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The Mobile Commerce Prospects: A Strategic Analysis of Opportunities in the Banking Sector

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Mobile Commerce has gained increasing acceptance amongst various sections of the society in previous years. The reasons for its growth can be traced back to technological and demographical developments that have influenced many aspects of the socio-cultural behaviour in today’s world. The need (and/or wish) for mobility seems to be the driving force behind Mobile Commerce. The launch of UMTS technology has provided Mobile Commerce with the necessary verve. Mobile Banking presents an opportunity for banks to retain their existing, technology-savvy customer base by offering value-added, innovative services and to attract new customers from corresponding sections of the society. The customer survey provides evidence that such sections in the meanwhile include the affluent and financially relevant groups of the society in Germany. The time seems to be ripe to convert this non-negligible customer interest into business-driving customer demand. A proactive attitude on the part of the banks seems to be therefore recommendable. Many banks in Germany have come to regard Mobile Banking as a necessary tool for thwarting negative differentiation vis-à-vis rivals and to foster/retain an innovative image. This self-reinforcing dynamism is expected to gain currency in near-future so that Mobile Banking services could soon advance to a standard product – on the lines of Online Banking – offered by more or less each and every bank.
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Mobile Commerce has gained increasing acceptance amongst
various sections of the society in previous years. The reasons for
its growth can be traced back to technological and demographical
developments that have influenced many aspects of the socio-
cultural behaviour in todays world. The need (and/or wish) for
mobility seems to be the driving force behind Mobile Commerce.
The launch of UMTS technology has provided Mobile Commerce
with the necessary verve.
Mobile Banking presents an opportunity for banks to retain
their existing, technology-savvy customer base by offering value-
added, innovative services and to attract new customers from
corresponding sections of the society. The customer survey
provides evidence that such sections in the meanwhile include
the affluent and financially relevant groups of the society in
Germany. The time seems to be ripe to convert this non-negligible
customer interest into business-driving customer demand. A
proactive attitude on the part of the banks seems to be therefore
recommendable.
Many banks in Germany have come to regard Mobile Banking
as a necessary tool for thwarting negative differentiation vis-à-
vis rivals and to foster/retain an innovative image. This self-
reinforcing dynamism is expected to gain currency in near-future
so that Mobile Banking services could soon advance to a standard
product  on the lines of Online Banking  offered by more or
less each and every bank.
Rajnish Tiwari, Stephan Buse The Mobile Commerce Prospects
Rajnish Tiwari
Stephan Buse
Hamburg University Press
The Mobile Commerce Prospects:
A Strategic Analysis of Opportunities
in the Banking Sector
The Mobile Commerce Prospects:
A Strategic Analysis of Opportunities in the Banking Sector
Research Project Mobile Commerce
in collaboration with
Institute of Technology & Innovation Management
Hamburg University of Technology, Germany
&
Chair of International Management
University of Hamburg, Germany
The Mobile Commerce Prospects:
A Strategic Analysis of
Opportunities in the Banking Sector
by
Rajnish Tiwari & Stephan Buse
Hamburg University Press
Verlag der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg
Carl von Ossietzky
Rajnish Tiwari is Research Fellow at the Institute of Technology and
Innovation Management, Hamburg University of Technology (“Technische
Universität Hamburg-Harburg” = TUHH) in Germany. A graduate in Bu-
siness Administration (Dipl.-Kfm.), Tiwari co-leads the research project
“Prospects of Mobile Commerce” at TUHH. The main area of his responsi-
bility in this project is Mobile Banking. He was awarded with the “Market
and Customer Orientation 2006” prize of the Vodafone Foundation for
Research for his study on the prospects of Mobile Banking.
Dr. Stephan Buse is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Technology and
Innovation Management, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).
Dr. Buse, earlier acting head of the Chair of International Management at
University of Hamburg (UHH), founded the research project “Prospects of
Mobile Commerce” in 2001 with the intention to conduct in-depth surveys
and analysis of consumer behaviour and market developments in various
fields of the mobile economy. He continues to lead and guide the project
which at present consists of the following mobile commerce applications:
Mobile Banking, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Information Services, Mo-
bile Marketing and Mobile Ticketing.
Executive Summary
Mobile Commerce has gained increasing acceptance amongst various sec-
tions of the society in previous years. The reasons for its growth can be
traced back to technological and demographical developments that have
influenced many aspects of the socio-cultural behaviour in today’s world.
The need (and/or wish) for mobility seems to be the driving force behind
Mobile Commerce. The launch of UMTS technology has provided Mobile
Commerce with the necessary verve.
Mobile Financial Services build a cornerstone of Mobile Commerce.
They comprise of Mobile Payment and Mobile Banking. Mobile Banking,
the primary research object of this study, in turn consists of the following
sub-applications:
1. Mobile Accounting
2. Mobile Brokerage
3. Mobile Financial Information
Mobile Financial Information can be considered as an independent module
and offered as a stand-alone application. Each of the first two sub-
applications is offered, in contrast, invariably in combination with informa-
tion services.
An empirical survey of the customer acceptance conducted under the
ambit of this study reveals large-scale interest in Mobile Banking. The cus-
tomer interest and the willingness to pay however vary for individual ser-
vices. It is therefore necessary to design offers taking cognizance of the
needs and wishes of relevant target groups.
Mobile Banking presents an opportunity for banks to retain their exist-
ing, technology-savvy customer base by offering value-added, innovative
services and to attract new customers from corresponding sections of the
society. The customer survey provides evidence that such sections in the
meanwhile include the affluent and financially relevant groups of the soci-
ety in Germany. The time seems to be ripe to convert this non-negligible
customer interest into business-driving customer demand. A proactive atti-
tude on the part of the banks therefore seems to be recommendable.
Many banks in Germany have come to regard Mobile Banking as a nec-
essary tool for thwarting negative differentiation vis-à-vis rivals and to
vi Executive Summary
foster/retain an innovative image. This self-reinforcing dynamism is ex-
pected to gain currency in near-future so that Mobile Banking services could
soon advance to a standard product – on the lines of Online Banking – offer-
ed by more or less each and every bank.
Content's Outline
1. Introduction .............................................................................................19
1.1 Statement of Objectives ....................................................................20
1.2 Structure of the Study........................................................................21
2. The Concept of Mobile Commerce.........................................................25
2.1 The Conceptual Background and Perspective ..................................25
2.2 The Features of Mobile Commerce...................................................35
2.3 The Specific Advantages of Mobile Commerce ................................37
3. The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce..................................39
3.1 Regulations on Legal Enforceability of Contracts .............................42
3.2 Regulations on Consumer- and Data Protection...............................43
3.3 Categories excluded from Mobile Commerce ...................................44
4. The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce .............................47
4.1 Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission. ....................................47
4.2 Complementary Technologies of Data Transmission .......................56
4.3 Display and Programming Standards................................................58
4.4 Future-Scenario: The fourth Generation (4G) ...................................61
5. Mobile Applications & Methods of Payment ...........................................63
5.1 Overview of Mobile Applications .......................................................63
5.2 Payment Mechanisms for Utilising Mobile Services..........................65
6. Mobile Commerce in Banking Sector .....................................................69
6.1 Definitions and Scope Issues ............................................................69
6.2 Services Offered in Mobile Banking ..................................................74
viii Content’s Outline
7. Mobile Banking Offers & Employed Mediums ........................................83
7.1 Browser-based Applications ..............................................................85
7.2 Messaging-based Applications..........................................................96
7.3 Client-based Applications ................................................................100
8. Utility of Mobile Banking for Banks .......................................................109
8.1 The Outset of Banking Environment ...............................................110
8.2 Mobile Banking as Distribution Channel .........................................112
8.3 Mobile Banking as Source of Revenue ...........................................115
8.4 Mobile Banking as Business Model ................................................116
8.5 Mobile Banking as Image Product ..................................................117
9. Empirical Research on the Viability of Mobile Banking ........................119
9.1 Customer Acceptance of Mobile Banking .......................................120
9.2 The Banks' perspective ...................................................................167
10. Strategic Assessment of Survey Results ...........................................189
10.1 Relevance of Mobile Banking........................................................189
10.2 Appropriate scope of Mobile Banking ...........................................192
11. Conclusions and Outlook....................................................................195
Table of Contents
Index of Tables ....................................................................................... ..XIII
Index of Figures ....................................................................................... .XIV
Index of Research Issues .........................................................................XIV
Index of Charts ......................................................................................... XV
Index of Abbreviations .............................................................................XVI
Acknowledgements................................................................................ XVIII
1 Introduction .............................................................................................. 19
1.1 Statement of Objectives .................................................................. 20
1.2 Structure of the Study........................................................................ 21
2 The Concept of Mobile Commerce.......................................................... 25
2.1 The Conceptual Background and Perspective.................................. 25
2.1.1 Defining Electronic Business and Electronic Commerce ............ 28
2.1.2 Defining Mobile Business and Mobile Commerce ...................... 31
2.1.3 The Mobile Commerce Perspective ............................................ 34
2.2 The Features of Mobile Commerce................................................... 35
2.3 The Specific Advantages of Mobile Commerce ................................ 37
3 The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce................................... 39
3.1 Regulations on Legal Enforceability of Contracts ............................. 42
3.2 Regulations on Consumer- and Data Protection............................... 43
3.3 Categories excluded from Mobile Commerce ................................... 44
4 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce.............................. 47
4.1 Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission ..................................... 47
4.1.1 The First Generation (1G) ........................................................... 48
4.1.2 The Second Generation (2G)...................................................... 48
4.1.2.1.Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) ................ 49
4.1.2.2 High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD)........................ 51
4.1.3 The 2.5 Generation (2.5G) .......................................................... 51
4.1.3.1 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) ................................ 52
x Table of Contents
4.1.3.2 Enhanced Data-rates for Global Evolution (EDGE)..............53
4.1.4 The Third Generation (3G)..........................................................54
4.2 Complementary Technologies of Data Transmission .......................56
4.2.1 Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) ........................................56
4.2.2 Bluetooth .....................................................................................57
4.3 Display and Programming Standards ...............................................58
4.3.1 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)..........................................58
4.3.2 i-mode .........................................................................................59
4.4 Future-Scenario: The fourth Generation (4G)...................................61
5 Mobile Applications & Methods of Payment ............................................ 63
5.1 Overview of Mobile Applications .......................................................63
5.2 Payment Mechanisms for Utilising Mobile Services..........................65
6 Mobile Commerce in Banking Sector ...................................................... 69
6.1 Definitions and Scope Issues............................................................ 69
6.1.1 Scope of Banking Business ........................................................ 69
6.1.2 Scope of Financial Services........................................................ 71
