European Internet shoppers are gradually changing their habit of frequenting U.S. merchants, according to a study commissioned by Europay International, the regional credit card association affiliated with MasterCard International Inc.

Though European cybershoppers are still making only 15% of purchases from sites within the Continent, that is up from 5% in 1997, said the study, conducted for Europay by Jupiter Communications.

The higher percentage takes on added significance because of the rapid growth in on-line commerce, Europay said. Western European volume is expected to be $1.6 billion this year and to reach $19.7 billion in 2003.

The study showed that 75% of Europeans' transactions were made with credit cards, with the rest done by debit cards, postal orders, and cash on delivery.

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