Will Fraud Frighten Net Shoppers @ Christmas

Silicon reports there could be some good news for those of us who dread battling through the crowds to complete their Christmas shopping - the high streets could be a good deal quieter than usual this year.

Instead of swarms of shoppers hitting the shops, more people are buying gifts on the internet.

Paul Lucraft, vice president and of business services for payments firm MasterCard, said: "We are seeing a lot more transactions online. We're anticipating another big increase in online shopping. It's convenience more than anything."

Analyst Deloitte predicts a 50 per cent increase in the use of the internet for Christmas shopping this year. This figure is more than Royal Mail's prediction – it claims the UK will spend £5bn online this December, £1.5bn higher than last year's figure of £3.5bn.

To boost the confidence of online shoppers, MasterCard has introduced a two-factor authentication service called SecureCode – a pop-up box that requires a password to authorise any transactions used with MasterCard. As with an ATM, the transaction can be confirmed in seconds. Visa has a similar system and most card issuers now provide insurance in case someone loses money through online fraud.