6.1.3 Scope of Mobile Banking ............................................................ 72
6.2 Services Offered in Mobile Banking .................................................. 74
6.2.1 Mobile Accounting....................................................................... 74
6.2.1.1 Account Operation ................................................................ 75
6.2.1.2 Account Administration ......................................................... 76
6.2.2 Mobile Brokerage ........................................................................ 77
6.2.2.1 Account Operation ................................................................ 77
6.2.2.2 Account Administration ......................................................... 78
6.2.3 Mobile Financial Information ....................................................... 78
6.2.3.1 Account Information.............................................................. 80
6.2.3.2 Market Information................................................................ 81
7 Mobile Banking Offers & Employed Mediums ......................................... 83
7.1 Browser-based Applications.............................................................. 85
7.1.1 WAP Banking .............................................................................. 86
7.1.2 i-mode Banking ........................................................................... 90
Table of Contents xi
7.1.3 Web-based Mobile Banking (PDA Banking) ...............................95
7.2 Messaging-based Applications..........................................................96
7.2.1 SMS Banking...............................................................................96
7.2.2 MMS Banking..............................................................................96
7.3 Client-based Applications................................................................100
7.3.1 SIM Toolkit (STK)......................................................................101
7.3.2 JAVA-based Mobile Banking Clients ........................................102
8 Utility of Mobile Banking for Banks ........................................................109
8.1 The Outset of Banking Environment ............................................... 110
8.1.1 Intensified Competition in Banking Sector ................................ 110
8.1.2 Adapting to Requirements of Core Target Groups ................... 111
8.2 Mobile Banking as Distribution Channel.......................................... 112
8.2.1 Increasing Sales Volume .......................................................... 113
8.2.2 Reducing costs of distribution ................................................... 113
8.2.3 Increasing customer satisfaction............................................... 114
8.3 Mobile Banking as Source of Revenue ........................................... 115
8.4 Mobile Banking as Business Model................................................. 116
8.5 Mobile Banking as Image Product................................................... 117
9 Empirical Research on the Viability of Mobile Banking ......................... 119
9.1 Customer Acceptance of Mobile Banking ....................................... 120
9.1.1 Methodology of the survey ........................................................ 120
9.1.2 Composition of Survey Participants .......................................... 122
9.1.3 Customer Perception of Mobile Banking................................... 130
9.1.3.1 Advantages of Mobile Banking ........................................... 131
9.1.3.2 Disadvantages of Mobile Banking ...................................... 132
9.1.3.3 Wish list for Mobile Banking................................................ 133
9.1.3.4 Preferred Mobile Banking Applications............................... 134
9.1.3.5 Preferred medium for availing mobile services................... 136
9.1.3.6 Importance of (affordable) Mobile Banking......................... 138
9.1.4 Customer Response to Service Offers ..................................... 141
9.1.4.1 Services in Mobile Accounting............................................ 142
xii Table of Contents
9.1.4.2 Services in Mobile Brokerage ............................................. 148
9.1.4.3 Services in Mobile Financial Information ............................ 152
9.1.4.4 Monthly Fee and Advertisements ....................................... 158
9.1.5 Influence of Ignorance............................................................... 160
9.1.6 Identifying Significant Attributes................................................ 162
9.1.7 Comparison with Other Empirical Surveys ............................... 163
9.1.7.1 University of Hamburg Study from Year 2001 .................... 163
9.1.7.2 Meridea Study from Year 2003........................................... 164
9.2 The Banks' perspective ................................................................... 167
9.2.1 Methodology of the survey........................................................ 167
9.2.2 Composition of survey participants ........................................... 169
9.2.3 Product Portfolios in Mobile Banking ........................................ 172
9.2.3.1 Mobile Accounting .............................................................. 173
9.2.3.2 Mobile Brokerage................................................................ 174
9.2.3.3 Mobile Financial Information............................................... 174
9.2.4 Mediums of Mobile Banking...................................................... 176
9.2.5 Objectives Pursued by Mobile Banking Offers ......................... 179
9.2.6 General Issues relating to Mobile Banking ............................... 181
9.2.7 Arguments against Mobile Banking .......................................... 184
9.2.8 Theses about Mobile Banking................................................... 186
10 Strategic Assessment of Survey Results ............................................ 189
10.1 Relevance of Mobile Banking........................................................ 189
10.1.1 Significant customer interest....................................................190
10.1.2 Potential advantages of offering mobile services ....................191
10.1.3 Potential disadvantage of ignoring Mobile Banking .................191
10.1.4 Issues of image & competition .................................................192
10.2 Appropriate scope of Mobile Banking ............................................192
10.2.1 Need for a clear business focus...............................................193
10.2.2 Concentration on right customer groups..................................193
11 Conclusions and Outlook..................................................................... 195
Table of Contents xiii
References .............................................................................................198
Appendix-A: List of participant banks & interview partners…………...... 211
Appendix-B: List of German banks surveyed during 2nd-tier
research….…….. ...............................................................213
Appendix-C: List of international banks surveyed during 2nd-tier
research………….............................................................. .215
Appendix-D: German-English terminological equivalents used…….…..217
Appendix-E: Background paper on German banking sector…………… 218
Appendix-F: Questionnaire “Customer Survey”…………………………. 223
Appendix-G: Questionnaire “Bank Survey” …………………………….... 227
Imprint .................................................................................................... 233
Index of Tables
Table 1: Mobile Commerce services & applications...................................63
Table 2: Services in Mobile Accounting......................................................75
Table 3: Services in Mobile Brokerage.......................................................77
Table 4: Services in Mobile Financial Information......................................79
Table 5: WAP services for Mobile Accounting............................................87
Table 6: WAP services for Mobile Brokerage.............................................88
Table 7: WAP services for Mobile Financial Information............................89
Table 8: i-mode services for Mobile Accounting.........................................91
Table 9: i-mode services for Mobile Brokerage ..........................................91
Table 10: i-mode services for Mobile Financial Information.......................92
Table 11: Case study - mobile services of Postbank..................................93
Table 12: Case study - Sevenval FIT Mobile..............................................94
Table 13: Messaging-based Mobile Accounting services ..........................97
Table 14: Messaging-based brokerage services........................................98
Table 15: Messaging-based Mobile Financial Information services...........99
Table 16: Mobile Accounting via client-based applications ......................104
Table 17: Mobile Brokerage via client-based applications .......................105
Table 18: Mobile Financial Information via client-based applications ......106
Table 19: Case study - Smart-client solution of Sparkasse KölnBonn.....107
Table 20: Probability of more than one bank account across groups ......127
xiv Table of Contents
Table 21: Ranking of Mobile Accounting services....................................148
Table 22: Ranking of Mobile Brokerage services by all participants........151
Table 23: Ranking of Mobile Brokerage services by admirers.................152
Table 24: Ranking of Mobile Financial Information services....................158
Table 25: Comparison between 2001 and 2005 results...........................164
Table 26: Comparison between Meridea and Uni Hamburg surveys.......165
Table 27: Comparison of user perception of disadvantages ....................165
Table 28: Results of the customer survey at a glance .............................166
Table 29: Average rating of objectives pursued by banks........................179
Table 30: Arguments against Mobile Banking..........................................185
Table 31: Evaluation of theses about Mobile Banking .............................187
Table 32: Results of the bank survey at a glance ....................................188
Table 33: List of German banks surveyed during 2nd-tier research ........214
Table 34: List of international banks surveyed during 2nd-tier research..216
Table 35: Credit institutions with minimum reserve obligation to ECB.....218
Index of Figures
Figure 1: The Mobile Commerce perspective ............................................34
Figure 2: Generations of mobile telecommunication standards in
Germany......................................................................................47
Figure 3: Hierarchical cell structure of UMTS.............................................55
Index of Research Issues
Research Issue 1: Scope of banking and financial services in Mobile
Banking.........................................................................73
Research Issue 2: Issues related to Mobile Accounting.............................76
Research Issue 3: Issues related to Mobile Brokerage..............................78
Research Issue 4: Issues related to Mobile Financial Information.............82
Research Issue 5: Propagation of Mobile Banking by banks .....................85
Research Issue 6: Prospects of web-based Mobile Banking .....................95
Research Issue 7: Suitability of SMS for transaction services .................100
Research Issue 8: Issues related to client-based solutions .....................101
Research Issue 9: Reasons for lukewarm response to STK....................102
Research Issue 10: Utility of mobile services for banks ...........................117
Table of Contents xv
Index of Charts
Chart 1: Overview of survey participants' professions.............................123
Chart 2: Overview of survey participants' net monthly income in euros..123
Chart 3: Penetrance of PDAs across professions ...................................125
Chart 4: Usage of Online Banking across professions............................126
Chart 5: Bank preferences across age-groups........................................128
Chart 6: Existing Mobile Banking users across professions....................130
Chart 7: Advantages of Mobile Banking in participants' view..................132
Chart 8: Disadvantages of Mobile Banking in participants' view .............133
Chart 9: Wish list for Mobile Banking in participants' view ......................134
Chart 10: Preferred Mobile Banking applications .....................................135
Chart 11: Popularity of mediums of Mobile Banking.................................137
Chart 12: Preferred medium of Mobile Banking across age-groups ........138
Chart 13: Willingness across age-groups to change bank for Mobile
Banking .....................................................................................139
Chart 14: Willingness of customers to change bank for cheaper
mobile services .........................................................................140
Chart 15: Acceptance of Mobile Remittance ............................................144
Chart 16: Willingness across selected groups to pay for Mobile
Remittance................................................................................144
Chart 17: Acceptance of card management amongst admirers ...............147
Chart 18: Willingness to pay for Mobile Brokerage transactions..............149
Chart 19: Support for account and balance enquiries ..............................153
Chart 20: Willingness to pay for account enquiries ..................................154
Chart 21: Utility of stock market reports for Mobile Brokerage Admirers .157
Chart 22: Preferences level of monthly fee supporters ............................159
Chart 23: Popularity of Mobile Banking amongst opponents ...................161
Chart 24: Composition of the surveyed banks..........................................170
Chart 25: An overview of current offers of Mobile Banking ......................171
Chart 26: Mediums of Mobile Banking employed by banks .....................176
Chart 27: Target customer groups in Banks’ perspective .......................180
Chart 28: Reasons for passive Mobile Banking activities.........................182
Chart 29: Reasons for domination of information services.......................183
Abbreviations
1G First Generation of mobile telecommunication standards
[and so forth]
a.o. amongst others
AMPS Advanced Mobile Phone System
ATM/s Automatic Teller Machine/s
CDMA Code Division Multiple Access
CLDC Connected Limited Device Configuration
CRM Customer Relations Management
DCS Digital Cellular System
DECT Digital European Cordless Telephone
e.g. for example [Latin: exempli gratia]
E-Business Electronic Business
ECB European Central Bank
E-Commerce Electronic Commerce
EDGE Enhanced Data-rates for Global Evolution
Eds. Editors
EEA European Economic Area
EITO European Information Technology Observatory
et al. and others [Latin: et alii, et alia, etc.]
