1998 a Slow Year For Spanish E-Commerce

Thousands of Spaniards rushed into cyberspace in
1998, but they left their pocketbooks behind. Though Spain saw an
increasingly wired population last year, users shied away from electronic
commerce.


“1998 was the great awakening for e-commerce in Europe, but still,
unfortunately, not in Spain,” said Rodolfo Carpentier, president of
CommerceNet Spain. “We’re well above the European average in Internet use,
yet we’re below average in electronic commerce.”


Spain saw more than $22 million in electronic transactions last
year, which is “truly ridiculous when you consider that we’re talking about
two million users,” said Carpentier.


Spain’s population is nearly 40 million. Roughly 2.3 million Spaniards
currently have Internet access. While at least 600,000 are daily users,
some 1.7 million are considered “habitual users.”


According to CommerceNet, “less than 5 percent” of these users are
engaging in e-commerce. This pales before the 20 percent rate touted
for Japanese users.


“We’re in the area where Germany is in terms of percentage of people with
Net access, but we’re unfortunately not up to par in e-commerce,” said
Carpentier.


One of the main barriers to e-commerce growth was the perceived lack of
security in electronic transactions. In November, however, Spain adopted
the SET certification system, which was widely regarded as the catalyst for
increased electronic commerce.


In some cases, American companies beat Spanish companies in what could
clearly be considered their home turf. Ironically, said Carpentier, the
largest online purveyor of books to Spanish consumers was not a Spanish
company, but rather the US-based Amazon.com.


According to CommerceNet, there are approximately 50,000 Spanish companies
with web pages. Such figure are nonetheless difficult to gauge, considering
that in addition to the “.es” domain, many Spanish companies also use the
“.com” and “.net” domains.

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