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Electronic Commerce | E-commerce in Europe | EU e-commerce legal framework | E-commerce and SMEs | Banks struggling on Internet | E-commerce and telecomms | Interoperability of e-commerce data | Creating trust in the information infrastructure | Electronic commerce for SMEs| Secure Electronic Marketplace for Europe (SEMPER) | ESPRIT and ACTS projects on Electronic Commerce | E-commerce research in Europe | Digital Commerce Center | CommerceNet | Joint Electronic Payment Initiative (JEPI) | Internet EDI | Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) | Information and Content Exchange (ICE) Protocol | Open Trading Protocol (OTP) Standard | Mobile E-commerce | E-commerce and XML | IETF and EDI | RosettaNet | E-commerce and Java | E-Commerce in Japan | Vendors of E-Commerce systems | Electronic signature standardisation | Online software sales strategies | E-commerce resources
Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is the combination of networked applications and commerce and will provide the bedrock of the emerging Information Society. It will provide the information technology infrastructure to support future business processes and the exchange of goods and services. We have divided the subject into three subsets, which are covered under different topic headings:
- Electronic Commerce which is covered on this topic page
- Networked payment mechanisms and digital cash
This section concentrates on the infrastructure requirements, and at the same time covers the area of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - a networked trading mechanism which was a fore-runner to the Internet-based e-commerce now emerging.
The European Commission has welcomed the European Parliament's approval of the Electronic Commerce Directive, which clears the way for this important measure to become law within the next 18 months. The Lisbon Summit identified this Directive as a top priority in preparing Europe's transition to a knowledge-based economy and boosting competitiveness.
It establishes specific harmonised rules to ensure that businesses and citizens can supply and receive Information Society services throughout the EU, irrespective of frontiers. These areas include definition of where operators are established, transparency obligations for operators, transparency requirements for commercial communications, conclusion and validity of electronic contracts, liability of Internet intermediaries, on-line dispute settlement and the role of national authorities.
In other areas the Directive builds on existing EU instruments which provide for harmonisation or mutual recognition of national laws.
Interestingly the Directive defines the place of establishment as the place where an operator actually pursues an economic activity through a fixed establishment, irrespective of where web-sites or servers are situated or where the operator may have a mail box. The full release outlining the directive is available online at the URL below. 19/05/00
Knowledge and Information Transfer on Electronic Commerce (KITE) - Within the context of the G8 pilot project "A Global Marketplace for SMEs" the project KITE set out to collect, illustrate, analyse and inform on the diversity of e-commerce that is undertaken specifically by small and medium sized companies (SMEs).
To achieve these goals an Inventory with a self-registry mechanism was set up, an analysis and a best practice guide were produced. In addition, the project supported the activities within the G8 pilot project and disseminated best practice in E-commerce. (The final G8 report can be found at the web site below).
The KITE web site provides a good starting point for companies considering the implications of e-commerce; where links to all KITE publications and the inventory can also be found. 09/05/00
Some of the world's leading banks are investing heavily in electronic banking services, even though they have no clear business justification for their moves, according to a survey published by management consultants Ernst & Young. Over a hundred of the world's largest banks in 26 countries took part in the study entitled: "Electronic Commerce & Connecting to the Customer". The findings included:
- the prediction that by 2001, banks will spend proportionately the same amount of money on Internet technology as they currently spend on their high street branches;
- the Internet is unlikely to improve the range and delivery of banking products and services: over 96 percent of the banks admitted they were not expecting to increase the sales of products on the Internet;
- 54 percent conceded that the processing of Internet enquiries usually starts more than 24 hours from the time they were originated;
- only 34 percent of European banks surveyed felt that the Internet will help them to retain customers. In the US, these figures were higher: over half said the Internet would help them retain business.
Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Charley, Ernst & Young's Banking Partner, reflected: "Ironically, the very infrastructure that makes it easier to deliver a wider range of products and services to help keep customers happy, also makes it easier for customers to compare and contrast competitors. Increasingly, as firms try to catch-up with small, high-tech competitors, they may inadvertently be accelerating the issue of dwindling customer retention".
The ITU have released a report on the role of the national telecommunications policy maker and regulator in the development of electronic commerce. The report, entitled "Regulatory issues for E-commerce", also reviews the participants' views on the possible role of the ITU in facilitating electronic commerce. The report, a product of the Eighth Regulatory Colloquium held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva last December, is designed to assist telecommunications regulators and policy-makers, in grappling with the many issues they are confronted with as a result of the rapid uptake of e-commerce.
The Colloquium reached five key conclusions:
- E-commerce is driven by market forces and technological change, not by regulation;
- the regulator's main role is to assure open access to telecommunications;
- new developments such as Internet telephony pose new challenges to the telecommunications regulation;
- many critical issues raised by e-commerce including IPR, taxation, dispute resolution and contract issues, fall outside the telecommunications' regulator's scope although they should endeavour to keep abreast of developments in the full range of policy issues and provide advice whenever necessary;
- the ITU has an important role to play in e-commerce, largely within its current agenda.
The report is available free of charge from the ITU's Strategic Planning Unit or on the ITU web site.