ETSI European Telecommunications Standard Institute
EU European Union
Govt. Government
GPRS General Packet Radio Service
GPS Global Positioning System
GSM Global System for Mobile Communication
HBCI Home Banking Computer Interface
HRM Human Resources Management
HSCSD High Speed Circuit Switched Data
HTML Hypertext Mark-up Language
i.e. that is to say [Latin: id est]
IPR Intellectual Property Rights
IT Informational Technology
ITS Intelligent Transport System
IuKDG Information and Communication Services Act [Germany]
J2ME Java 2 Platform, Mobile Edition
JDC Japan Digital Cellular
kbps Kilobits per second
KWG The Bank Act [Germany]
Abbreviations xvii
LAN Local Area Network(s)
M-Business Mobile Business
M-Commerce Mobile Commerce
MIDP Mobile Information Device Profile
MMS Multimedia Messaging Service
n.a. not available
NMT Nordic Mobile Telephone
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
p./pp. page/pages
PACS Personal Access Communication Systems
PC Personal Computer(s)
PDA Personal Digital Assistant(s)
PIN Personal Identification Number
RRR Real Rate of Rejection
SIM Subscriber Identification Module
SMG Special Mobile Group
SMS Short Message Service
STK SIM Toolkit (SIM = Subscriber Identification Module)
TACS Total Access Communications System
TAN Transaction Number
TDMA Time Division Multiple Access
UMTS Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
UN/UNO United Nations / United Nations Organisation
UNCITRAL United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
US/USA United States / United States of America
VIP Very Important Person
VRM Virtual Runtime Machine
vs. versus
WAP Wireless Application Protocol
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organisation
WLAN Wireless Local Area Network (also: W-LAN)
WML Wireless Mark-up Language
WTLS Wireless Transport Layer Security
WTO World Trade Organisation
xHTMLMP eXtensible Hypertext Mark-up Language Mobile Profile
Acknowledgements
This study would not have been possible in its present form and scope
without active and valuable support of a numbers of friends, colleagues and
well-wishers. Most important was the support needed, and received, to
conduct an extensive survey of customer acceptance of Mobile Banking.
Friendly help was received from Prof. Dr. K.-W. Hansmann and Prof.
Dr. Hartmut Schmidt, who not only granted kind permission to conduct
student surveys in their lecture halls but also appealed to students to par-
ticipate in the survey.
Mr. Christoffer Feldtmann from the Press Division of Hamburg Airport
arranged for a friendly permission to conduct the survey at Hamburg Air-
port.
Following friends and colleagues contributed by volunteering to help or-
ganise and/or conduct the survey. We remain deeply indebted to:
Mr. Khaled Baghban (Munich)
Mr. Kawit Barija (Hamburg)
Ms. Wibke Büttner (Frankfurt)
Mrs. Madya Duggal (Hamburg)
Mr. Florian Fiedler (Hamburg)
Ms. Sandra Klocke (Hamburg)
Ms. Anne Mai (Hamburg)
Ms. Vesna Petrusheva (Hamburg)
Mr. Karsten Siegmund (Hamburg)
Ms. Olga Sutygina (Hamburg)
Mr. Andreas Wolf (Hamburg)
Space-constraints hinder this list from being exhaustive. Our special thanks,
therefore, go to them, whose valuable help remains anonymous here.
Hamburg, 05.01.2007
Rajnish Tiwari & Stephan Buse
1 Introduction
Mobile Commerce has staged a remarkable comeback. Rising from the
ruins of a failed first stint, it has surprised many pundits busy writing its
obituaries. Mobile Commerce is slowly, but surely, showing signs of a
healthy recovery.
According to European Information Technology Observatory (EITO),
the total revenues generated by Mobile Commerce in Germany in the year
2003 amounted to €280 million, reports the German Association for Infor-
mation Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM).1 The
revenue was generated primarily by paid-for services sold to subscribers of
mobile phones. The Mobile Commerce turn-over in Great Britain was re-
ported to be €212 million, in France €127 million. Germany reportedly had
a market share of 25% in Western Europe [BITKOM, 2004, p. 27].2
These revenues are, no doubt, a far-cry of the euphoric estimates made
at the height of the dotcom boom: Mobile Commerce revenues were esti-
mated to cross the mark of €23 billion by year 2003.3 But then growth esti-
mations are known to generally contain a “substantial” portion of optimism.
Anyway at risk of unforeseen changes in environmental conditions they
should be enjoyed with a healthy scepticism.
Nevertheless, mobile services have registered an impressive growth in
the previous years. The total amount of revenues generated by Mobile
Internet and Mobile Content services, combined together, were reported to
be less than €19 million in whole of Western Europe in year 2001 [EITO,
2002, pp. 18-19]. In this context, the 2003 figures indicate towards a posi-
tive development of an enormous magnitude. Even as we prudently main-
1 EITO [2004, p. 29] defines Mobile Commerce as “all purchases of products and services
that occur across a mobile data platform as a result of some interaction with the sub-
scriber”. The definition issues are discussed in detail in section 2.1.
2 Latest data for year 2004 is not available as yet; status 17.10.2005.
3 See for example [Müller-Veerse, 2000, p. 5].
20 Introduction
tain a healthy distrust of growth estimates, it would be useful to have a
glance at new estimations: They suggest that Mobile Commerce revenues
could cross the mark of €5 billion in Germany by the year 2007 [BITKOM,
2004, p. 27].
The reasons for this development can be traced back primarily to the
technological innovations and some other factors, listed below:
1. The penetration of the society by mobile phones has reached an all-time
high. Over 72 million of Germany’s residents reportedly owned a mo-
bile phone at the year-end 2004. This means that effectively 87% of all
German residents possess a mobile device [FTD, 2005, p. 1].
2. The integration of world economies is leading to more mobility so that
mobile services are no more just a luxury but a necessity for many.
3. The younger generations of the society seem to be fascinated by modern
data and telecommunication services.
4. Mobile devices have become more powerful. Data transmission has
become faster with the launch of the Universal Mobile Telecommunica-
tions System (UMTS).
The scope of Mobile Commerce encompasses therefore almost every walk of
life. Mobile services are reported, amongst other, from the fields of informa-
tional content, entertainment, travel, banking, marketing and shopping.
1.1 Statement of Objectives
This study, part of a research project at Chair of International Management
at the University of Hamburg, was conducted in cooperation with the Insti-
tute of Technology and Innovation Management at Hamburg University of
Technology. It is primarily concerned with the scope of Mobile Commerce
services in the field of banking.
The overall research project led by Dr. Stephan Buse and titled “Pros-
pects of Mobile Commerce in Germany” examines chances and scope for
Mobile Commerce in various business fields in Germany. Altogether five
Mobile Commerce applications are being examined under this project:
Structure of the Study 21
1. Mobile Banking
2. Mobile Entertainment
3. Mobile Information Services
4. Mobile Marketing
5. Mobile Ticketing.
This project is an update of a similar research project conducted by
Dr. Buse and his then team members in year 2001. The new study intends
to identify changes and developments in the landscape of Mobile Com-
merce since then.
A primary aim of this project, and consequentially of this study, is to
undertake an objective and critical examination of the phenomenon of Mo-
bile Commerce in a given business field and to scrutinise the potentials
without prejudice or bias so as to assess the future prospects without any
preset “target” results.
This study, as stated earlier, concentrates primarily on the utility,
chances and acceptance of Mobile Commerce services in the banking sec-
tor (Mobile Banking). The study is conducted on two planes. The first
plane examines the application of Mobile Banking and its utility in general.
The second plane examines the applicability of the therein obtained results
in a more specific context of Germany. For this purpose a background pa-
per on the German banking sector has been prepared and attached as ap-
pendix.
1.2 Structure of the Study
This study is structured on the following lines:
Chapter 1 is built by this short introduction.
The phenomenon of Mobile Commerce, which has received little aca-
demic attention to date, is dealt with in detail in chapter 2. This study
makes an ambitious effort to clarify the definition issues and sincerely
hopes to be able to make a humble contribution in this regard. For this pur-
pose, we undertake a detailed examination of the conceptual background
and clarify the connection of Mobile Commerce to other related fields, in
addition to dwelling on the features and advantages of Mobile Commerce.
22 Introduction
Chapter 3 clarifies the regulatory framework of Mobile Commerce.
The technological framework of Mobile Commerce is discussed in de-
tail in chapter 4. This chapter discusses various technologies required to
deliver mobile services, e.g. data transmission technologies and display-
and programming standards. It also entails a short outlook on the techno-
logical development.
Chapter 5 has a short overview on various Mobile Commerce applica-
tions and discusses several methods of payment for availing mobile ser-
vices, including the mobile method of payment (Mobile Payment).
Chapter 6 marks the beginning of the main focus of this study: This
chapter discusses in detail the possibility of offering banking and financial
services via mobile devices. For this purpose the definition and scope is-
sues of Mobile Banking are clarified and services identified that might be
offered via mobile devices.
Chapter 7 deals with the technical realisation of Mobile Banking. It dis-
cusses in detail the three different types of mediums employed to offer
Mobile Banking. It also entails a detailed overview on the current Mobile
Banking offers and mediums employed by a selected group of 50 German
and international banks.
