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Online businesses in the UK are forecasting that revenues will grow by 36 per cent next year, according to new figures.

The figures, released by Media group Cybersource International, also show that 20m shoppers will have spent £17bn online this year, leading the group to project that by 2009 25 per cent of shopping will be conducted over the web.

However, such a boom in ecommerce has led to increasing concern among businesses over the issue of security.

Fifty six oper cent of UK respondents believe the problem of online fraud will become more serious for them in 2005, compared to 49 per cent in the U.S. In addition, due to the 60 per cent who believe online criminals are becoming more sophisticated, UK merchants are declining their orders by 6 per cent in fear of fraud.

Address verification and card security codes are currently the most widely used methods of managing online fraud in the UK. In addition, 17 per cent of respondents intend to implement more sophisticated fraud screening tools.

Nathan Jackson, Cybersource managing director, said: "75 per cent of respondents believe the successful rollout of Chip & PIN in the UK will force more fraudsters to turn their attention to online crime."

The group says that one in five UK transactions requires reviewing, but 39 per cent of businesses have no automated systems in place. Manual reviewing is labour intensive and therefore costly for businesses, especially as 28 per cent see the need to hire more staff in 2005 to handle the workload.

Mark McMurtrie, marketing director of Retail Logic, said: "Sales are projected to grow up to 36 per cent. This implies that most merchants will need to improve productivity to keep up with sales growth. Yet with each manual check requiring three minutes on average, they simply won't be able to cope with demand. Therefore, automated systems are an obvious answer."

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