URL: Strategic Planning Unit mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
URL: report http://www.itu.int/plweb-cgi/fastweb?getdoc+view1+itudoc+4543+0++Regulatory%20issues%20for%20E-commerce
URL: ITU http://www.itu.int
Interoperability of Data in E-commerce Systems (indecs) is an international initiative of rights owners which seeks to develop a framework of metadata standards to support network commerce based on intellectual property. The initiative is supported under the European Commission's Info2000 programme embracing multimedia rights clearance systems (MMRCS). The project site claims that indecs will deliver, by the end of 1999:
- a completed generic data model for intellectual property trading in a network environment;
- the mapping of other metadata initiatives to this common model;
- a specification for the development of a "metadata registry" which will make it possible for applications to make use of this mapping to make different metadata schemes interoperable;
- specification for the linking of "person identifiers", an essential part of the infrastructure;
- a Resource Description Framework (RDF) model of the generic data model;
- implementation guides (managerial and technical) for those who need to work with the model;
- proposals to appropriate standards bodies for formal standardisation.
indecs-link is a free monthly online newsletter, detailing new areas and updates added to the indecs website which is aimed at policy-makers, librarians, the creative industries and anyone interested in developing standards to support the trade in intellectual property.
The second issue, dated March 1999, includes details of:
- four recently published project documents which explain the principles behind the creation of the generic data model, detailed above;
- work to exchange information between indecs and the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG);
- a report on the 47th meeting of Moving Picture Expert Group (ISO/IEC JTC1 SC29 WG11) in Seoul, South Korea, particularly concerning the development of MPEG-7.
International Commerce eXchange (ICX) is hoping to act as a single focal point encompassing all aspects of creating trust in the global information infrastructure. ICX plans to address this issue by bringing together large, medium and small business users, suppliers and governments and through them:
- identifying the legal and regulatory requirements;
- developing and disseminating business best practices and procedures;
- pinpointing and promoting appropriate technical standards and controls.
The latest ICX research has produced a short paper, investigating the 20 most commonly-cited business barriers to adoption of e-commerce. The paper provides some useful pointers as to the requirements placed on European businesses in order to be successful in the implementation of e-commerce.
URL: further information mailto:email@example.com
"Electronic Commerce in the European Union" provides a starting point which provides links to other EU initiatives in the area of electronic commerce.
There is also a US website to providing EC related technical and change management assistance to small companies. The project is sponsored by the National Institute of Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and site coverage will be developed in-line with feedback from users.
The Improving Business Search on Internet (IBSI) project is developing an XML-based search engine to "improve business directories and e-commerce applications for European Small and Medium Enterpises". IBSI is a sub-project of the KITE (Knowledge and Information Transfer on Electronic Commerce) programme.
The IBSI project is assessing the feasibility of an XML-based search engine by examining both the technical and the economic implications. By classifying business information in a consistent way and by identifying it with XML tags it is possible to achieve better performances in web retrieval. A demonstration search tool based on XML is available via the project web site.
Within the context of the G8 pilot project "A Global Marketplace for SMEs" the KITE project plans to "increase knowledge, understanding and awareness in targeted sectors of SMEs regarding electronic commerce". It aims to create understanding within intermediaries such as chambers of commerce, legal and professional service providers, banks and regional development bodies. KITE also plans to "facilitate the transfer of knowledge between organisations active in developing electronic commerce projects and trials, in order to accelerate development of best practice, and increase opportunities for commercial exploitation". The project plans to publish:
- a directory of new commercial or pre-commercial pilots;
- a best practice guide which includes case studies showing the business benefits of business-to-business and business-to-consumer electronic commerce.
Both the register and the guide will be organised according to vertical market application and will include links to more detailed sources of information.
URL: IBSI http://www.decade.be/ibsi/index.htm
URL: KITE http://kite.tsa.de/
Secure Electronic Marketplace for Europe (SEMPER) is a European R&D project in the area of secure electronic commerce over open networks, especially the Internet. It is a European-based response to a number of e-commerce initiatives which have their roots in the USA (see CommerceNet and OBI below). It is executed by an interdisciplinary consortium, combining experts from social sciences, finance, retail, publishing, IT and telecommunications.
SEMPER is part of the European Commission's ACTS Programme (Advanced Communications Technologies and Services), funding is provided by the partner organisations, the European Union and the Swiss Federal Department for Education and Science.
A list of electronic commerce projects supported by the EU in the field of Information Technologies (ESPRIT) and Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS) is available from the "Electronic Commerce and the European Union " web site. Brief descriptions of the projects are listed under four headings:
- business to business e-commerce
- business to consumer e-commerce
- business to administrations e-commerce
The European Initiative in Electronic Commerce has published descriptions of more than 350 projects in the field of electronic commerce which took place during the 4th Framework Programme. Entitled: "Accelerating Electronic Commerce in Europe", the publication is available via the web and includes projects which cover a broad spectrum of research in a wide range of industry sectors.
EC2 Annenberg Incubator Project, the multimedia business incubator and research facility at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center for Communication, has announced its latest online resource, the Digital Commerce Center. The aim of the Center is to "help businesses compete in the new world of digital commerce through an understanding and application of digital technology, information and media".