Chapter 8 deals with the advantages of Mobile Banking from the per-
spective of banks. It illustrates individual advantages with certain exam-
ples.
Chapters 6, 7 and 8 also help in identifying relevant Research Issues that
build the basis for subsequent empirical surveys. Altogether 20 open ques-
tions were formulated for the purpose of empirical surveys. Questions re-
lated to a particular field of interest were bundled into a Research Issue. All
in all 10 different Research Issues were identified.
Chapter 9 builds the core of this study. It contains detailed, first-hand
empirical information, e.g. on the acceptance of various Mobile Banking
services, customers’ willingness to pay for them, and the perception of
banks including the objectives that they seek to follow by offering mobile
services.
Chapter 10 makes a strategic assessment of the survey results and seeks
to interpret implications of these results and educe recommendations.
The last chapter contains final conclusions and a short outlook regarding
expected future developments in the field of Mobile Banking.
Structure of the Study 23
This study comes to the conclusion that Mobile Banking, as an interest-
ing application in Mobile Commerce, is winning non-negligible acceptance
and enjoys sufficient demand. Banks are seeing themselves increasingly
forced to include Mobile Banking in their product portfolios to avoid nega-
tive differentiation vis-à-vis rivals. Apart from this strategic relevance,
there are other financial incentives, too. Their actual scope however de-
pends, amongst others, on the product portfolio and the customer structure
of individual banks.
The authors would like to sincerely thank all those who have contrib-
uted, directly or indirectly, to the successful completion of this study. Apart
from those who contributed to the successful organisation of this project
(see “Acknowledgements”) a number of representatives of various banks
and other firms took pains to provide candid help and valuable expertise to
this research project.
The authors would like to thank them personally as well as on behalf of
the research project team. A detailed list of surveyed institutions and their
representatives is attached as Appendix-A.
2 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
In the following we characterise the concept of Mobile Commerce and
distinguish it from the concept of Mobile Business. We further examine it
in the more common contexts of Electronic Commerce and Electronic
Business and present an overview establishing a holistic perspective of
Mobile Commerce.
2.1 The Conceptual Background and Perspective
Before defining the mobile aspects of commerce (Mobile Commerce) and
distinguishing them from the mobile aspects of business (Mobile Business),
it is imperative to establish working definitions of the terms “commerce”
and “business”, as they seem to have transcended their dictionary mean-
ings4 and acquired new significance since the advent of the Internet econ-
omy.
In this section we further differentiate between the terms “electronic”
and “mobile”, so as to clarify the respective concepts by showing their
similarities and highlighting their differences.
Difference between “Business” and “Commerce”
The term “business”, in this study, refers to all activities undertaken by a
firm in order to produce and sell goods and services. These activities are,
thus, not exclusively of “commercial” nature but also include other pro-
cesses such as procurement, production, customer relationship management
(CRM) and human resources management (HRM).
4 The Oxford dictionary [2002] describes “commerce” as “financial transactions” and “busi-
ness” among others as “selling/purchasing of goods”.
26 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
The term “commerce”, in this work, refers to selling and purchasing of
goods and services in both business- and consumer segments and to activi-
ties directly related with such transactions. Examples of such activities are
marketing measures and after-sales services. The related activities are in-
cluded so as to take into account that not each and every transfer of owner-
ship or rights to use a good or service must trigger a monetary transaction.
The term “commerce” is, hence, seen as an integral subset of the
broader term “business”. In accordance with this approach Mobile Com-
merce is regarded as an integral subset of Mobile Business [Buse, 2002,
p. 92; UNCTAD, 2004, p. 25]. Electronic Commerce is correspondingly
seen as an integral subset of Electronic Business.
Difference between “Electronic” and “Mobile” Aspects
To understand the difference between Electronic- and Mobile Commerce or
between Electronic- and Mobile Business it is essential to understand the
similarities and differences between the terms “electronic” and “mobile”.
The adjective “electronic”, used within the specific contexts of “Elec-
tronic Business” or “Electronic Commerce”, signifies an “anytime access”
to business processes managed by computer-mediated networks5. Further-
more, the access to such networks is, in this case, stationary6. The services
are, therefore, not available independent of the geographic location
[Hohenberg/Rufera, 2004, p. 35].
The adjective “mobile”, used within the specific contexts of “Mobile
Commerce” or “Mobile Business”, signifies an “anytime and anywhere
access” to business processes managed by computer-mediated networks.
The access takes place using mobile communication networks, making the
availment of these services independent of the geographic location of the
user [Stanoevska-Slabeva, 2003, p. 2; Hohenberg/Rufera, 2004, p. 35].
5 Computer-mediated networks are “electronically linked devices that communicate interac-
tively over network channels” [Mesenbourg, 1999, p. 3]. (Tele-) Communication net-
works are, in turn, used to provide access to these computer-mediated networks.
6 The conventional access to the Internet using fixed-line communication networks, such as
Dial-up connections or Local Area Networks (LAN), is referred to as stationary access.
This form of access is also called the “stationary” or “immobile” Internet.
The Conceptual Background and Perspective 27
At this point it would be useful to differentiate between the terms “mo-
bile” and “wireless”. As opposed to the term “mobile” that signifies an
anytime, anywhere access to computer-mediated networks, “wireless” is
just a method of communication between electronic devices, e.g. with the
help of infrared interfaces [Lehner, 2002, pp. 7-8]. Whereas a mobile de-
vice is per se wireless, not every wireless device may be suitable for feasi-
ble mobile applications [Anckar/D’Incau, 2002, p. 2]. For example, Wire-
less Local Area Networks (WLAN) with a limited range of maximum
300 metres cannot support feasible mobile applications.7
Hypotheses about the Mobile Commerce Perspective
Mobile Commerce is closely related to Electronic Commerce, since the
services offered in Electronic- as well as Mobile Commerce are handled
electronically by computer-mediated networks and are accessible through
communication networks. The only difference in the procedure to Elec-
tronic Commerce is that in Mobile Commerce the communication networks
are accessed through mobile electronic devices.
There exist two different paradigms about the relationship of Mobile
Commerce to Electronic Commerce. The first paradigm classifies Mobile
Commerce simply as an extension of Electronic Commerce; the second
paradigm regards Mobile Commerce as an independent business field and
consequently as an alternative mechanism to Electronic Commerce.
That both of these approaches are principally right and hence, individu-
ally, too one-sided, can be derived from the following facts:
1. Many of the services offered by Mobile Commerce may as well be
availed using the “immobile” (stationary) Internet, e.g. purchasing an
entrance ticket to a stadium.
2. At the same time Mobile Commerce opens new business opportunities
by offering innovative, location-based and context-sensitive services
that the “immobile” Internet is not able to offer. For example the loca-
7 The WLAN technology is described in section 4.2.1.
28 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
tion of the nearest Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in real time8 can
only be provided by determining the geographic position of the user.
This discussion shows that an exclusivist approach is erroneous and an
integrative approach is, therefore, required. As a result of this discussion
we can propose the following hypotheses:
1. Electronic Commerce is an integral subset of Electronic Business;
2. Mobile Commerce is an integral subset of Mobile Business;
3. Mobile Commerce shares a subset with Electronic Commerce.
In the following we examine these hypotheses regarding their correctness.
For this purpose it is essential to define these terms, at first, individually
and then to examine their complex relationships to each other in an integra-
tive and holistic perspective.
2.1.1 Defining Electronic Business and Electronic Commerce
In the following we describe the earlier mentioned electronic aspects of the
Internet economy, namely Electronic Business and Electronic Commerce.
Electronic Business
Electronic Business is often referred to as “E-Business” or “eBusiness”.
This book works with the full form “Electronic Business”. Other forms are
however left unaltered if cited from a reference.
The prevailing view in the academic literature regarding Electronic
Business is reflected in the following definition:
“E-Business is the integration of systems, processes, organisations,
value chains and entire markets using Internet-based and related
technologies and concepts.” [Stanoevska-Slabeva, 2003, p. 2]
The United States (US) Bureau of the Census, the statistical division of the
US Department of Commerce, measures Electronic Business as follows:
8 Real time is a “form of information processing where output is generated nearly simulta-
neously with the corresponding input. Used mostly where the results of the computation
are used to influence a process while it is occurring.” [Globaltec, 2004, p. 1]
The Conceptual Background and Perspective 29
“Electronic Business (e-business) is any process that a business or-
ganization conducts over a computer-mediated network. Business
organizations include any for-profit, governmental or nonprofit
entity. Their processes include production-, customer- and internal
or management-focussed business processes.” [Mesenbourg,
2001, p. 4]
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) Electronic Business processes include Customer Acquisition
and Retention, Electronic Commerce, Order Fulfilment and Tracking, In-
bound and Outbound Logistics, Inventory Control, Finance-, Budget- and
Account Management, HRM, Product Service and Support, Research and
Development as well as Knowledge Management [UNCTAD, 2004, p. 26].
Electronic Commerce
Electronic Commerce is often referred to as “E-Commerce” or “eCom-
merce”. This book works with the full form “Electronic Commerce”. Other
forms are however left unaltered if cited from a reference.
Electronic Commerce has found much more attention in the literature
than Electronic Business, owing to its proximity to the consumer. There are
many definitions of Electronic Commerce in circulation, with each one
emphasising some different aspects of Electronic Commerce.9
A very simple definition is delivered by Kalakota and Robinson:
“E-Commerce is simply the buying and selling of products and
services over the Web.” [Kalakota/Robinson, 2002, p. 8]
The prevailing definitions may be divided in two primary categories:
The first category works with a narrow, restrictive definition, requiring
the whole transaction to take place in electronic form and having a mone-
tary character. For example, the German Federal Statistical Office report-
edly uses the following definition for Electronic Commerce:10
9 For a detailed discussion of different views, see [OECD, 1999].
10 According to Fischer [2003, p. 1] this definition was worked out by a Commission of
Experts, set up at the request of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour.
The German Federal Statistical Office (“Statistisches Bundesamt”) does not provide pub-
lic definitions of these terms at its homepage. (Site accessed on 23.05.2005).
30 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
“Transactions are regarded as Electronic Commerce, when the of-
fer for sale as well as the purchase or the actual availment of a
product or service is carried out electronically, with the help of a
computer-mediated network, against monetary payment.”
