E-commerce protocol supporting automated online dispute resolution
E-commerce now constitutes a significant part of all commercial activity; however the increase in transactions is also leading to more disputes. These disputes are becoming more frequent, more technologically complicated and more difficult in terms of traceability . This thesis focuses specifically on dispute problems related to soft products, i.e. those that are intangible and therefore requiring no physical delivery. With the growing demand for these types of products, e.g. downloadable films, music, software, and prepaid calling time, the prevention of fraudulent transactions is becoming increasingly important. Reasons for the rise in the number of fraudulent transactions include merchants being unable to see the customer to verify an ID or signature and E-commerce enabling soft-products and services to be acquired via soft delivery methods: email, download or logging in. The introductory section provides a critique of current e-commerce fraud detection and prevention techniques and shows that not all are suitable for e-commerce, especially soft-products, and therefore unable to provide complete protection against fraud. The future relating to the detection and prevention of e-commerce fraud is then discussed, leading to suggestions regarding the improvement of the current state-of-the-art technique, the Address Verification Service (AVS), which is used to accommodate the introduction of soft-products. Apart from the exchange process problems, i.e. those involving money and goods, attention is also paid to other important factors such as timing and quality that are usually neglected in these detection and prevention techniques. Dispute scenarios from many different perspectives have been analysed, viz. computer science, business, legal and that of the participants themselves. From the analyses, all possible dispute cases have been formally listed using the 'Truth Table' approach. This analysis has then led to the design of a comprehensive taxonomy framework for dispute in e-commerce. The term Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), is the online technology applied to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is resolving disputes other than via litigation in the courts. Current ODR systems and their suitability for the e-commercial world have been examined, concluding that not all are appropriate for e-commerce situations (since most still involve a human element and often make the resolution process more costly than the actual item under dispute). The proposed solution to the problem is by automating the online dispute resolution process. The total solution is described in two parts (i) an E-commerce Transaction Protocol (ETP) forming the infrastructure where the transaction will take place and be able to accommodate any new improvements in the future, and (ii) an Automated Online Dispute Resolution (AODR) system which should automatically resolve any dispute occurring within the proposed e-commerce model. In order for the AODR to resolve any dispute, a product/payment specific plug-in (add-on) has been incorporated into the system. For illustration purposes, credit cards as a payment method has been selected and the appropriate plug-in specification for soft products and credit cards created. The concept of providing every soft product with a quality certificate has also been discussed. A concluding case study of e-commerce in Saudi Arabia has been used to test the viability of both the e-commerce dispute taxonomy and the proposed model. The case study shows the suitability of using ETP with AODR in order to resolve soft-product disputes automatically. Limitations of the work and further research possibilities have then been identified.