Digital Commerce Center contains research and resources in the areas of electronic commerce, Internet advertising, digital asset management, media convergence, research translation, organisational knowledge, small business development, and corporate education. The Center provides forums for business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, technologists and media experts to understand and communicate critical issues in digital commerce. 23/05/00
URL: EC2 home page http://www.ec2.edu/
CommerceNet is a not-for-profit consortium of over 250 companies dedicated to advancing electronic commerce. The consortium runs many pilot programmes to address technology issues with the aim of fostering development and acceptance of e-commerce.
In an attempt to overcome potential problems of interoperability between different e-commerce implementations the Consortium has devloped an object-oriented framework called eCo System. The framework is built-up of four layers:
- Specific internet services (vertical markets)
- Business services (generic types of e-commerce)
- Commerce services (the elements of e-commerce as provided by payment mechanisms and security protocols)
- Network services (the infrastructure)
In order to facility interoperation between layers they are also developing a Common Business Language (CBL) with the aim that different application agents will be able to "talk" with each other.
CommerceNet has launched the eCo Interoperability Framework, its set of specifications (based on XML) to support interoperability among e-business implementations. "eCo compliance means freedom from limited e-commerce solutions," said Randall Whiting, CEO of CommerceNet. "With the eCo Framework, e-commerce solutions can seamlessly interoperate in a world where tools such as agents and auctions are starting to impact almost every business process." The eCo Interoperability Framework consists of two components:
- The eCo Architecture defines the way businesses describe themselves and their commerce services, as well as the markets or trading communities to which they belong. The specification offers ascending levels of compliance.
- The eCo Semantic Recommendations describe best practices for developing XML based e-commerce documents. The recommendations also define a set of XML building blocks and document definitions that will let future XML specifications to interoperate easily with existing ones. It includes a "starter set" of example business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices. The library of building blocks includes XML encodings for ISO and related standards for currency, time/date, country codes, measurement, address and other reusable components.
Since many applications are being developed and few standards have dominance, it seems that application vendors in this arena will achieve interoperability between systems through the agreement of what are becoming known as metaprotocols. Essentially, systems will support multiple protocols and "negotiate" with each other which to use to achieve interoperation.
The Joint Electronic Payment Initiative (JEPI) is just such an approach. The project run by CommerceNet and the W3C aims to develop a negotiation protocol where a customer's online wallet "negotiates" an acceptable payment mechanism with the merchant terminal. For more information see the JEPI white paper..
URL: CommerceNet http://www.commerce.net/
URL: Eco System http://www.commerce.net/eco
URL: JEPI white paper http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Payments/white-paper.html
CommerceNet is developing an e-commerce test bed in the UK, to act as a technology showcase for software, hardware and transaction services. The consortium hope that participants will develop applications across a number of vendor configurations. Sixteen vendors have agreed to supply resources (software expertise, systems integration and technical support) to the test bed which will be built over a three month period and will be available for development and evaluation for a further nine months.
The Commerce One Common Business Library (CBL) 2.0, is a set of XML building blocks and a document framework that allows the creation of XML documents for electronic commerce. To enable companies to preserve their investment in existing standards such as traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), CBL 2.0 plans to provide a transition path to an XML-based commerce capability. CBL 2.0 is designed to take advantage of the expressive power of XML schemata and will be released in three different schema languages:
- Microsoft's XML Data Reduced (XDR);
- the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C), XML Schema Definition Language (XSDL);
- and Commerce One's Schema for Object-oriented XML (SOX).
According to the press release making the announcement, the specification has been endorsed by Microsoft's BizTalk initiative, OASIS, the UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Working Group, and CommerceNet and its eCo Framework Project and Working Group.
An Internet Engineering Task Force workgroup covering EDI (EDIINT) has recommended standards for secure, interoperable electronic data interchange over the Internet.
Member companies have demonstrated exchange of documents over SMTP using the Secure MIME (S/MIME) protocol. Two draft standards have been proposed: MIME-based secure EDI, and EDIINT functional specifications.
Descriptions are available which outline the functional requirements of Internet-based EDI systems: encryption; key management; content integrity; authentication; non-repudiation of receipt; error handling.
Those interested in Internet-EDI transport mechanisms should subscribe to the IETF Internet EDI mailing list. Server: Majordomo@imc.org; List: ietf-ediint; List Address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
URL: List Request mailto: email@example.com
URL: List Admin mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
URL: Archive http://www.imc.org/ietf-ediint/
RosettaNet is a consortium of technology companies attempting to define guidelines for product descriptions and inventory descriptors. The intention is to agree a common format which would lead to the easier introduction of online ordering. Ultimately, widespread use could enable greater interoperability and more sophisticated online catalogues and user-based e-commerce services.
RosettaNet has opened a European operation in Geneva, in order to "identify and integrate specific European requirements of companies participating in a global initiative to align supply chain interface ebusiness processes within the information technology (IT) and electronic component (EC) industries".
Since 1998, RosettaNet has focused on building and developing basic supply chain interface process standards. Having validated the technical aspects of RosettaNet's Partner Interface Processes (PIPs), members are testing a variety of implementations prior to a scheduled production system rollout in February 2000.
RosettaNet announced the release of the first 10 XML Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) at the beginning of December 1999. PIPs are defined as "specialised system-to-system XML-based dialogs that define how business processes are conducted between IT manufacturers, software publishers, distributors, resellers and corporate end users".
The Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 is producing a technical report into the methodology for moving the X12 standards for electronic data interchange (EDI) into XML syntax. A draft report is expected by June 1999 with final publication of the recommendations scheduled for October 1999. ASC stated that they see: "X12-XML as a way to extend the benefits of EDI to a new community of users while at the same time preserving existing investments in X12-based technology and standards". The Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA) is the not-for-profit corporation that serves as the secretariat for ASC X12, which was chartered by the American National Standards Institute to develop US cross-industry standards for EDI.
URL: DISA http://www.disa.org
The United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and OASIS have established the Electronic Business XML Initiative (ebXML) to develop a technical framework that will enable XML to be utilised in a consistent manner for the exchange of all electronic business data. Industry groups currently working on XML specifications have been invited to participate in the 18 month project. The results of the Electronic Business XML Initiative will be placed in the public domain on XML.org.
UN/CEFACT is the United Nations body whose mandate covers worldwide policy and technical development in the area of trade facilitation and electronic business. Headquartered in Geneva, it has developed and promoted many tools for the facilitation of global business processes including UN/EDIFACT, the international EDI standard. Its current work programme includes such topics as Simpl-edi and Object Oriented edi and it strongly supports the development and implementation of open inter-operable, global standards and specifications for electronic business.
URL: UN/CEFACT http://www.unece.org/cefact
URL: OASIS http://www.oasis-open.org/
URL: XML.org http://www.xml.org/
The first ebXML Initiative Technical Specifications has been released for public comment. The ebXML Requirements Specification is available for download and articulates the overall business requirements for ebXML, and defines specific technical infrastructure requirements that will be addressed by the various ebXML Project Teams in preparing their deliverables. 17/03/00
Under the guidance of UN/CEFACT and OASIS, electronic business experts representing standards organisations, industry consortia and companies from around the world gathered in Brussels for a working meeting, hosted by CEN/ISSS, that marked the six-month point in the ebXML initiative's 18-month charter.
Highlights of the meeting included the approval of the ebXML Requirements Specification and a proof-of-concept demonstration for the routing and enveloping of ebXML messages.
Participation in ebXML remains open to all interested parties. Current information on all the ebXML project teams is available from the project web site. 23/05/00
URL: ebXML http://www.ebxml.org/
URL: UN/CEFACT http://www.uncefact.org/
URL: OASIS http://www.oasis-open.org/
David Webber, one of the prime-movers in setting-up the EDI/XML discussion list, has announced the GUIDE initiative which he explains is designed to help businesses in the implemention of XML based business processes, particularly in the context of ebXML. Further information is available from the web site. 22/09/00
The UK's Business & Accounting Software Developers' Association (BASDA) is running it's eBIS-XML initiative to develop "a standard many-to-many interface, to enable business systems to exchange orders and invoices by email". According to BASDA, it is also working with a number of UK Government departments in the UK GovTalk initiative helping to define XML interfaces for the electronic submission of personal tax forms. 25/07/00
The Visa Enhanced Data Service provides Visa Commercial Card clients with purchase information over and above that contained in the payment transaction. A recent development is Visa XML Invoice Specification which the company hope will provide a cross-industry, interoperable message format to enable processing of enhanced data across regions and industry sectors on a growing number of systems and reporting packages.
The specification contains a comprehensive list of data elements contained in most invoices, and Visa is working with several international XML governing bodies, including ebXML, for its official adoption as a standard. Available for download are the Visa XML Invoice Implementation Guide, a General XML Invoice Implementation Guide and an XML Invoice Technical Pack, Version 1.0. 18/02/00
URL: contact email mailto:email@example.com
IBM has submitted a specification for defining and implementing electronic contracts to the XML.org initiative. Based on XML, The Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML) enables companies to automate business-to-business (B2B) transactions, by defining how trading partners interact. 15/02/00
The EDI/XML group have published a document entitled: "The E-commerce Framework" which acts as an Executive Summary of XML/EDI Frameworks. The document focuses on the business reasons for selecting XML/EDI. Providing a technology overview it explains how XML/EDI can be deployed, the advantages it brings, and analyses the potential benefits for early adopters.
Proponents of EDI/XML cite advantages of closer cooperation between the developers in the field of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and those developing eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Whilst there is considerable interest in the potential utility of XML in the area of E-Commerce, it should be noted that many developers in the EDI arena are sceptical concerning the potential benefits of using XML above those offered by established messaging standards such as X.12.
The ISIS XML/EDI Project Consortium has released a document entitled: "Best Practices for Creating XML/EDI DTDs". The documentation comprises:
- Mapping from UML Generalized Message Descriptions to XML DTDs;
- Best practices for linking local applications to a communication standard;
- Rules for Mapping Existing EDIFACT MIGs to XML DTDs.
The Best Practices documentation, available on the ISIS XML/EDI Project web site, is a draft for public comment and will be revised in light of comments received. The documentation will be presented to a number of standardisation committees for review.