[Fischer, 2003, p. 1] [Abridged translation by authors]11
This definition seems to be too restrictive as it does not recognise the fact
that just some parts of a transaction might also be carried out electronically
without having to process all the steps of a value-chain in that form. Fur-
ther, the emphasis on the monetary character ignores the commercial nature
of marketing measures (transactions carried out with the intent to sell a
product or service) and after-sales services (transactions carried out in con-
tinuation of a preceding monetary transaction), both important features of
commercial transactions.
The second category works with a broader definition of Electronic Com-
merce, as can be seen in the definition used by the US Bureau of the Census:
“Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is any transaction completed
over a computer-mediated network that involves the transfer of
ownership or rights to use goods or services. […] Completed
transactions may have a zero price (e.g., a free software down-
load).” [Mesenbourg, 2001, p. 4]
Also according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Devel-
opment (OECD) it is the method used to place or receive an order, not the
mode of payment or the channel of the delivery that determines whether a
transaction is considered as an Electronic Commerce transaction [OECD,
2002, p. 61].
The primary criteria for Electronic Commerce, thus, are the (at least par-
tially) electronic form of a transaction and the transfer of ownership or
rights to use a good or service whether against monetary payment or other-
wise.
11 The original wordings in German are as follows:
“Unter Electronic Commerce fallen solche Transaktionen auf einem Markt, bei denen nicht
nur das Angebot elektronisch offeriert, sondern auch die Bestellung bzw. die Inanspruch-
nahme elektronisch unter Verwendung eines computergestützten Netzwerkes erfolgt, und
durch die der Austausch von wirtschaftlichen Gütern gegen Entgelt (z.B. Kauf, Miete,
Pacht) begründet wird.“ [Fischer, 2003, p. 1]
The Conceptual Background and Perspective 31
This discussion shows that our first hypothesis of Electronic Commerce
being an integral subset of Electronic Business was correct, since all the
aspects of Electronic Commerce also take place in Electronic Business but
Electronic Business has a larger scope than Electronic Commerce.
2.1.2 Defining Mobile Business and Mobile Commerce
In the following we describe the earlier mentioned mobile aspects of the
Internet-economy, namely Mobile Business and Mobile Commerce.
Mobile Business
Mobile Business is often referred to as “M-Business” or “mBusiness”. In
this study we work with the full form “Mobile Business”. Other forms are
however left unaltered if cited from a reference.
Mobile Business is often described as an extension of the traditional
Electronic Business to wireless devices [Magic, 2000, p. 3] or as an addi-
tional channel for it [Stanoevska-Slabeva, 2004, p. 463]. Yet others regard
it as “the application infrastructure required to maintain business relation-
ships and sell information, services, and commodities by means of the mo-
bile devices”. [Kolakata/Robinson, 2002, p. 8]. The UNCTAD defines Mo-
bile Business in the following terms:
“Mobile Business involves business-related communication among
individuals and companies where financial transactions do not
necessarily occur.” [UNCTAD, 2002, p. 89]
Thus, we can regard Mobile Business as an extension of Electronic Busi-
ness that also provides for some new, unique features, such as location-
based, context-sensitive services accessible via Mobile Internet and hitherto
unknown in Electronic Business. Mobile Business shares, but is not limited
to, some common features with Electronic Business that also provides a
vast range of services not possible with Mobile Business, as can be seen in
figure 1.
Mobile Commerce
Mobile Commerce is often referred to as “M-Commerce” or “mCom-
merce”. This book, as with other such terms, works with the full form “Mo-
32 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
bile Commerce”. Other forms are however left unaltered if cited from a
reference.
Mobile Commerce is also known as Mobile Electronic Commerce
[Zhang et al., 2003, p. 52]. Mobile Commerce transactions are basically
electronic transactions conducted using a mobile terminal and a wireless
network. Mobile terminals include all portable devices such as mobile tele-
phones and PDAs, as well as devices “mounted in the vehicles that are
capable of accessing wireless networks” and perform Mobile Commerce
transactions [Veijalainen et al., 2003, p. 2].
A simple definition of Mobile Commerce describes it as “any transac-
tion with a monetary value that is conducted via a mobile telecommunica-
tions network” [Müller-Veerse, 2000, p. 7]. This definition, though simple,
is problematic on more than one count:
1. First of all it fails to distinguish between Mobile Business and Mobile
Commerce.
2. Secondly, it requires the transaction to have a monetary nature. This is
not appropriate, as already shown in section 2.1.1.
3. Finally, it creates an impression that transactions have to be completed
exclusively via mobile telecommunication networks. This prerequisite
restricts the scope of Mobile Commerce to very few digitally deliverable
“immaterial” products such as “information”. A vast range of transac-
tions, initiated via mobile electronic devices and involving “material”
products is, thus, falsely excluded from Mobile Commerce.
Some other definitions, often cited in the literature, tend to ignore Telemat-
ics (described in section 5.1), an important feature of Mobile Commerce.
Such definitions concentrate on the appliance of mobile hand-held devices.
For instance:
“M-commerce is the use of mobile (hand-held) devices to commu-
nicate and conduct transactions through public and private net-
works […].” [Balasubramanian et al., 2002, p. 349]
“M-Commerce is […] the buying and selling of goods and ser-
vices, using wireless hand-held devices such as mobile telephones
or personal data assistants (PDAs).” [UNCTAD, 2002, p. 89]
Such definitions, thus, only provide incomplete, often one-sided descrip-
tions of the phenomenon of Mobile Commerce. These definitions, usually
The Conceptual Background and Perspective 33
formulated in the initial phase of Mobile Commerce, do not seem to be
appropriate for an extensive study of Mobile Commerce today, even when
they provide useful insights for understanding Mobile Commerce.
It is therefore essential to formulate a working definition of Mobile
Commerce that takes all of the above-discussed factors into account. For
the purpose of study we define Mobile Commerce as following:
Mobile Commerce is any transaction, involving the transfer of
ownership or rights to use goods and services, which is initiated
and/or completed by using mobile access to computer-mediated
networks with the help of an electronic device.
Characteristics of this Definition
1. The primary criterion of mobility is the method of access:
Not all mobile devices provide for a mobile access to communication
networks. For example, laptops – a mobile device – generally use sta-
tionary access to networks. Even when a laptop connects to a wireless
network, its usage, while on the move, is limited owing to factors such
as size and weight. On the other hand Telematics devices mounted in
vehicles are capable of providing a truly mobile access to telecommuni-
cation networks.
The computer-mediated networks may be partially or even fully wired,
as long as they are able to receive and handle requests sent by mobile
electronic devices.
2. Some parts of a transaction may be processed in a stationary sector. For
example, ordering a piece of clothes using a mobile phone is very much
a Mobile Commerce transaction, even when the transaction is processed
by stationary computer-systems, sent by normal post to the customer
and paid against an invoice. Important is only that at least the initiation
or the completion is carried out using a mobile access via an electronic
device.
3. The completed transaction need not have a monetary character, as long
as the transaction is carried out as a marketing measure or as an after-
sales service.
This discussion shows that our second hypothesis of Mobile Commerce
being an integral subset of Mobile Business was also correct, since all the
34 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
aspects of Mobile Commerce also take place in Mobile Business but Mo-
bile Business has a larger scope than Mobile Commerce.
This discussion also proves our third hypothesis of Mobile Commerce
sharing a subset with Electronic Commerce to be correct, since they both
offer a similar set of services in addition to services unique to each one of
them.
2.1.3 The Mobile Commerce Perspective
Figure 1: The Mobile Commerce perspective
The graphic illustrates the following facts:
1. Electronic Business and Mobile Business offer many similar services in
both commercial and non-commercial areas. Respective examples are
sale/purchase of goods and services on the one hand and CRM on the
other.
2. Electronic Business offers additional services, not feasible with Mobile
Business, e.g. coordination of Research & Development activities.
3. Mobile Business, too, offers unique services, not feasible with conven-
tional Electronic Business, e.g. context-sensitive CRM.
4. Electronic Commerce is an integral subset of Electronic Business.
5. Mobile Commerce is an integral subset of Mobile Business.
The Features of Mobile Commerce 35
6. Electronic Commerce and Mobile Commerce offer many similar ser-
vices, e.g. booking an entrance ticket for a football match.
7. Electronic Commerce offers additional services, not feasible with Mo-
bile Commerce, e.g. selling of high-quality, non-standardised products
requires an intensive presentation not feasible on mobile devices.
8. Mobile Commerce, too, offers unique context-sensitive, location-based
services, not feasible with Electronic Commerce, e.g. search for the
nearest ATM specific to a dynamic location.
This discussion establishes a Mobile Commerce perspective and distin-
guishes it from other related terms. The concept of Mobile Commerce is
now further characterised in the following section.
2.2 The Features of Mobile Commerce
Mobile Commerce is characterised by some unique features that equip it
with certain advantages against conventional forms of commercial transac-
tions, including Electronic Commerce [Müller-Veerse, 2000, pp. 8-9; Ac-
centure, 2001, pp. 4-5; Buse, 2002, pp. 92-95; Kemper/Wolf, 2002, p. 402]:
1. Ubiquity: Ubiquity means that the user can avail of services and carry
out transactions largely independent of his current geographic location
(“anywhere” feature). This feature can be useful in many situations, e.g.
to cross-check prices while standing in a supermarket.
2. Immediacy: Closely related to the feature of ubiquity is the possibility of
real-time availment of services (“anytime” feature). This feature is par-
ticularly attractive for services that are time-critical and demand a fast
reaction, e.g. stock market information for a broker. Additionally, the
consumer can buy goods and services, as and when he feels the need.
The immediacy of transaction helps to capture consumers at the moment
of intention so that sales are not lost in the discrepancy between the
point of intention and that of the actual purchase.
3. Localisation: Positioning technologies, such as the Global Positioning
System (GPS), allow companies to offer goods and services to the user
specific to his current location. Location based services can be, thus, of-
36 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
fered to meet consumers’ needs and wishes for localised content and
services.
4. Instant connectivity: Ever since the introduction of the General Packet
Radio Service (GPRS)12 mobile devices are constantly “online”, i.e. in
touch with the network (“always-on” feature). This feature brings con-
venience to the user, as time-consuming dial-up or boot processes are
not necessary.
