Agents and Payment Systems in E-Commerce

Agents and Payment Systems in E-Commerce

Sheng-Uei Guan (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch018
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An emerging outcome of the popularization of the Internet are electronic commerce and payment systems, which present great opportunities for businesses, reduce transaction costs, and provide faster transaction times. More research has been conducted with new technologies like mobile Internet used by business models (Baek & Hong, 2003). However, before using the Internet, it is essential to provide security in transferring monetary value over the Internet. A number of protocols have been proposed for these secure payment systems, including NetBill, NetCheque, Open Market, iKP, Millicent, SET (Sherift, 1998), E-Cash (Brands, 1995), NetCash, CAFÉ (Mjolsnes, 1997), EMV cards (Khu-Smith & Mitchell, 2002), etc. These systems are designed to meet diverse requirements, each with particular attributes. Automation and intelligence is another issue that poses challenges in the development of e-commerce. Agent technology has been incorporated into the area of e-commerce to provide automation and intelligence for the e-trade process. An agent is a software program capable of accomplishing tasks autonomously on behalf of its user. Agents must provide trustworthy consistency and fault tolerance to avoid eavesdropping and fraud. Also, agents should have roaming capability so as to extend their capability well beyond the limitations of owners’ computers. To meet these requirements, this chapter will discuss some related components under the SAFER (Secure Agent Fabrication, Evolution, and Roaming) architecture (Zhu & Guan, 2000) and propose an agent-based payment scheme for SAFER. Different types of electronic payment systems have been developed to meet its diverse requirements, which generally include integrity, authorization, confidentiality, availability, and reliability for security requirements (Asokan, 1997). Payment systems can be classified in a variety of ways according to their characteristics (Dahab & Ferreira, 1998), such as the exchange model (cash-like, check-like, or hybrid), central authority contact (online or offline), hardware requirements (specific or general), payment amounts (micropayment), etc. Among the available payment schemes in the market, E-Cash is one of the best in terms of security, flexibility, and full anonymity. E-Cash is a cash-like online system that uses electronic coins as tokens. E-Cash has unique advantages, such as flexibility, integrity, and full anonymity that cannot be found in electronic check and credit card based systems. It uses cryptographic techniques to provide full anonymity. The agent-based payment scheme for SAFER adopts some similar principles and concepts of E-Cash.
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Main Thrust Of The Article

This chapter presents a brief overview of agents and payment system attributes used in e-commerce. An agent-based e-payment scheme built for the SAFER e-commerce architecture is proposed, which is aimed at providing a flexible and secure financial infrastructure for Internet commerce.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flexibility: The ease with which a system or component can be modified for use in applications or environments other than those for which it was specifically designed (IEEE, 1990 AU21: The in-text citation "IEEE, 1990" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Confidentiality: The nonoccurrence of the unauthorized disclosure of information (Barbacci, 1995 AU20: The in-text citation "Barbacci, 1995" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Anonymity: The degree to which a software system or component allows for or supports anonymous transactions.

Agents: A piece of software that acts to accomplish tasks on behalf of its user.

Adaptability: The ease with which software satisfies differing system constraints and user needs (Evans, 1987 AU19: The in-text citation "Evans, 1987" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Cryptography: The art of protecting information by transforming it (encrypting it) into an unreadable format, called cipher text. Only those who possess a secret key can decipher (or decrypt) the message into plain text.

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