Fraud levels hardly rose, outpaced by genuine consumer buying sentiments.

With the well-known global surge in e-commerce due to the pandemic, and the year-end sales galore racking up record sales, hard figures are slowly trickling in.

New benchmark data from ACI Worldwide revealed a 24% increase in e-commerce transactions globally in December 2020 on year. In particular, the e-retail sector increased 31% and the e-gaming sector increased 90%.

While many merchants initially implemented the buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) delivery channel during the pandemic, those that already had this option available before the pandemic experienced an increase of 70% by volume and 58% by value in 2020. However, BOPIS fraud has also seen a big increase, with a 7% fraud attempt rate compared to 4.6% with other delivery channels.

Key findings

Here are some e-commerce purchasing trends discerned from the data:

  • December 2020
    • Travel and ticketing continued to see a significant dip in December due to the pandemic, declining 27% and 76% respectively.
    • Transactions in the gaming sector increased 90%.
  • In Q4 2020, global e-commerce transactions increased 22% on year
  • January – December 2020
    • Global e-commerce transactions increased by 19% on year.
    • The UK saw an increase in transactions of 28% and the US 14% (from January through December 2020) compared to the same period in 2019.
    • The gaming sector increased 84% from January to December 2020 on year.
    • The retail sector increased 48% from January to December 2020 on year.
  • Fraud trends
    The fraudulent-attempt purchase value decreased by US$10 in 2020 on year; this was the impact of airline, sporting event and concert ticket purchase declines, which have a high average ticket price. Average value of genuine purchases decreased by US$18​.

    Fraud attempt rates by value increased slightly by 0.2% to 3.4%, similar to prior holiday seasons, as a result of increased genuine consumer spending outpacing fraud.

Rise in non-fraud chargebacks

Said the firm’s Executive Vice President, Debbie Guerra: “In 2020, we saw the pandemic drive the highest number of merchants implementing the BOPIS delivery channel for the first time in one year. We expect this channel to increase as more consumers get used to the convenience of shopping at home and the speed of in-store pickup. However, this is also a channel to watch closely for fraud, as these same benefits appeal to fraudsters.” 

ACI’s data also showed that non-fraud chargebacks had increased 26% in December 2020 on year, driven by shipment delays over the holiday period. “Non-fraud chargebacks continued to rise since the low that was experienced in April 2020,” Guerra continued. “Similar to prior years, porch pirates were active in 2020, which impacted the increase in non-fraud chargebacks as fraudsters follow delivery trucks. In addition, shipment delays consumers experienced over the holiday period, as well as a backlog of returns processing and product back orders, have also contributed to the increase in non-fraud chargebacks.”

Note that, as chargebacks take approximately 45 days to process, the most current complete data is from November 2020.