5. Pro-active functionality: Mobile Commerce opens, by the virtue of its
ability to be immediate, local and personal, new avenues for push-
marketing13, such as content- and product offers. Services like “Opt-in
advertising” can be offered, so that a user may choose the products, ser-
vices and companies which he wants to be kept informed about. The
Short Message Service (SMS)14 can be used to send brief text messages
to consumers informing them of relevant local offerings that best suit
their needs. This feature ensures that the “right” (relevant) information
can be provided to the user at the “right” place, at the “right” time. On
the other hand, the user does not have to fear missing some potentially
crucial information or getting it too late.
6. Simple authentication procedure: Mobile telecommunication devices
function with an electronic chip called Subscriber Identity Module
(SIM).15 The SIM is registered with the network operator and the owner
is thus unambiguously identifiable. The clear identification of the user
in combination with an individual Personal Identification Number (PIN)
12 The GPRS Technology is described in detail in the section 4.1.3.
13 Push-marketing refers to activities of a vendor (e.g. sending out advertisement and other
product-related information to the customer) that are carried out with an intention to pro-
mote a product or service. The term signifies that the information is “pushed” to the next
link of the value chain.
14 SMS refers to the ability of mobile telephones to send and receive text messages. The text
comprises of alphanumeric combinations (words and numbers). Each short message may
comprise of up to 160 Latin or up to 70 non-Latin (e.g. Chinese) characters [Buckingham,
2000b, p. 2].
15 SIM – synonymous with the “Smart Card” – is required by all mobile telephone custom-
ers in order to operate their phone. It carries authentication, billing and other personalised
information about the individual subscriber [UMTS Glossary, 2005, p. 1].
The Specific Advantages of Mobile Commerce 37
makes any further time-consuming, complicated and potentially ineffi-
cient authentication process redundant.
These unique features of Mobile Commerce can provide the user with some
concrete and specific advantages. The following section describes some of
them.
2.3 The Specific Advantages of Mobile Commerce
Mobile commerce, on account of its earlier discussed features, can provide
users with additional, value-added utility, particularly in following situa-
tions [Accenture, 2001, p. 5; Anckar / D’Incau, 2002, p. 3; Buse, 2002,
p. 93]:
1. Context-specific services: Mobile Commerce makes it possible to offer
location based services, which are specific to a given context (e.g. time
of the day, location and the interests of the user). Such services offer
new opportunities for personalised push-marketing in close proximity to
the vendor thereby increasing the probability of sales. It enhances brand
presence and thus encourages consumers to remain loyal to brands they
are acquainted with.
2. Time-critical situations: The ubiquity and immediacy of Mobile Com-
merce allows the user to perform urgent tasks in an efficient manner,
e.g. fast reaction to stock market developments irrespective of his cur-
rent geographic location. It is also useful in emergency situations.
3. Spontaneous decisions and needs: Spontaneous needs are not externally
triggered and generally involve decisions that do not require a very care-
ful consideration, e.g. purchase decisions involving small amounts of
money. An example of such a service would be reserving a place in a
restaurant or cinema spontaneously. Users may also be provided with
access to entertainment content, e.g. horoscope, music or sport news
while on the move and with free time on the hand.
4. Efficiency increase: Mobile Commerce helps increase the productivity
of the workforce by increasing the efficiency of their daily routines.
Time-pressured consumers (employees) can use ‘dead spots’ in the day,
e.g. during the daily travel to and from workplace, more effectively.
38 The Concept of Mobile Commerce
This can be utilised, e.g. to check e-mails, get current news, order prod-
ucts and carry out bank transactions.
The above discussion shows that Mobile Commerce has the potential to
offer some new, hitherto unknown services to users on account of its
unique features.
Having defined Mobile Commerce and its utilities, we describe in the
next chapter its legal (regulatory) framework, since the potential services
have to be carried out in keeping with the provisions of the law.
3 The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce
Mobile Commerce, similar to Electronic Commerce, requires transparent
and clear regulations as the contracting parties do not necessarily know
each other and there is hardly, if any, face-to-face contact while negotiating
an agreement [Wirtz, 2001, p. 572]. Personal contact is not feasible owing
to a high number of participants – customers as well as vendors – in the
market. This high participation results from the easy and relatively inex-
pensive access to telecommunication networks, low market barriers and the
cross-regional nature of applications.
This anonymity, however, makes many potential customers suspicious
of such technologies. The worry about the privacy and safety of personal
data16 (e.g. credit card information) and about the precision of the transmit-
ted data and its potential misuse while carrying out electronic transactions
is well-known.
The contracting parties, therefore, should be able to count upon the law
to enforce the provisions of contracts that are concluded using (mobile)
electronic devices, if required. Further, the customer should be able to trust
the privacy of his personal sphere. A clearly defined regulatory framework
is, hence, indispensable to boost consumer confidence and increase accep-
tance amongst broad sections of the society as well as to ensure smooth
functioning of Mobile Commerce.
The legal regulations imposed by the lawmaker, thus, intend to safe-
guard and balance both consumer- and business interests by setting rules
and regulating the market as well as the usage of existing and emerging
technologies. They impose the highest level of restrictions that govern le-
gally carried-out transactions [Veijalainen et al., 2003, p. 4]. Regulations
16 The EU defines personal data as “any information relating to any identified or identifiable
natural person” (EU Regulation 45/2001, Article 2).
40 The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce
applicable to Mobile Commerce are generally guided by five principles
[Heinemann et al., 2004]:
1. Legal enforceability of contracts
2. Consumer protection
3. Privacy of data (no unnecessary, unauthorised data collection)
4. Confidentiality of data (protecting authorised data from misuse)
5. Right of self-determination (to carry out or reject a communication)
Mobile Commerce, being a relatively recent phenomenon, has not yet at-
tracted the attention of the lawmaker as an independent business field. Its
transactions are basically governed by the Electronic Commerce and Tele-
communication regulations [Heinemann et al., 2004]. The Federal Republic
of Germany has formulated regulations that are expected to provide a reli-
able and modern legal framework in order to better exploit the benefits of
new technologies while ensuring a high degree of consumer protection, see
[BMWA, 2004, pp. 1-2].
Many of these regulations have their origins in multilateral treaties, such
as those of the European Union (EU) or the United Nations Organisation
(UNO). Also other international organisations such as the OECD, the
World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Or-
ganisation (WIPO) have been actively supporting member countries in
formulating regulatory frameworks. It may, hence, be reasonably assumed
that the regulatory concepts, in principle, have an international character,
even if the degree of regulations might differ across nations. This should, at
least, be true for countries actively participating in international trade, i.e.
for most of the developed and transit economies.
The EU has issued twelve directives stipulating the regulatory frame-
work for legally-binding electronic commercial contracts, determination of
jurisdiction and applicability, consumer- and data protection, protection of
intellectual property rights (IPR), dispute resolution, cyber crimes and taxa-
tion regimes, among others, to ensure legal certainty and consumer confi-
dence [EU, 2005, p. 1]. These EU directives stipulate the regulatory
framework for member countries while ensuring compliance to interna-
tional treaties, most importantly the “Model Law on Electronic Commerce”
passed by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
(UNCITRAL).
The Specific Advantages of Mobile Commerce 41
The law-regime for Electronic- and Mobile Commerce in Germany is
organised under the ambit of The Information and Telecommunication
Services Act (“Informations- und Kommunikationsdienste-Gesetz”, known
as IuKDG). This act consists of a large subset of related laws [BMWA,
2004, pp. 1-2; Heinemann et al., 2004]. The cornerstones of this law-
regime are:
1. The Act on Legal Framework Conditions for Electronic Commerce
(“Gesetz über rechtliche Rahmenbedingungen für den elektronischen
Geschäftsverkehr”, also known as “Elektronischer Geschäftsverkehr-
Gesetz” or EGG)
2. The Teleservices Act (“Teledienstgesetz”, known as TDG)
3. The Teleservices Data Protection Act (“Teledienstedatenschutzgesetz”,
known as TDDSG)
4. The Conditional Access Services Protection Act (“Zugangskontroll-
diensteschutzgesetz”, known as ZKDSG)
5. The Interstate Agreement on Media Services (“Mediendienstestaats-
vertrag”, known as MDStV)
Some other relevant laws that are, however, not part of the IuKDG are:
1. The Fair Competition Act (“Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb”,
known as UWG),
2. The Act against Restraints of Competition (“Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbs-
beschränkungen”, known as GWB),
3. The Act of Distant Sales (“Fernabsatzgesetz”)17,
4. The Copyright Act (“Gesetz über Urheberrecht und verwandte Schutz-
rechte”, known as “UrhG”),
5. The Copyright Administration Act (“Gesetz über die Wahrnehmung von
Urheberrechten und verwandten Schutzrechten”, known as UrhWahrnG”),
17 Germany’s Act of Distant Sales (“Fernabsatzgesetz”) lapsed in December 2001. The new,
modified regulations follow an EU directive on Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC). The
regulations are now integrated in the Book 1 (General Part) and Book 2 (Law of Obliga-
tions) of the German Civil Code (“Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch”) [BMJ, 2000, pp. 1-14;
Becker, 2002, p. 1].
42 The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce
6. The Federal Data Protection Act (“Bundesdatenschutzgesetz”, known as
BDSG”).
This regulatory framework ensures legal certainty to customers and vendors
alike. The following section describes some basic regulations relevant for Mo-
bile Commerce transactions. This information is aimed at providing a general
overview of the legal framework governing Mobile Commerce. It neither in-
tends nor claims to provide all-exhaustive information on the subject.
3.1 Regulations on Legal Enforceability of Contracts
A contract is legally binding when both contracting parties make legally
admissible, mutual and corresponding declarations of intent, i.e. a quotation
by a prospective customer for acquiring a good or service and the accep-
tance thereof by the vendor [BMWA, 2005, pp. 1-2]. For Electronic Com-
merce, and therefore for Mobile Commerce too, the following specifica-
tions apply additionally:
1. The declaration of intent by the customer via electronic means is legally
admissible, provided it is carried out by an unambiguous and deliberate
act, e.g. reconfirmation of an order by sending an affirmation code via
SMS to the vendor.
