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Mobile Commerce is every e-commerce done in a wireless environment, particularly via the internet. It can be done using private telecommunication channels, smart cards, etc. M-commerce offers chances to deliver new services to existing clients and to attract new ones. The purpose of this paper is to introduce briefly what is m-commerce and understand its relationship to e-commerce. Before understanding what is m-commerce we have to understand the mobile computing environment that supports m-commerce. I will give a short description of the major types of wireless telecommunications networks and I will discuss the role of m-commerce applications in finance and advertising. Later on I will explain the application of m-commerce within organizations and finally I will explain the supply chain management applications of m-commerce.
There are many definition of mobile commerce found in different literatures. Varshney, Vetter and Kalakota (2000) call attention to the use of a device that is held in hand and mobile telephony to complete transactions that have financial profit, for example trade of money for different products. M-commerce presents and allows its services to be used only by subscribers.
Three other authors have categorized m-commerce as part of electronic commerce (e-commerce). (Turban, Lee and Viehland, 2004) Still, m-commerce has a lot of characteristics that are not clearly evident or are not at all in e-commerce. These attributes, as explained in the book of _______ are: ubiquity, personalization and localization. By ubiquity we understand being available to relate with a mobile application just about everywhere, at all times; localization is the facility that an application has in offering a service precisely to the position of the client; and personalization is "the targeting of marketing messages to specific individuals by adjusting the message to a person's name, interests, and past purchases" and using the account of subscribers for payment.
The features of m-commerce explained above and the m-commerce user, seen as a paid mobile network operator client, offer the basis that distinguishes e-commerce from m-commerce. In this paper, I see m-commerce as service that has some added value, which allows mobile users or clients to make secure and trustworthy transactions using mobile applications designed for this purpose specifically. By this, we must understand that before offering a mobile service a firm must have an adequate business model and partners to do business with, suppliers and last but not least customers.
2 Mobile Computing Environment
The use of mobile devices is growing very fast. Applications and services of m-commerce can not be understood without a mobile computing environment that supports them. Completing e-commerce transactions through mobile devices requires new approaches. In this point, many problems are raised, from bandwidth to screen sizes issues, creating a very complex scenario. Maamar, Yahyaoui and Mansoor (2004) say that features like "security, usability, efficiency, trustworthiness, and reliability need to be effectively tackled to make users more confident in their m-commerce applications".
If we analyse the mobile computing environment from the hardware point of view, we must take into consideration these issues: to complete a transaction or to access a mobile service/application you need a mobile phone, or a PDA, being interactive in browsing pages or other devices such as notebooks, handhelds and smartpads, all mobile devices. They should support e-mail handhelds, with color screen, keyboard, wirelined and Internet capabilities.
One of the most important success keys that we must take into account is personalization. Mobile devices are not same and they need specific provisions to be compatible with their detailed features. Device agents, as called in the article of Maamar, Yahyaoui and Mansoor (2004), will be in charge of showing results acquired from provider agents, transmiting users' requirenments to the supervisor agent, notifying if there is an interruption or a delay in returning user's answer, supervising the batteries' life of wireless device, etc.
Another factor that influence the mobile computing environment is offering location based answers to users' requests. (Maamar, Yahyaoui and Mansoor, 2004) This is helpful for users to know their direction in any time. These two factors decide the success of mobile applications. Finally, a payment system is what completes all transactions.
2.1 Wireless Telecommunications Networks
Wireless Telecommunications Network, also called cellular network is a network that uses radio transmission media, and it's distributed over places called cells, and each cell is supplied by a static location called base station. When these cells are put together, they offer a broad radio coverage in a wide geographic zone. This makes possible that a lot of mobile devices communiacte with each other anywhere, in anytime, with the intermeddiary of base stations.
Wireless telecommunication networks transmit information and data using 5 types of wireless transmission media: microwave, satellites, radio, infrared and cellular radio technology. Wireless standards are:
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) - a group of communications protocols intended to allow different types of wireless devices to communicate to a server installed on a celluar network, so subscribers (users) can navigate in the Internet
Wireless Markup Language (WML)
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS)
Subscriber Identification Module (SIM)
Voice XML (VXML)
Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evaluation (EDGE)
I will not explain in further detail the types above, since this is not the purpose of this article.