The group has published a draft of it's XML repositories documents for public comment. The initiative states the objectives for the move is to:
- develop draft standards on repositories for submission to the W3C, Object Management Group (OMG), and UN/EDIFACT working groups
- establish a formal working group to coordinate proposal development
- provide a technical forum for individuals involved in repository development to participate
- offer links among disciplines and standards such as W3C's XML, as well as OMG's UML (Unified Modeling Language) and MOF (Meta-Object Facility).
The group believes that the XML repositories will provide a means to store on the web the document type definitions (DTDs) exchanged among parties doing business electronically. They believe in a "common registration procedure", stating that: "repositories will act as global libraries, and enable industry groups, government agencies, and businesses of all sizes to make their preferred message formats widely available to current and potential trading partners".
There is a further topic page on EDI and XML on this site, which includes a number of links to useful resources concerned with e-commerce.
Philippe Vijghen has published a paper entitled: "Cost-Effective EDI Using XML? A Pivot-Based Approach".
URL: XML/EDI group http://www.geocities.com/WallStreet/Floor/5815
Veo Systems has proposed Version 1.1 of is Common Business Library (CBL) specification to CommerceNet and RosettaNet to provide the standard, defined XML tags for electronic commerce. The CBL specification defines a set of common XML data elements for the exchange of catalogue content, purchase orders, and invoices.
The European XML/EDI Pilot Project plans to test the use of XML for electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions. There is an email discussion group (join at the website) and a support centre is planned.
URL: XML/EDI Pilot project http://www.cenorm.be/isss/workshop/ec/xmledi/isss-xml.html
URL: Mission statement http://www.cenorm.be/isss/workshop/ec/xmledi/mission.html
The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) has published two white papers on messaging format structures for e-commerce ("SDML Specifications 2.0" and "SDML/XML Comparison"). Both documents were prepared by members of the FSTC Electronic Check Project team. The first is a detailed description of the FSTC-developed Signed Document Markup Language (SDML). The second document is an analysis of the issues associated with making SDML compliant with the Extensible Markup Language (XML). In addition, the FSTC intends to submit a proposal to the W3C to start a project that would integrate the capabilities found in SDML into a future release of XML.
The FSTC is a consortium of US banks, financial services providers, national laboratories, universities, and government agencies who sponsor and participate in non-competitive collaborative research and development on interbank technical projects.
In a bid to address the problem of direct access to web data from within business applications, the Web Interface Definition Language (WIDL) is being proposed. It is an application of XML with the aim of: "enabling the automation of all interactions with HTML/XML documents and forms, providing a general method of representing request/response interactions over standard web protocols". A paper entitled "WIDL: Application Integration with XML" which discuses the issues is published on the web.
JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers proposed FpML (financial products markup language), a protocol for Internet-based electronic dealing and information sharing of financial derivatives, initially handling interest rate and foreign exchange products. The companies are hoping that the protocol, based on XML, will become a standard in developing e-commerce systems.
JP Morgan is reportedly working on a suite of client services that employ FpML, including trade execution, confirmation, valuation, risk analysis, and the exchange of market data. Whilst, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it will use FpML to: "address financial and operational risk management issues for its clients and will also support the industry's adoption of FpML and related solutions".
The first working draft of the FpML (financial products markup language) standard is now available from the download area of the FpML.org web site. In order to make it easier to download, the document has been separated into 3 parts: an overview of FpML; the components and DTDs; the sample FpML.
Information about the organisation; the schedule of upcoming FpML seminars; and the list of proposed working groups will be posted on the web site shortly.
URL: FpML http://www.fpml.org
GlobeID, an e-commerce vendor, claims to have performed the "world's first secure Internet purchases using the Electronic Commerce Modeling Language (ECML) standard". The ECML format, announced in early June 1999 by a consortium of technology companies, including AOL, IBM, Microsoft, Compaq, CyberCash, along with Visa, Mastercard and American Express, should enable "real-time Internet transaction applications". ECML, is essentially a set of XML tags that merchants will be asked to use on their merchant servers to make form completion easier. This approach should ensure interoperability with other modules in the e-commerce chain, enabling the automation of information exchange between customer and merchant.
URL: GlobeID http://www.globeid.com
Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) is a specification being put forward by a consortium of companies in the US. The specification:"lays the foundation for interoperable EDI over the Internet, especially for small purchases." The standard will be administered through a non-profit organization, called the OBI Consortium. The consortium will offer opportunities to learn more about the standard and its implementation. It also plans to undertake necessary revisions of the standard and contribute to the ongoing development of other business-to-business Internet commerce standards.
The "standard" contains an architecture, detailed technical specifications and guidelines, and compliance and implementation information. A top level white paper of the specification has been released and the consortium plan to develop this. The architecture uses the EDI 850 transaction set, adapts it for IP delivery, and builds in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and digital security certificates.
OBI V2.0 is the first "open" standard for high volume business-to-business purchasing transactions over the Internet. The OBI V2.0 specification has been developed by representatives from Office Depot, Lockheed, Microsoft, barnesandnoble.com, Netscape, and, American Express among others.
An OBI Interoperability Showcase, is planned for CommerceNet 99, where technology vendors as well as selling and purchasing organisations will demonstrate OBI-enabled procurement solutions. In addition to these demonstrations, the Showcase will launch the OBI Compliance Programme, to ensure OBI compliance in participating members' products.
