Emerging Asian economies trust the internet more than developed countries

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A new report shows a huge divide in internet trust among Asian countries, with some of the region’s most advanced economies proving the most skeptical.

The 24-country survey, conducted between December 2016 and March 2017 by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Ipsos in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Internet Society, polled internet users from around the world on their online behaviors and levels of trust in the internet.

India and China were near the top of global rankings for digital confidence, with 72 percent and 71 percent of respondents respectively expressing that they trust the internet overall. This is substantially above the worldwide average of 56 percent and the U.S. at 53 percent.

At the bottom of the trust rankings were two of the region’s most advanced economies: South Korea, with only 34 percent expressing trust in the internet, and Japan with just 32 percent. They shared the bottom of the list with two G-8 countries: France and Germany.

Higher levels of trust were often correlated with a greater tendency to conduct online transactions, and lack of trust (as opposed to issues related to expense, access, or convenience) was the most commonly cited reason for users to avoid online purchases.

In addition, 86 percent of respondents in both China and India reported that they were likely to make an online payment with a mobile device within the next year, compared with only 29 percent in Japan. Asia’s third most populous country, Indonesia, topped the global list with 95 percent reporting that they’d take advantage of mobile payment in the next 12 months. China and India also lead the world in frequency of online purchases, according to the report.

“Nearly 50 percent of Internet users surveyed do not trust the Internet and this lack of trust is affecting the way they use it,” said Sally Wentworth, vice president of global policy for the Internet Society, in a UNCTAD press release. “The findings of this year’s CIGI-Ipsos survey underscore the importance of taking action now to build stronger online trust by addressing users’ concerns and using technologies such as encryption to secure communications.”