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The effect of WebTrust on the perceived trustworthiness of a Web site and the utilization of electronic commerce

Kristin S Portz, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite the explosive growth of electronic commerce, many individuals are still reluctant to conduct business transactions on the Internet. Individuals may mistrust sending private information over the Internet or they may have concerns about the existence, performance, standing, and integrity of online businesses. In direct response to these concerns, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has developed an electronic commerce assurance service called WebTrust which is intended to improve the consumer's confidence in the process and the quality of information disclosed on vendor web sites. Although the intent of a WebTrust audit is to increase consumer trust and reduce concerns about doing business online, the effectiveness of WebTrust on utilization of electronic commerce has yet to be empirically tested. Thus the purpose of this study is to shed light on the effectiveness of WebTrust by examining the influence of WebTrust on consumers' perceptions of a web site's trustworthiness and to determine if higher perceptions of trustworthiness increases consumers' willingness to purchase a product online. These questions are investigated through a computer experiment. ^ The results of this study are very encouraging for electronic commerce assurance services in general, and the WebTrust service in particular. Evidence is found that the presence of WebTrust on a web site has a positive impact on the perceived trustworthiness of the web site. The results also show that knowledge of WebTrust plays a significant moderating role in the relationship between perceived trustworthiness and the presence of WebTrust. When subjects have prior knowledge of WebTrust they perceive a web site with WebTrust to be more trustworthy than a web site without whereas, the presence of WebTrust has no impact when subjects are uneducated about the WebTrust assurances. Also, when WebTrust is present, subjects with knowledge of WebTrust are more confident in the web site than those without knowledge of WebTrust. When WebTrust is not present, knowledge subjects are more unsure of a web site without WebTrust than those without knowledge. Finally, overall perceived trustworthiness of a web site is found to be a key determinant of intention to utilize electronic commerce. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Accounting|Mass Communications

Recommended Citation

Portz, Kristin S, "The effect of WebTrust on the perceived trustworthiness of a Web site and the utilization of electronic commerce" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9977012.