URL: OBI V2.0 http://www.openbuy.org/obi/specs/obiv2.html
URL: white paper http://www.openbuy.org/obi/library/white-paper.html
URL: CommerceNet 99 http://www.commerce.net/cn99
URL: OBI Consortium http://www.openbuy.org/
The Information and Content Exchange (ICE) Protocol has been submitted to the W3C for consideration as a Recommendation. The complete Submission Request, submitted materials, and W3C Team Comment, is available on the web and describes the ICE protocol for use by content syndicators and their subscribers. Further information about ICE, along with the latest ICE specification is published on the GCA's web site.
The Information and Content Exchange (ICE) Working Group has released ICE Version 1.1 of the digital asset exchange standard. The ICE standard, an initiative hosted by IDEAlliance, aims to reduce the cost of doing business online and increase the value of B2B relationships.
ICE (using XML) facilitates the controlled exchange and management of electronic assets between networked partners and affiliates. Applications based on ICE allow companies to construct syndicated publishing networks.
Key enhancements added to the latest version include: Controlled Extensibility, Generalized Parameter Negotiation, Delivery Policy Controls on Referenced ICE Items, Carefully Specified Inter-Operability Semantics. There is further information on the web sites below. 30/06/00
URL: ICE http://www.icestandard.org/
URL: IDEAlliance http://www.idealliance.org/
The Open Trading Protocol (OTP) Consortium, a group of over 30 companies, has released a draft standard aimed at the retail trade on the Internet. Available for public comment, pilot implementation and trials - the Open Trading Protocol is published at the OTP website. The site provides the OTP specification, resources and an email forum for the exchange of comments between merchants, vendors and financial institutions.
A press release accompanying the announcement claimed that: "the OTP standards provide a framework for multiple forms of electronic commerce, ensuring an easy-to-use and consistent consumer purchasing experience regardless of the payment instrument or software and hardware product used". The protocol is freely available to developers and users, builds on XML, and its development will be managed by the OTP Consortium.
The OTP standards, which specify how Internet trading transactions can take place, are independent of the method of payment used, providing the following set of rules:
- offers for sale;
- agreements to purchase;
- payment (by using existing payment products, such as SET, Mondex, CyberCash, GeldKarte);
- the transfer of goods and services;
- receipts for purchases;
- multiple methods of payment;
- support for problem resolution;
- payment brand and protocol selection.
A reprint of a report published in the UK's Financial Times on Virtual Finance and the concepts behind shopping protocols such as OTP is available in PDF format from the author, David Birch.
URL: David Birch mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mobey Forum (pronounced Mo-Bay) is a financial industry-driven forum, whose mission is to encourage the use of mobile technology in financial services. The formation of the Mobey Forum was publicly announced by 14 world-leading financial institutions and mobile manufacturers on May 10, 2000. Further details from the Forum's web site. 16/05/00
The Java Electronic Commerce Framework (JECF) provides a model for incorporating Java within e-commerce solutions, further details are available from a number of web pages.
The Electronic Commerce Promotion Project, partially funded by the Japanese government, consists of 19 test-bed projects providing various kinds of electronic commerce between consumers and businesses. In addition the Electronic Commerce Promotion Council of Japan (ECOM) was established in early 1996 to study a wide range of EC related issues.
The links to vendor pages listed in the product information section provides good links to further information on E-Commerce systems, network payment mechanisms and digital cash, secure online commerce and "cyber-banking" with a more commercial bias.
European Telecommunications Standards Institute's (ETSI) draft on electronic signature standardisation for business transactions is now available on the web. The standardisation work is in response to the European Commission initiative in support of a common framework for electronic signatures. The aim of the first set of standards is to meet the minimum requirements for interoperability of electronic signatures used in secure business transactions, enabling the development of secure e-commerce.
The scope of the current proposal covers a range of standardisation activities, including:
- naming conventions and constraints;
- the format of electronic signature tokens;
- the format of sub-components of electronic signature tokens, eg. Public Key Certificates, Attribute Certificates, Certificate Revocation Lists;
- the selection of protocols to interoperate with public repositories.
Comments on the draft are being encouraged by ETSI, with a final draft of the standard being scheduled for publication in September 1999. The work is being carried out within the framework of the European Electronic Signature Standardisation Initiative (EESSI).
URL: draft standard http://www.etsi.org/sec/el-sign.htm
URL: EESSI http://www.ict.etsi.org
Electronic license distribution could account for about half of the total market for software acquisition by 2002, and Microsoft Corp. remains among the leading companies that will drive industry standards as this market matures, according to a new research report series published by International Data Corporation (IDC).
"Microsoft is a clear leader in driving channel and end-user acceptance of both the promise and the necessity of electronic license distribution as a key underpinning for online software sales strategies," said Stephen Graham, vice president of IDC's Software Channel and Alliance Strategies research group and author of IDC's recent bulletin, "Software Giants Go Online".
Other vendors, such as Computer Associates and Novell, are now beginning to broaden online sales strategies. Oracle, meanwhile, continues to add capabilities for customer self-service to its Oracle Store and promises to expand its online strategy to take costs out of its own system while enabling customers to more easily acquire and better manage their software assets. IBM and Lotus continue to follow hybrid strategies that enable multiple channel players, including online service providers, along with direct sales capability.