2. The presentation of goods and services on electronic platforms is in
legal sense nothing more than an invitation to potential customers to
submit their quotations. Only if the vendor accepts the quotation it can
be considered a binding order.
3. The vendor has to acknowledge the receipt of the order without undue
delay and by electronic means. The order and the acknowledgement of
the receipt are deemed to have been received if the addressee can rea-
sonably be assumed to be able to access them.
4. Erroneous, or inadvertently sent orders (e.g. owing to a typing mistake)
may be revoked. In this case the customer may, however, be required to
compensate the damages that arise for the vendor.
5. Electronic contracts may be revoked, and the purchased good returned,
by the customer within fourteen days of the agreement without specify-
ing any reason. This regulation does not apply for non-durable goods
Regulations on Consumer- and Data Protection 43
(e.g. food items) or mediums of data storage that might be copied (e.g.
unsealed copies of audios, videos or software).
6. The vendor must identify himself clearly and inform the customer about
relevant characteristics of the offered goods or services.
7. The vendor must inform the consumer about the final price of a good or
service. The quoted price must include all taxes and other costs. Excep-
tions are only allowed while dealing with business customers.
8. If these regulations are violated (e.g. failure to inform the customer of
his right to return the good within fourteen days) the contract is deemed
null and void and the good may be returned at any time.
9. The customer must be informed of the general terms of the contract
(“fine print”) before the contract is concluded. The “fine print” should
be easily and anytime retrievable.
10. International transactions are governed by two different principles. All
the commercial transactions taking place in the business-to-business
(B2B) segment are governed by the “country of origin” principle, i.e.
the transactions are subject to the regulations of the country in which the
vendor is located. Commercial transactions in the business-to-consumer
(B2C) segment are on the other hand governed by the “country of desti-
nation” principle, i.e. the transactions are subject to the law of the coun-
try in which the consumer is residing.
3.2 Regulations on Consumer- and Data Protection
The protection of the private sphere of the consumer and the prevention of
unauthorised use of personal data have been of primary concern for the
lawmaker in order to safeguard public interest on the one hand and to in-
crease the consumer confidence in the electronic form of commerce, on the
other. For this purpose several stringent regulatory norms have been put in
force, e.g.:
1. Personal data may only be collected, processed or used with the explicit
consent of the user.
2. If the user is offered the choice to give his consent electronically, the
provider/vendor must guarantee that:
44 The Regulatory Framework of Mobile Commerce
3. such consent can only be given by an unambiguous and deliberate act by
the user;
4. the text of such consent can be accessed at any time by the user.
5. The consent may be withdrawn by the user at any time.
6. Personal data can not be processed for any other purpose than the one
for which it has been explicitly collected.
7. Separate processing of user-data for the use of different services.
8. Data that is no more required must be deleted without delay.
9. Customer profiles, even if anonymous, can only be created with the
consent of the customer.
10. The user should be able to utilise and pay for the services anonymously
or under a pseudonym, if technically possible.
11. The user may demand from the provider information on the data stored
on him or her.
12. Violation of these regulations by the provider or the failure to inform the
user of his rights constitutes an administrative offence, punishable with
a monetary fine, not exceeding fifty thousand Euros.
These regulations are basic, general norms. The law provides for excep-
tions in extraordinary situations. Such exceptions may be permitted by gov-
ernment authorities in keeping with the provisions of the law.
3.3 Categories excluded from Mobile Commerce
Some of the very few categories for which EU member states are authorised
by the virtue of the EU directive on Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC Arti-
cle 9 § 2) to prohibit conclusion of contracts by electronic means are:
1. Contracts that create or transfer rights in real estate, except for rental
rights.
2. Contracts requiring by law the involvement of courts, public authorities
or professions exercising public authority, e.g. notaries.
3. Contracts governed by family law or by the law of succession.
Categories excluded from Mobile Commerce 45
This discussion shows the legal framework governing Electronic Com-
merce and subsequently Mobile Commerce in Germany. The framework
principles are however, as shown earlier, of international character and
relevant not only within the geographic boundaries of the Federal Republic
of Germany.
This information, though not all-exhaustive, provides a fair overview of
the legal restrictions that must be kept in mind while designing mobile ap-
plications.
The next chapter describes the existing technological framework of Mo-
bile Commerce, including a short overview of historical and expected fu-
ture developments and trends in mobile technologies.
A-Network
1958-1977
B-Network
1972-1995
C-Network
1985-2000
GSM
since 1992
HSCSD
since 1999
GPRS
since 2001
EDGE
since 2002
UMTS
since 2004
1st Generation
2nd Generation
2.5 Generation
3rd Generation
A-Network
1958-1977
B-Network
1972-1995
C-Network
1985-2000
GSM
since 1992
HSCSD
since 1999
GPRS
since 2001
EDGE
since 2002
UMTS
since 2004
1st Generation
2nd Generation
2.5 Generation
3rd Generation
4 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce
Fast, secure and user-friendly mobile telecommunication technologies are a cru-
cial factor for the commercial success of Mobile Commerce, since it is largely
dependent on the acceptance of Mobile Commerce applications amongst tar-
geted consumer groups and relevant business firms. This chapter provides an
overview of technological standards that have either contributed to the develop-
ment of Mobile Commerce or that can be expected to shape its future.
4.1 Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission
The mobile (wireless) telecommunication systems (networks) are generally cate-
gorised in three broad generations of technologies. Between the second and the
third generation a “second and half” (2.5) sub-generation is supposed to exist,
that bridges the two neighbouring generations (see figure 2). These generations
and their technologies are described in the following sections.
Figure 2: Generations of mobile telecommunication standards in Germany
[Graphic modelled after: Schell, 2002, p. 78]
48 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce
4.1.1 The First Generation (1G)
The beginning of wireless communication in Germany can be traced back
to 1926 as the German Railways introduced a wireless telephone service for
first-class passengers on its Berlin-Hamburg route [IMZF, 2005a, p. 1].
The mobile telecommunication gained currency, however, only with the
introduction of the A-Network in 1958, which was followed by a more
advanced B-Network in 1972. A country-wide coverage was provided later
by the C-Network18 in 1985 [IMZF, 2005a, pp. 1-2].19 In the United States
of America (USA) a comparable system called the Advanced Mobile Phone
System (AMPS) was introduced in 1983. Some more standards that belong
to 1G are the Total Access Communications System (TACS), the Nordic
Mobile Telephone (NMT) system and the Japan Digital Cellular (JDC)
network system [Elliot/Phillips, 2004, p. 7; Toh, 2002, p. 1].
The first generation systems were voice-oriented analogue mobile and
cordless telephones [Krishnamurthy/Pahlavan, 2002, p. 9]. Such systems
are not suitable for modern Mobile Commerce services on account of low
quality of transmission and their exclusive voice-orientation, i.e. the inabil-
ity to transmit non-voice data [Geer/Gross, 2001, p. 17]. 1G is hence not
relevant for this study.
4.1.2 The Second Generation (2G)
The second generation (2G) systems are based on the digital multiple ac-
cess technology,20 e.g. the Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)21 and
18 There are A-, B-, C-, D- and E-Networks. No explanation is found in the literature about
why the networks were named like this. An explanation could be Analogue (A-) and Digi-
tal (D-) Networks. That however does not explain the B-, C- and E-Networks.
19 For historical development of 1G systems in Germany see [IZMF, 2005a, pp. 1-3].
20 For technical details see [Krishnamurthy/Pahlavan, 2002, pp. 12-18].
21 TDMA is a technique for multiplexing multiple users onto a single channel on a single
carrier by splitting the carrier into time-slots and allocating these on as-needed basis, so
that three calls can share a single frequency channel without interfering with one another
[GSM Glossary, 2005, p. 21; Ericsson Glossary, 2004, p. 12].
Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission 49
the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)22, and currently worldwide in
use They use digital encoding and support transmission of not only voice
but also of other data, e.g. fax and SMS. They make use of encryption
techniques to enhance confidentiality of the transmitted data. Such features
are prerequisites for mobile services. Examples of 2G systems are the
Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), Personal Access Com-
munication Systems (PACS) and Digital European Cordless Telephone
(DECT) [Toh, 2002, p. 1-2].
Since GSM has come to be “the” dominating standard in the world in
general and in Europe in particular, we explain GSM and one of its off-
shoot, the High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD), in some details.23
4.1.2.1 Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM)
GSM, first introduced in 1991, is an open, non-proprietary and digital sys-
tem of second generation [GSM Glossary, 2005, p. 11; Ericsson Glossary,
2004, p. 6]. Originally developed as a European standard,24 it has come to
be the most widely deployed global standard.25 Some of its basic features
are [Schell, 2002, p. 51]:
1. A broad offer on voice and data communication services;
2. Compatibility with fixed-line networks, e.g. Analogue and Integrated
Service Digital Networks (ISDN) due to standardised interfaces;
3. Automatic roaming26 and handover27 procedures;
22 CDMA is a digital technology that utilises a single frequency band for all traffic, differen-
tiating the individual transmissions by assigning them unique codes before transmission
[GSM Glossary, 2005, p. 4; Ericsson Glossary, 2004, p. 3].
23 The number of subscribers of GSM-enabled mobile phones is estimated to be over
1.5 billion worldwide. This is an 85% share amongst all subscribers [Jenkins, 2004, p. 1].
24 The term GSM originally stood for “Groupe Spéciale Mobile”, i.e. for the workgroup that
developed this standard on behalf of the “Conférence Européenne des Administrations des
Postes et des Télécommunications” (CEPT), a body of European Post and Telecommuni-
cation authorities [GSM Glossary, 2005, p. 11].
25 For a comprehensive study of GSM see [Jenkins, 2004, pp. 1-40].
26 Roaming is defined as the ability of a mobile telephone subscriber to automatically make
and receive voice calls, send and receive data or access other services when travelling out-
50 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce
4. Support for various types of mobile devices, e.g. hand-held devices and
devices mounted in vehicles;
5. Independent of device manufacturers.
The first GSM-based digital network (D-Network) was launched in Ger-
many in 1992 on the frequency of 900 Megahertz (MHz) by two network
carriers, namely Deutsche Telekom AG (launched as D1) and Mannesmann
AG28 (launched as D2). In 1994 a new GSM-based digital network (E-
Network) was launched by E-Plus Service GmbH & Co. KG (launched as
E1). The E-Network is based on the Digital Cellular System (DCS) stan-
dard that utilises the frequencies of 1,800 MHz. In 1998 one more network,
Viag Intercom,29 launched its services as E2. Meanwhile D1 and D2 have
also begun using the E-Network to expand their network capacities
[At-mix.de, 2005, pp. 1-2].
