia show only 13 percent of Hong Kong Internet users have made a transaction online. The comparable figures for China and Taiwan are 10 percent each despite growth in the number of Internet users across all three markets.

Notably, Hong Kong lags in both e-commerce penetration and attitudes toward e-commerce even though it has the second highest broadband penetration in the world after South Korea.

According to the study, two-thirds of all Internet users in Hong Kong say they are "uncomfortable" or "very uncomfortable" with spending money online. This is substantially more than in China or Taiwan.

"In Hong Kong, there are serious concerns raised by the extremely slow growth in Internet usage in the workplace and the predominantly negative perceptions held by consumers toward e-commerce," says iamasia chief executive officer Kevin Tam.

According to the study, almost 75 percent of Hong Kong net surfers say it is unlikely that they will engage in an online transaction during the next year.

Iamasia believes Hong Kong's aversion to e-commerce is a problem of perception because surfers with previous online buying experience report significantly more positive attitudes than those new to e-commerce.

On the other hand, China's nascent Internet sector has seen e-commerce penetration double in six months -- an encouraging sign for the mainland's listed portal players Sina, Sohu, and Netease who are relying more on e-commerce revenues to bolster slumping online ad sales.


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