According to IDC's research both vendors and end users are searching for signs of emerging standards and vendors are seeking to emulate the initiatives of other market leaders to make their products easier to buy. The bulletin is part of a new 10-part Software eChannels Research Report Series presented by IDC to map the most important components in the evolution of the Internet as a channel for software vendors.
URL: further information mailto:email@example.com
URL: IDC http://www.idc.com/
- Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) Interactive have released a major report on eCommerce for over 27 countries, including most European countries. The US has by far the largest percentage of online shoppers. 27% of all Internet users in the US shop online during a month. While 10% of all Internet users shop online during a month, even more users (15%) consider shopping but decide not to shop. Thus, there are more people who consider shopping online but do not, than actual people who do shop online. This represents a huge opportunity for increased ecommerce, says TNS. The complete report can be downloaded from their web site. 15/08/00
- Version 6 of IDC's Internet Commerce Market Model, published as the report "The Global Market Forecast for Internet Usage and Commerce", predicts that Internet commerce will "exceed $1.6 Trillion Worldwide by 2003". The report also predicts that by the end of this year, 29% of people who go online will purchase a good or service, and that percentage will swell to 38% by 2003.
"The US currently dominates e-commerce, but this will be the last year it accounts for the majority of Web spending as the number of international buyers increases and international business-to-business Web transactions become more commonplace," claims the report's author. The report is available for purchase. 03/07/00
- Nine hundred billion Euros will flow via EU e-marketplaces by 2005, according to Forrester Research. This figure will represent 6% of all business-to-business (B2B) trade in the EU as up to a thousand online markets emerge to facilitate Internet business transactions.
These figures are published in the report entitled "Euro eMarketplaces Top Hype" which outlines how these eMarketplaces will start off biased toward buyers and sellers, but will evolve into neutral, Pan-European venues that allow all participants to profit from their market reach and efficiency. 23/06/00
URL: report press release http://www.forrester.com/ER/Press/Release/0,1769,321,FF.html
- The E-Global PaperFree web site, is published by The Spanish Centre of Competence in Electronic Commerce. The site provides free downloads of technical, scientific and academic papers concerning e-commerce, i-commerce, e-business, and mobile-commerce. A free monthly email notification service is also available. 14/04/00
- An email-based E-Commerce Forum has been established at European Telework Online web site alongside the successful Telework Forum, which has now been running for five years. The E-commerce Forum plans to provide "an open approach to discuss any and every aspect of e-business, particularly from a European and International perspective".To join the E-commerce Forum, send a message to the email address below (the subject line and message text will be ignored). 10/03/00
URL: European Telework Online http://www.eto.org.uk/
- The December 1999 issue of First Monday (volume 4, number 12) includes a paper which discusses how e-commerce alters the dimensions of time, place and form to alter fundamental notions of what a market is and how it operates. The paper explains what the shift from marketplaces to marketspaces means; discusses new forms of intermediaries (cybermediaries); considers the business case for I-markets and the software needed to support new and changing business models.
- The Industry Standard has announced the release of eight new reports in their E-Commerce Consumers research series, which aim to expose new consumer attitudes and behaviour, online. All the reports focus on the US market and are charged for, detailed descriptions are given online. The eight reports cover such things as: the attitudes and behaviour of the new digital consumer, browsers and buyers online, a guide to women online and a guide to the expanding virtual marketplace.
- "Machine-to-Machine e-Business: Information Systems Meet Electric Systems" is the title of a new report from Deloitte consulting. The report is the first in a series of monographs called e-Views and predicts that machine to machine data communications could surpass people-based connectivity in the next five years. Typical applications cited for this increase centre on remote monitoring, including remote facilities management (such as electrical, and heating), remote security systems, remote application management and maintenance. This research monograph is available on the web site below.
- E-Commerce Special Section of The New York Times (free registration required) explores the world of online commerce. It covers topics such as e-mail and spam, MP3 and the music industry, online scams, teens and online shopping, online advertising, starting an e-business, and online college courses. Other content includes the favourite sites of "online industry leaders", and a number of additional articles, grouped by topic.
URL: E-Commerce section of NYT http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/09/biztech/technology/
- IBM have published an overview of of its e-business software solutions, products, and a selection of successful case studies. Also published on the site is IBM's new report, "Ten Success Factors for e-business", which is based on what IBM has learned in 18,000 e-business engagements: what works, and what does not. The report includes how to build, run, and manage successful e-business applications, and how to steer an organisation through the business and technological changes that result from implementing and e-business strategy.
URL: e-business software http://www.ibm.com/software/info/soul/info/main/
URL: report http://www.ibm.com/software/info/soul/it/guide.html
- The use of XML for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has been championed since the advent of the XML standard. Debate still rages, between two often antagonistic camps. XML.com has published an article from Alan Kotok in which he argues that if XML is going to drive standards for e-commerce, then XML developers need to "learn from years of experience in EDI". The article explains how EDI developed, how it functions and why decisions made in it's implementation are worth noting when developing the next generation of e-commerce systems. The site is also hosting a discussion on XML and EDI.
