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Electronic Commerce Research and Applications 5 (2006) 229–245

Transaction management for m-commerce at a mobile terminal
Jari Veijalainen
a c


, Vagan Terziyan b, Henry Tirri


Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland b Department of Mathematical Information Technology, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland Helsinki Institute for Information Technology and Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki, Finland Received 16 June 2005; received in revised form 27 September 2005; accepted 1 October 2005 Available online 20 March 2006

Abstract Although there has been a lot of discussion of ‘‘transactions’’ in mobile e-commerce (m-commerce), little attention has been paid for distributed transactional properties of the computations facilitating m-commerce. In this paper we first present a requirement analysis for m-commerce transactions, a graph-based transaction model, and a Transaction Manager (TM) architecture for a wireless application that protects m-commerce workflows against communication link, application, or terminal crash. The application interface, modules and log structure, as well as a pilot implementation of this TM for the location-based application are presented. We further discuss other alternatives to design such a TM that together can be called ‘‘Ontological Transaction Monitor’’, which assumes also monitoring constraints related to security and privacy. Ó 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: M-commerce transactions; Terminal crashes; Mobile commerce; Workflows; Personal trusted devices

1. Introduction The main driving force for the rapid acceptance of small mobile devices is the capability to get services and run applications at any time and at any place, especially while on the move [1]. The experience from Japanese market shows that the most important factor is that the terminals are permanently carried around, and thus people can use so-called ‘‘niche-time’’ to use the gadgets for various things [2,3]. The telecom industry estimates that there are now (winter 2005) 1.7 billion mobile users. According to some market analysis nearly half of the devices were internetenabled in 2004 and the tendency is growing [4]. This means that at least 500 million, perhaps nearly one billion Internet-enabled mobile phones will be in use in the world in 2006. The number of these mobile Internet-enabled terminals, sometimes also called Personal Trusted Devices

Corresponding author. E-mail addresses: (J. Veijalainen), vagan@ (V. Terziyan), (H. Tirri). 1567-4223/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.elerap.2005.10.010


(PTDs), has exceeded the number of fixed-line Internet terminals around 2003 [5]. The term mobile commerce (m-commerce) is closely related with the term electronic commerce (e-commerce), both historically and conceptually. The definition of OECD for e-commerce is based on the concept of electronic (commerce) transaction. ‘‘An electronic transaction is the sale or purchase of goods or services, whether between businesses, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations, conducted over computer-mediated networks. The goods and services are ordered over those networks, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the good or service may be conducted on or off-line’’ [6]. E-commerce can be defined to consist of launching and performing electronic commerce transactions in the above sense. M-commerce consist, correspondingly, of launching and performing m-commerce transactions. An m-commerce transaction is an electronic transaction that is conducted using a mobile terminal and a wireless access network, such as Wireless LAN, 2G or 3G telecom network, Bluetooth connection, or an Infrared connection. Notice, that this


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