With the advent of WEBTRUST™, accountants are providing assurances about online transactions to consumers who may otherwise hesitate to engage in electronic commerce. This study explores the influence of assurance services on consumers' online transaction expectations and intent to purchase online. In short, the study supports the notion that many of the marketing efforts associated with WEBTRUST™ can have desirable effects on consumer behavior. Results suggest that consumers who pay more attention to the WEBTRUST™ seal and disclosures at the web site or who have been exposed to WEBTRUST™ advertising have higher online transaction expectations and stronger intent to purchase online than their counterparts. Similarly, consumers' knowledge about CPAs positively influences their online transaction expectations, but not intent to purchase online. However, the study also indicates areas of concern for practitioners and researchers. Only 56 percent of subjects noticed the seal, 27 percent clicked on the seal, and 8.5 percent had seen ads related to WEBTRUST™, indicating a need to investigate more effective marketing. In addition, these results suggest that consumers believe the WEBTRUST™ service should and does provide assurances that are clearly beyond its scope.

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