Plastic shouldn’t be the only way to pay online

Internet connectivity in Russia is at a lower level than many other European nations and this clearly has an adverse effect on the amount of online commerce undertaken in the country.

But with only a piddling 5% of consumers purchasing goods online this is staggering low even with the unsurprisingly modest internet penetration among the Russian population. This is especially so when you consider that 58% of people in the UK buy online, 69% in Sweden and 66% in Germany, according to figures from CBRE released at the World Retail Congress 2011 in Berlin this week.

So what, you might ask. Well, the interesting bit came in a presentation at the Congress by Javier Perez, president of MasterCard in Europe, who stated that only 5% of sales made in Russia are with plastic payment cards compared with a country like the US where the level is 60%.

Now to my mind that suggests there is some obvious connection between the low level of online sales in Russia and the equally paltry credit card penetration in that country. It was rather strange therefore that in the CBRE research it was also found that only 12% of consumers surveyed stated that not having a credit card was a reason for not shopping online.

While this might not be the case in some countries it clearly is in the likes of Russia. The fact that very few people have plastic cards in that country is having a massive effect on online spending. Many people simply do not have the tools to buy online. And this is repeated in many countries.

While we are analysing the stats, we should also point out that it is something of a misnomer to suggest that 12% is a small number of people who do not have a credit card. In these increasingly straightened times retailers should recognise that it is criminal to be effectively locking out 12% of their potential customers.