Could the resistance to paid online content come from a lack of payment alternatives? According to a collaborative survey from Javelin Strategy & Research, eContent Magazine and PaymentOne, 61 percent of the participants said they would be more likely to make online content purchases if there were an easy and secure alternative to the credit card.

"Online content and service providers clearly need to do more to satisfy the concerns of consumers about online payment if they hope to continue to grow their revenues and customer bases," said Joe Lynam, president and CEO of PaymentOne.

Lynam believes that the implementation of new consumer-friendly payment options may well be the single most important step providers can take to better monetize their products and services.

Of the more that 10,000 that were surveyed, 59 percent had purchased Internet services or online content at least once. When consumers who have not made online purchases were asked what would persuade them to buy online content, 53 percent cited more secure payment options. Payment security was chosen over price or product-related responses by more than a 2-1 margin.

More than half (52 percent) of the respondents indicated that they were willing to pay for classified ads; 12 percent were willing to pay for Internet news; 11 percent for music; and 11 percent for games.

With 83 percent of online users having credit cards, according to Jupiter Research (a unit of this site's corporate parent), creating an alternative payment method that is universally accepted will prove to be a difficult task.

Jupiter suggests that retailers improve internal credit card payment security before adding new payment alternatives and allay consumers' misperceptions by marketing the existing protections consumers have available when using credit cards online.

Consumer Comfort Level Using
Various Payment Methods, March 2003
  Comfortable Uncomfortable
Billed later 68% 18%
Credit card 55% 27%
Debit card 32% 49%
Checking account 25% 57%
Debit with PIN 20% 66%
Base: 2,773 (U.S. only)
Source: Jupiter Research