USID2008 - Three Star Approach - An Interface less Interface for Mobile Commerce
Three Star Approach – An Interface
less Interface for Mobile Commerce
Abstract as using a mobile device for business transactions
With our growing performed over a mobile telecommunications network,
appetite to adapt to possibly involving transfer of monetary values.
Human Factors International
technology, we are
confronted with This paper explores how a new easy-to-use mobile
insatiable demand for payment protocol can ease the present scenario of
high speed flexible mobile payment solutions. The protocol acts as an
commerce services and interface-less-interface, allowing technology access to
Human Factors International
growing needs for a all mobile phone users irrespective of the hardware
secure anytime used. As the suggested approach is build on existing
anywhere commerce network capabilities, it can be implemented with a
solution. Due to minimalist framework and industry regulations put in
tremendous popularity, place. The suggested solution has the potential to
mobile phones have maximize the reach of m-commerce services to even
emerged as a medium the users with a basic mobile phone and hence
to allow technology providing a wider choice of users for m-commerce
access to maximum service providers.
number of people and
hence are of greater
business value. m-commerce, three star approach, mobile payment
We define m-commerce
Copyright is held by USID Foundation (earlier USID Foundation)
USID2008, September 4 – September 6, 2008, Hyderabad, India
Introduction based on the context of use.
Technical advances in the field of mobile payment
Three Star Approach – Receive Money
solutions, mobile banking and upcoming near field
communication devices have strengthened the The Three Star approach is a simple, intuitive and
feasibility of cashless transactions and mobile wallet. secure approach to transfer money at speed. This
The bottleneck of the existing and upcoming mobile approach can allow any mobile user to transfer money
commerce solutions is their dependence on software, using mobiles by creating a service request to ‘Receive’
hardware or both. Further, slow mobile internet money. The process is initiated by the ‘Receiver’ – the
connections coupled with unintuitive user interface for person who is the beneficiary. For clarity of flow, the
small screens, adds to user problems. These factors concept has been defined with help of a scenario.
limit the reach and using capabilities, hence reducing
We need an easy-to-use mobile payment interface
which can allow fast and secure transaction capabilities
to mobile users irrespective of the type mobile handset
or network used. Three Star approach attempts to
utilize the capabilities of packet data networks to allow
money transactions which are as intuitive as making a
call. The approach has two versions, each of which is
explained below with help of a scenario, designed
Mr. Prakash wants to help Rahul improve
his English vocabulary skills and hence gets
him a dictionary. Rahul wants the book so
he calls his father to make the payment.
Rahul asks his teacher Mr. Prakash to
send a money transfer request to his
father Mr. Anil.
Mr. Prakash quickly types Mr. Anil’s mobile
number, transfer amount, his PIN and
press ‘CALL’ button to send a money
transfer service request.
The service request comprises of three types of
information separated by a ‘*’. User initiates a money
transfer request by dialing a ‘*’. The first information is
the mobile number of the ‘Payer’ – the person whose
account will be deducted. The information after the
second ‘*’ specifies the transaction amount. Finally
after third ‘*’, user enters security PIN and press the
Network sends SMS to both the users from
The service request goes to the network which verifies
and authenticates the ‘Receiver’ and connects to the
network of the ‘Payer’ much in the same way as it
connects the call. After verification at the end of ‘Payer’
network, a confirmation message is sent to the
‘Receiver’ confirming the acceptance of money transfer
request. As a security measure the identity of ‘Payer’ is
not revealed immediately. At the same time, ‘Payer’
gets a message asking for confirming the payment
Mr. Anil makes a payment by replying via
The difference here is that Mr. Prakash sent a special
service request, while Mr. Anil has to reply via SMS.
This difference in interaction ensures that the written
record of payment confirmation exits in the system.
The reason for choosing 729 as the service center
number for payment request SMS is the large distances
between the keys reduce chances of user making a
mistake while generating the request. Also, for mobiles,
while typing in text mode the same key combination is
used to type ‘PAY’.
To cancel the payment request, user can either reply in
a similar format, but keeping the amount field blank
(e.g. sends *9325581639**1704 via SMS to 729) or
not do anything for 1 hour. The service request expires
automatically if not replied to within an hour. This
ensures added safety and network quality-of-service.
Network confirms transaction by providing
receipts to both the parties.
