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Europe set to overshadow US for e-commerce

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Europe has the potential to overtake the US and become the largest Internet trading centre in the world, according to analysts at Fletcher Research. In a report published today, Fletcher claims that 121 million Europeans will be spending EUR17 billion (£11.3 billion) online by 2004. Net users in Germany and the UK will dominate the market accounting for more than half of all adults online. But with credit card use in Germany currently hovering at around 12 per cent, e-commerce suppliers will have to develop new payment methods to get round the problem. The authors of Internet Europe: Connecting the Consumer warn that unlike Europe's "single market" the virtual marketplace in Europe will be fragmented and not just a single "honey pot". "Europe has the potential to become a larger Internet market than the USA, but the complexity of creating successful Internet business models across the continent will mean the marketplace will develop very differently," said Caroline Sceats, Business Analyst, Fletcher Research. "Established off-line businesses have a real advantage in Europe, they have the corporate funding and local distribution channels to set up Internet businesses with truly localised services. Providing a one-size fits all solution just won't be enough to compete effectively," she said. Key findings of Internet Europe * Fletcher forecasts that 121 million adults in western Europe will be online by 2004 -- a growth of almost 400 per cent in five years. * Countries will use the Net in different ways depending on what technology they use. Italians and Scandinavians will use wireless connectivity through mobile phones, Benelux consumers will use digital TV and cable access. * Leading Net companies Europe are more likely to be existing brands rather than start-ups from nowhere. * European Net users rate convenience and product information more highly than price when shopping online. * Operating costs in Europe will be higher. To reach two thirds of Europeans online in their mother-tongue a Web site needs to be translated into five different languages. ®

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