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Abstract

The United States is a global leader in both Business-to-Customer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) electronic commerce. This leadership comes in part from the historical US strengths in information technology, telecommunications, financial services, and transportation - all of which are essential enabling components of e-commerce. The size and strength of the US economy, the wealth of its consumer base, and the relatively open access to venture capital creates an attractive environment for e-commerce investment. Official US Government policy toward e-commerce is to let the private sector take the lead, with government helping to make the business climate right for innovation and investment. Prior US Government investments in essential e-commerce infrastructure for military purposes (e.g., digital computing, the Internet) and for civilian purposes (e.g., interstate highways, air transport) played an important role in the US lead in e-commerce. US Government policies favoring widespread economic liberalization since the 1970's in areas such as financial services, transportation, and telecommunications helped enable and stimulate private sector investment and innovation in e-commerce. The collapse of the dot.com era in the late 1990's hit key sectors of e-commerce hard, suggesting that some of the more dramatic and positive predictions of e-commerce growth and impact will either be delayed substantially or will not come to pass. The strength of surviving e-commerce companies (e.g., Amazon and eBay), as well as the relative stability of the technology sector (e.g., Cisco Systems, Dell, Intel, IBM) and the continued investment of large industry sectors (e.g., autos, finance) suggest that e-commerce is still growing and is here to stay. Consumers are intrigued by B2C e-commerce, and many have used such services, but serious concerns related to privacy and transaction security remain obstacles to universal adoption of B2C e-commerce.

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