The main differences in the banking/insurance sector between SMEs and large establishments 
have to do with concerns regarding security (Figure 5). While SMEs are more concerned about 
security problems accompanying online activities, large establishments seem to be more 
venturesome or more equipped to handle the possible risks, based on sophisticated security 
mechanisms such as authentication by using PIN/TAN procedures or HBCI together with 
firewalls and intrusion detection methods. Again, the low prevalence of credit cards is viewed as 
a barrier by large establishments, while SMEs do not share this perception as strongly. It is 
difficult to interpret these differences, but possibly SMEs are not as informed about the benefits 
of e commerce or aware of the necessity to  be online  as large establishments. Another reason 
is that most credit cards are issued by large business banks rather than by small savings and loan 
banks. The usage of credit cards is therefore more important for large banks to generate revenue. 
Differences also occur in the field of organization change. The banking and insurance sector 
believes that its organization structure is better prepared on average to implement e commerce 
successfully among all firms investigated. This self assessment runs counter to the observable 
organizational difficulties today in the banking sector in Germany. 
FIGURE 5  Main Barriers of Doing Business Online in the Banking and Insurance Industry
4
All industries
SME
Large
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
Need for 
Concerns 
Customers do  Finding staff 
Prevalence of 
Costs of 
Organizational Our own level 
customer face 
about data 
not support 
with e 
credit card use implementing 
 changes 
of ability to 
to face 
security
this technology
commerce 
e commerce
needed
use the 
interaction
expertise
internet for 
business
Source. CRITO Global E Commerce Survey, 2002; sample weighted by the total number of establishments. 
DIFFUSION OF E COMMERCE 
The macroeconomic benefits of IT are already apparent in Germany, accompanied by the 
increasing usage of a great variety of ICT and e commerce technologies. In spite of the current 
slowdown in ICT investments, following overinvestment and the so called bubble burst, the 
long term benefits and structural IT related business improvements are likely to continue or even 
increase in the years to come. As a country with a relatively low ICT hardware production 
industry, Germany benefits as an importer from the falling prices of ICT goods. Although 
German industry has adopted and integrated e commerce technologies in all areas of business 
processes, it was not able to increase the productivity factor in the same way as other countries in 
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