- ZDNet and Creative Good have launched the "E-Business Best Practices" web site, which the companies claim, "provides businesses of all sizes with instructive examples of good and bad customer experiences in electronic commerce". Judge for yourself whether the site, which each week will update its list of the "Top 10 Best" and "Top 10 Worst" examples of e-commerce implementations on the web, passes your own user expectations!
- Two articles published by IBM explain how to build successful e-commerce systems based on "good design practices" that yield simplicity, reusability, security, and performance. The articles identify two important principles: "separation of concern, and separation of context".
- Interleaf has created a subsidiary company which will focus on the application of XML for e-commerce applications, details via the web site, xmlecontent.com.
- details of how e-transaction processing can integrate existing business systems with web based technologies
- an announcement of the IBM Design Center for e-transaction Processing which is planning to "assist large companies with their transformation to e-business models".
- Deloitte & Touche and the Information Systems Audit and Control Foundation (ISACF) have formed an alliance to conduct joint research to define best practices for electronic commerce security. A four-phase research project will provide:
- a worldwide survey on the state of e-commerce security based on interviews with executives at 150 companies in 12 countries;
- a survey of 19,000 Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) members;
- a series of technical reference guides which will explore technologies and practices that support e-commerce;
- a series of case studies on the secure use of the Internet for business.
URL: ISACA/ISACF http://www.isaca.org
- A web site, sponsored by IBM: "Learning e-business" outlines four steps to become an e-business: transforming core business processes; building flexible, expandable e-business applications; running a scalable, available, safe environment; leveraging knowledge and information gained from e-business systems.
- Verista, a website developed to provide a platform for opinions about the e-commerce. It's intention is to pull together practitioners to discuss the opportunities, technologies and lessons of ecommerce. The site publishes a short "opinion" essay monthly, from which email-based discussion is encouraged. The site also includes two position papers: an introduction to the major ecommerce categories and application vendors; a description of e-commerce in terms of two fundamental challenges: the challenge of state, and the challenge of semantics.
- E-commerce Times is an online journal which provides news, resources and feature articles on the technologies and techniques required to implement e-commerce solutions. A free e-zine can be subscribed to at the site and is delivered either daily or weekly.
- The third 1998 edition of the online journal: "Journal of Law, Information and Technology" (JILT) focuses on e-commerce. Refereed articles include: "Identity authentication and e-commerce" and "Legal regulation of e-commerce" and a commentary on EU proposals for a common framework for electronic signatures.
- V-Commerce is attempting to develop e-commerce platforms which include advanced speech recognition thereby enabling voice activated e-commerce. The platforms are based on technologies from a number of vendors and if successful could enable web-based transactions to be carried out over the phone. A key component of the systems is believed to be Motorola's VoxML (VoiceMarkup Language) - which provides XML markup for voice activation. The V-Commerce website includes details of a wide variety of vendors involved in the initiative, although currently there seems to be a lack of implementation details.
URL: V-Commerce http://www.v-commerce.com/overview.html
URL: VoxML http://www.voxml.com
- The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) have published the Financial Services Markup Language (FSML) for public review. The specification is in use in the FSTC's echeck market trial with the US Treasury, which is assessing electronic payments on the Internet considering issues such as flexibility, accountability and privacy.
- "Client versus Server Side Functionality in E-Commerce, Storefront Applications" is a white paper published by e-commerce solution vendor, MyStore. The paper contends that: "server side e-commerce storefront software can be slow, redundant, and add to the congestion of the Internet whilst client side e-commerce software, can be feature rich, fast, economical and run in any current web browser"
- MIT's Agent-mediated Electronic Commerce Initiative (AmEC) is investigating how software agent technologies can be used in the electronic marketplace. Issues addressed include: distributed component-based marketplaces, open and extensible languages and protocols for locating and defining goods and services, merchant differentiation, value-based product comparisons, buying decision aids, negotiation protocols, visualization of marketplace data and activities, and issues of trust, reputation, security, marketing. The research is also considering the socioeconomic implications of agent-mediated electronic commerce.
- The IBM Institute for Advanced Commerce provides a forum to: "explore developing economic trends and emerging technologies to better understand the technical, business, and social processes that are shaping the future of the electronic marketplace".
- The e-Christmas initiative, featured in a report published by KPMG, had the following objectives:
- increase industry and market understanding of critical success factors for electronic commerce in Europe;
- raise the profile of Internet commerce in Europe, highlighting its importance to the future success of European businesses;
- prove that available technologies from leading suppliers worked together, thereby demonstrating that major current barriers to successful Internet commerce in Europe are not purely technical.
- A web site entitled allECommerce provides a good source of electronic commerce news and resources. Available free of charge, the site is updated daily and includes news, articles, book reviews, along with product and event listings.
- The ACTS (Advanced Communication Technologies & Services) INFOWIN project has published an overview of R&D in the area of information brokerage with specific emphasis on electronic commerce. Entitled: "Information brokerage - solutions for electronic commerce", the publication is aimed at professionals in the field of advanced communication technologies and services.
- Roger Clarke's Electronic Commerce Pages
- Resource Directory of the School of Information Management and Systems, University of California Berkeley has sections which cover the complete spectrum of e-commerce.
- Digital Commerce, Digital Times' list of links and related articles on e-commerce.
- E-Commerce News, part of Internetnews.com with news briefs on commerce related material.
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