Digital Content

Banking and shopping online saw the largest increases for Internet usage in SA last year, says survey firm Webchek.

Webchek, a division of Cape Town-based Research Surveys, completed its seventh annual South African Web user survey in November. The survey polls 400 randomly selected users around the country, giving a 95% confidence in the sample to measure Internet usage trends.

Sandra Boer, Research Surveys director and Webchek head, says the advent of online airline ticket sales boosted interest in Internet shopping. Some 41% of the sample who access the Web at least once a month have bought online before, which is a 26% increase since 2000.

Of the people who have bought goods online, 23% have done so only once, 16% twice, 31% three to five times and a further 30% have bought more than five times. More males have bought online than females and 90% of those who have shopped online would do so again. Credit cards remain the preferred method of payment.

Internet banking has seen substantial increases, according to the survey. In 2004, 47% of the sample used online banking facilities compared to 36% the year before and 34% in 2002.

The Webchek survey confirms that the Internet is no longer perceived as being the playground for techno-geeks, but rather has become more of a ‘man-in-the-street' information tool.

The number of days on which the Internet is accessed is slightly up among home users - to 16.3 days per month in 2004 compared with 14.5 days the previous year. At work, the Internet is accessed 17.4 days a month on average, which is considered consistent with previous years.

Other findings are that a higher number of older (over 55) users are accessing the Internet, more English-speaking people than in previous years, and more people with children at home. The ratio of people working in the computer industry compared to other work categories has declined.