3 M-Commerce Applications in Finance and Advertising
Mobile financial applications are a new trend in the field m-commerce; they are new and innovative in the market. The large diffusion and individual nature of mobile devices, the general constancy of mobile communication technologies, and the optimistic knowledges with m-commerce payments have prepared mobile solutions appropriate for a mixture of financial applications.
Actual mobile financial applications consist of mobile banking, micropayments, m-wallet, bill payments and others, for i.e. selling and ticketing. Micropayments are electronic payments for small purchase amounts, such as news, tickets, games, etc. Macropayments are the opposite of micropayments. Bill payments are made directly from cell phone via: bank, credit card or prepaid arrangement. M-wallet is a wireless wallet that enables cardholders to make purchases with a single click from their wireless devices.
I must emphasize the fact that these services are in an early phase of development and have not reach the peak point. The main reason for this is that they require the use of technologies that are not widely use by people, such as GPRS and Java. Still they are emerging really fast and I believe that macropayments applications will be the future of mobile financial applications.
Mobile advertising application is another service that m-commerce has developed and offers nowadays. The use of SMS to contact clients through their mobile devices is receiving popularity, transforming the cell phone to the final medium for one-to-one marketing. But we have to be aware that the mobile phone is very personal, though mobile advertising must be more personalized and should establish wireless ad guidelines, such as avoiding issues like spamming and unethical strategies (confirmed opt-ins, personally identifiable information, and push advertising). Based on different marketing strategies, wireless marketing can be permission based, incentive based or location based. (Zoller, Housen and Matthews, 2001)
4 Application of M-Commerce within Organizations
The use of m-commerce application in organizations is becoming a very essential success key recently. M-commerce consumer services are supporting customers and business partners. One m-commerce service used within organizations is using voice portals in marketing and customer service. This service is mostly useful for checking status of deliveries to a job site, enables service technicians with diagnosis of difficult problems and sales people can check inventory status during a meeting to help close a sale. Another m-commerce service used withing organizations is mobile portals. It is a customer interaction channel that aggregates content and services for mobile users. Portals charge for their services. These portals serve a corporation's customers and/or suppliers.
Applications of m-commerce within organizations are also supporting mobile employees. Wearable wireless devices are helping employees who work on buildings and other places that are difficult to climb, for i.e. cameras, keyboard, screen, touch panel display, etc. These services inside organizations are also supportin job dispatch, such as transportation, taxis, utilities, health care, security, field service, etc. Another positive effect they have is that provide easy access to customer data at the central office (deal tracking, product and spare part availability, contact management information).
5 Supply Chain Management Applications of M-Commerce
Seeing that wireless communication is developing rapidly, the future mobile evolution will produce striking and important changes to supply chain management. This will influence in every aspect of organizational life. It will help decision makers with data in real time, will have great impact on the ways organizations communicate, and will improve relationships between clients and suppliers. This will definitely change the way we administer the supply chain.
It will exist a telemetry in supply chain efficiency and productivity by the automation of data capture, reduced overhead, improved billing timeliness and accuracy and increased customer satisfaction. Mobile capabilities will help collaboration between members of the supply chain.
The junction of mobile telecommunications and the Internet offers any thrilling potentials and forecasts for the expansion of mobile commerce. The infiltration of both technologies in the developed world has already induced transformations in our routine lives. This paper has attempted to examine what is mobile commerce and understanding its role compared to electronic commerce, and also how value is added in this new era of wireless internet. This paper outlines some of the most important concepts that we should know for m-commerce, as an introduction to m-commerce. The result is a detailed description of types of mobile communication networks, the role of m-commerce applications and services in advertising and finance.
Alongside, the paper also provides some explanations regarding the application of m-commerce within organizations and the supply chain management applications of m-commerce. Without hesitation, the surfacing of priciple standards such as WAP, GPRS and 3G will force the wireless applications and services to go forward and to be more developed.