Communications of the Association for Information Systems


This article introduces an electronic commerce paradox by observing that while electronic commerce grows rapidly it is, at the same time, based on unsettled foundations. It describes how 22 constraints for global electronic commerce were identified, and analyzes them in depth. The constraints fall into four themes: 1. Building trust for users and consumers 2. Establishing ground rules for the digital marketplace 3. Enhancing information infrastructure 4. Maximizing benefits. Each of these themes contains a number of critical issues. The first theme--building trust for users and consumers--involves privacy protection, security, consumer protection, authentication and confidentiality, and access blocking. The second theme includes legal framework, acceptance of electronic transactions, taxation, tariffs, intellectual property protection, commercial policy, and payment systems. Enhancing information infrastructure covers the needed infrastructure enhancements and includes Internet infrastructure and governance, interconnectivity and technical convergence, technical standards, bandwidth and accessibility, and the question of how to further the competition. The last theme is about maximizing the benefits of electronic commerce and includes the understanding of digital economy, its measurement, seamless globalization, and involvement of small businesses. At the time that this paper was written (February 2000) none of these 22 issues had been resolved. Yet, they need to be worked out if electronic commerce is to be successful in both the developed and the underdeveloped world.