Towards Digital Communication and Transaction: An Inquiry into the Individuals' Internet Acceptance and Usage Behavior in Bangladesh

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INTRODUCTION

In past few years the seemingly increasing rate of usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has reshaped the global socio-economic and business environment and made changes in the pattern of personal, social and business communication. The world's shift towards the digital culture, from the traditional way of transaction and communication, creates enormous research opportunities in the IS domain and also in the multidisciplinary fields of studies to look at the adoption and diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). ICT, particularly the Internet, underpins almost every single activity undertaken in the modern world, and affects everyone on the planet--even those who do not themselves have first-hand access to ICTs (ITU 2010). Good examples include food distribution, power networks, water supplies or mass transportation, all of which are controlled and managed today by ICT networks and applications.

According to the World Telecommunication Report 2010, released to review the mid-term status and achievement in-between the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2005 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 2015, tremendous progress has been made over the past decade, with almost two billion people throughout the world now having access to the Internet.

Although significant progress has been evident in the world's Internet population, household Internet penetration levels vary substantially between countries and regions. At the end of 2008, one out of four households in the world had access to the Internet but only one out of eight households in the developing countries was connected, compared to three out of five in the developed countries.

While by the end of 2008, 58.1 per cent of households in Europe had Internet access, only 16.8 per cent of the household in Asia and Pacific countries were connected to the Internet. The Internet population of Asia-Pacific countries remains at a lower level in comparison to Europe, America, CIS and the Arab States. The Internet penetration of Bangladesh is significantly lower, below 1 percent, than that of other Asia-Pacific countries, such as Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore and Australia.

Despite its poor internet penetration the present government of Bangladesh has given the highest priority to ICT and initiated diverse policies and programs to achieve the digital goal provisioned in the national election 2009 and post-election agenda. The country's national budget for 2010-2011 allocates a substantial amount of resources for ICT development and reiterates expanding the ICT networks to the rural communities to achieve government, citizen and business interactions and exchanges through the Internet (GOB 2010). The government also initiated some modifications to the country's national ICT policy in 2009 which reiterates the necessity of establishing e-government, e-services and e-commerce environments in order to gain economic potential. It also emphasizes formulating appropriate policies and strategies for facilitating Internet related communication, e-commerce operation and e-governance. In order to achieve ICT potentials the government is dedicated to utilizing the Internet in the education and service sector (Azam & Quaddus, 2009a; Azam & Quaddus, 2009b; Azam & Quaddus, 2009c). Although countable policy initiatives have been adopted to utilize the potential of ICT in the economic development of the country, the success of digitization or computerization is still doubtful.

Although Bangladesh has already initiated appropriate steps to fight against the hurdles and hindrances of ICT adoption, such as, limited accessibility to the internet, poor teledensity, poor electricity network, limited affordability of computer and limited knowledge, inadequate legal and regulatory support, inefficient and traditional systems of banking operation, poor financial support and traditional payment mechanism, lack of human resource, high Internet usage cost as well as security concerns (Azam & Quaddus, 2009; Azam, 2005; Azam & Lubna, 2008; Azam, 2006; Hossain, 2000; ITRC, 2000; Rahman, 2002), poor Internet penetration is still considered as the main issue for establishing an e-based transparent society. …