China legalized electronic signatures on the weekend, giving them the legal status of conventional signatures. Now third-party companies are expected to begin operations to provide verification services between e-merchants and e-customers, state media said. More than 87 million Chinese go online but few shop online at China's estimated 4,000 e-commerce sites because of low credit card penetration, lack of robust online payment systems and because of fear of identity theft and exposure to financial ruin. But sluggish growth has not stopped e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com and E-Bay from announcing mainland acquisitions and joint ventures with Chinese e-commerce players. Lawmakers worked on the signature law for over two years.