Some car buyers still hold doubts over the integrity of the internet but a new initiative launched by the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) could give those consumers the confidence to share information and make online transactions.
The new scheme, Web Trust, acts like the traditional Kitemark as a stamp of authority for 'e-traders' such as car dealers. To qualify, websites must undergo a rigorous audit by independent chartered accountants.
The ICA trains and licenses member firms to appraise websites before granting authorisation to display the Web Trust seal. The initiative has three main principles: business and information privacy, transaction integrity and information protection. If dealers subsequently make major changes to the site, Web Trust must be informed.
Each site is reviewed every 90 days to ensure it is adhering to Web Trust guidelines. According to the ICA, the principle of 'active policing' is what distinguishes it from other schemes. If Web Trust is not satisfied with the e-trader's operations, it can revoke the seal on the spot.
Chris Howard, ICA director of assurance services and strategy, said: "Public confidence in online trading is fundamental to the development of e-commerce. With the recent proliferation of security breaches and dotcom collapses, successful e-businesses are increasingly turning to internet seals to provide independent assurance to the consumer of their integrity."