Although GSM is a relatively advanced technology, it is not free of
drawbacks. One major problem is that of low actual data-transmission
rates. Though GSM is theoretically capable of a transmission rate of
22.8 kilobits per second (kbps), the actual rate of data-transmission is re-
duced to as low as 9.6 kbps as a safety-measure against possible transmis-
sion errors [Steimer et al., 2001, p. 9].
Another problem is that GSM is a circuit-switched technology. That
means a channel is assigned for the transmission of data for the complete
duration of usage. For example, if a user calls a Wireless Application Pro-
tocol (WAP)30 page on his mobile phone, a channel is assigned to this pro-
cess. This channel is kept allocated until the process is cancelled, even
when all the data has been transmitted and displayed on the screen. The
user is billed for the utilised channel-time and not for the volume of the
actually transmitted data [Ahlke, 2002, p. 9].
side the geographical coverage area of the home network by means of using a visited net-
work [GSM Glossary, 2005, p. 19].
27 Handover occurs when a call is passed from one network cell to another, even as the user
moves between cells [UMTS World, 2004, p. 3].
28 The Mannesmann AG was taken over by the Vodafone Group Plc of Great Britain in the
year 2000. The D2-Network is now run by the Vodafone D2 GmbH.
29 Since 2002 Viag Intercom is known as O2 (Germany) GmbH & Co. KG.
30 The WAP technology is described in section 4.3.1.
Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission 51
Both these factors – low actual transmission rates combined with the
circuit-switched technology – result in disproportionately high costs for the
user and discourage the usage of data services offered. Low transmission
rates are also problematic for data-intensive applications, e.g. mobile vid-
eos. Such drawbacks make GSM technology suboptimal for promoting
attractive mobile services.
4.1.2.2 High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD)
HSCSD is an enhancement of data-services based on GSM to enable higher
rates by using multiple channels. With a transmission rate of 28.8 kbps
HSCSD allows three times faster access to non-voice (data) services. 31
The bundling of channels requires functions that may dissect and con-
solidate data on and from various channels without compromising the in-
tegrity of data. This requires costly and extensive modification in the hard-
ware of mobile devices [Steimer et al., 2001, p. 34]. There are currently
few subscribers with voice terminals that support HSCSD. The other alter-
native is using a special portable computer card that has a built-in GSM
phone. This card turns laptops and other portable devices into a high-speed
mobile office with the ability to make voice-calls and carry out data trans-
fer. This facility is particularly interesting for subscribers who wish to ac-
cess the Internet, or their office Intranet, while on the move, by using a
mobile device [GSM World, 2005a, p.1].
The main drawback of HSCSD lies in the circuit-switched technology32
that makes its usage very expensive, considering that the user has to pay for
multiple channels [Steimer et al., 2002, p. 35]. HSCSD seems to be more
interesting and suitable for a laptop than for a mobile phone [Müller-
Veerse, 2000, p. 19].
4.1.3 The 2.5 Generation (2.5G)
The transit between 2G and 3G is known as 2.5G. The General Packet Ra-
dio Service (GPRS), main standard of this phase, even though based on
GSM, distinguishes itself from other circuit-switched 2G technologies, in
31 Some upgraded networks can even reach transmission rates of up to 43.2 kbps.
32 For an explanation of circuit-switched technology see GSM, section 4.1.2.1.
52 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce
that it is a packet-switched33 technology [Toh, 2002, p. 2]. Another standard
that arguably belongs to both 2.5G and 3G and builds on GPRS is the En-
hanced Data-rates for Global Evolution (EDGE).
4.1.3.1 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
GPRS is a non-voice service that allows speedy transmission of data [Buck-
ingham, 2000a, p. 2]. It is a packet-switched technology, which means that
the data to be sent is broken up into small packets, which are “routed by the
network between different destinations based on addressing data within
each packet. Use of network resources is optimized as the resources are
needed only during the handling of each packet” [Toh, 2002, p. 2]. GPRS
offers the following advantages:
1. Speed: By using all eight time-slots simultaneously GPRS can theoreti-
cally achieve transmission rates of up to 115.2 kbps, about two times
faster than ISDN and ten times faster than other circuit-switched GSM
standards [Buckingham, 2000a, p. 2].
2. Immediacy: GPRS enabled mobile devices are, subject to network cov-
erage of the geographic area, always connected to the network (“Al-
ways-on, Always-connected” feature).34 The user does not have to dial
up a connection to receive information [Buckingham, 2000a, p. 2;
Ahlke, 2002, p. 10].
3. Innovative services: GPRS can offer services that were hitherto not pos-
sible due to low transmission rates. It facilitates creation of WAP-pages
similar to Internet-based web-pages and provides access to many other
services, e.g. the Internet, e-mail, music and office applications [Buck-
ingham, 2000a, p. 2; Gneiting, 2000, p. 20].
4. Costs advantage: The subscriber pays for the volume of the transmitted
data and not the time required in the process [Toh, 2002, p. 2].
These advantages make GPRS the first technology that can not only enable
but also promote mobile applications. Nevertheless, GPRS has certain
shortcomings, too, which are described in the following:
33 The packet-switched technologies are explained later in this section.
34 The importance of such a feature for Mobile Commerce is discussed in section 2.3.
Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission 53
1. Low actual transmission rates: The theoretically possible rates of data
transmission are not achieved, because all the eight time-slots are sel-
dom, if ever, available simultaneously [Buckingham, 2000a, p. 5]. The
actual rates of data-transmission via GPRS is reported to be a meagre
14 kbps while sending and between 28 and 64 kbps while receiving
[GSM World, 2005b, p. 1].
2. Priority for Voice-transmission: The packet-switched GPRS is used
only as a secondary network channel along with the circuit-switched
GSM network for voice-transmission that has a higher priority. If the
capacities are being utilised for a voice-call, then the data-transmission
has to take a back seat [Schell, 2002, p. 68].
These factors handicap the development of data-intensive and/or time-
critical Mobile Commerce applications based on GPRS.
4.1.3.2 Enhanced Data-rates for Global Evolution (EDGE)
EDGE is a 2.5G technology that is based on GPRS and can be used to offer
personalised multimedia services similar to 3G technologies [Toh, 2002,
p. 2]. It can be used to transmit both voice and data. However, it is just an
add-on to GPRS and can not work alone [Ericsson, 2003, p. 4]. EDGE al-
lows subscribers to access the Internet and to send and receive data, e.g.
digital images and videos, with a broadband like transmission speed of 384
kbps that is about three times faster than an ordinary GPRS network [Erics-
son Glossary, 2004, p. 16].
This speed is sufficient even for video-transmissions and in that sense it
rivals the 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) tech-
nology [Ahlke, 2002, p. 11]. EDGE is reputed to possess high potential and
a growing importance in many regions of the world, e.g. the Americas,
Australia and India, where it is reported to be gaining market rapidly
[Menon, 2005, p. 1]. The main advantage of EDGE is that it could allow
network carriers to offer 3G services without having to acquire a 3G li-
cense. Implementing EDGE is relatively simple, as it works with the exist-
ing GSM/GPRS structure [Toh, 2002, p. 2]. It may also be used with lap-
tops with the help of a card [Menon, 2005, p. 1].
EDGE however does not seem to have very bright prospects in Europe
for a practical reason: Most of the network carriers in Europe have invested
54 The Technological Framework of Mobile Commerce
heavily in the expensive UMTS licenses and building a UMTS network
[Wallbaum/Pils, 2002, p. 84].35 Their priority lies in amortisation of these
investments.
4.1.4 The Third Generation (3G)
The 3G technology aims to provide a broad range of services, e.g. interac-
tive multimedia services, video telephony and high speed internet access, in
addition to voice communication. The European 3G standard is called
UMTS36 and is based on a radio access technology called Wideband Code
Division Multiple Access (WCDMA)37. The high speed of data transmis-
sion makes it suitable for real-time and time-critical applications [Wall-
baum/Pils, 2002, p. 84].38
UMTS works with a hierarchical cell structure (see figure 3) consisting
of different cell types [Schell, 2002, p. 71; Toh, 2002, p. 5]:
1. Pico cells: The speed of data transmission in Pico cells, i.e. at low mo-
bility, is up to 2048 kbps, provided the device remains within a geo-
graphic range not exceeding 50 metres, e.g. in a building.
2. Micro cells: The rate of data transmission in urban areas is 384 kbps at
limited mobility, within a geographic range of 50 to 350 metres.
3. Macro cells: Data transmission rates of up to 144 kbps at full mobility in
suburban areas and countryside within a range of 350 metres to 20
kilometres depending on the area’s topology and population density.
4. Satellite cells: UMTS supports universal roaming and provides global
coverage. For this purpose it uses – in addition to terrestrial systems –
also satellite systems [Toh, 2002, p. 5]. The data transmission rate in the
satellite cell is 9.6 kbps [UMTS FAQ, 2002, p. 9].
35 The network carriers in Germany alone are reported to have invested €100 billion for this
purpose [Göttgens/Zweigle, 2001, p. 2].
36 The terms “3G” and “UMTS” are used interchangeably in Europe, see e.g. EU Legal
Notice: Third generation mobile communications, dated 31.10.2002, online available:
http:// www.europa.eu.int/scadplus/printversion/en/lvb/124202a.htm, 11.01.2005; and
[UMTS Forum, 2005a, p. 1].
37 WCDMA is a variant of CDMA, which is explained in section 4.1.2.
38 For more information on UMTS, see [Toh, 2002, p. 5; IZMF, 2005b, pp. 1-2].
Technologies for Mobile Data Transmission 55
Pico cell
Micro cell
Macro cell
Satellite
cell
Pico cell
Micro cell
Macro cell
Satellite
cell
Figure 3: Hierarchical cell structure of UMTS
[Graphic modelled after: Wallbaum/Pils, 2002, p. 86; Schell, 2002, p. 74]
UMTS uses frequencies in the bandwid