On successful transfer of amount, system delivers a
receipt to both the parties revealing date, time, amount
of transfer and the identity of other party.
Though this approach can handle money transfer
requests, but it is limited by the fact that the ‘Receiver’
or the beneficiary needs to initiate the process. In our
daily lives, we come across many situations where it is
not possible for the beneficiary to generate a transfer
request. Though the suggested approach can take care
of all individual-to-individual level daily transactions,
we surely require a variant of this approach to address
individual-to-institution level transactions, for example
payment of electricity bills, etc.
Three Star Approach – Pay Money This service request is meant to initiate the payment
The approach explained above focused on requests procedure only. The request is first verified for
from individuals to receive money from other authenticity and then the network provides a ‘Pay Key’
individuals. This variant of the above approach to the user which has to be included by user in place of
attempts to address requests from individuals to mobile number to generate an authorized payment
directly request for paying the amount to institutions. request. The ‘Pay Key’ is generated on run-time basis
for the request received by the network and remains
Here, the paradigm is completely different as the user valid for a period of 1 hour only. Another change in the
is expected to have a pre-existing relationship with the approach is that the payment request SMS are sent to
institution (e.g. Electricity Board, Municipality Board, 925 instead of 729, to avoid confusions.
Income Tax, etc). Allocating a 6 digit Unique
Identification Number to each institution will allow ease Having a two step process allows network to identify
of operations for networks and users as well. User can the beneficiary and the ‘Pay Key’ ensures a safe and
send a request to the UIN of the institution followed by secure transaction for both the parties.
their PIN to initiate the payment request. The entire
approach is described in detail with help of a scenario.
While on a business trip Mrs. Sheetal gets a
reminder to pay for her electricity bills. She
immediately creates a service request and
press CALL button.
Mrs. Sheetal gets a reply from the network.
The service center number is 925.
Mrs. Sheetal creates a payment request
based on the ‘Pay Key’ received from the
Mrs. Sheetal gets a payment receipt from
This is how both the three star mobile payment
approaches work. As none of the two approaches have
dependency on mobile devices or the user interface,
they have the potential to be an easily acceptable and
scalable solution models in the mobile commerce
The three essential entities
involved in all the transactions are
the end users, the network service
provider and the banks. Three Star
approach can offer tremendous
flexibility of implementation to all
the stakeholders involved.
1. End user – For debit or credit of
the money, users can register with
either a Bank or a Third Party or
the Service Provider itself (as an
additional service). But in all cases
a registration with the service
provider shall be necessary.
2. Service Provider – They shall
have the option to offer Mobile
Wallet facility to users wherein for
all transactions, the amount is not
debited or credited to user’s bank
3. Bank – The banks can offer
credit as well as debit facilities to
their customers, depending on
their credibility and account
history. This can also help simplify
their existing mobile banking
Fig 10. Implementation structure and system entities
Security Challenges 4. Data Integrity – The quality-of-service parameters
Studies have shown that it takes an average of 68 for the network ensures the level of accuracy and
minutes for a person to realize that his/her mobile reliability for the time taken for the transactions to take
phone is missing compared to 26 hours to realize that place in real-time.
their credit card is missing. Also, credit cards, once
stolen can be used by anyone without the knowledge
of actual owner, while mobile payments require secure
passwords and network approaches for encrypted The networks play a big role in setting up the approach
transactions can be put in place to enhance security and making it look easy for the users, so a small
levels. So, in a way mobiles are better suited for premium charged to avail payment services would be
commerce transactions when compared to conventional widely acceptable. Looking at the number of mobile
credit cards. users (over 2 billion globally and over 100 million in
India, as of June 2006), it is a lucrative proposition for
As per Trintech, a world leader in providing transaction the networks, the financial institutions and the device
risk management solutions, solution to electronic fraud manufacturers to take up the opportunity. There are
is to implement a system that complies with the basic three major drivers that are mobilizing companies to
tenets of: deploy mobile payment:
1. Authentication – In both the versions of the three 1. Maximization of revenue from wireless services –
star approach, system has to verify the authenticity of The motivation for network operators is to drive data
the request and only then the network can authorizes services through their networks. In order to do this, the
the transaction after successful validations. payment requirements for data services will be the
responsibility of network operators and these include –
2. Confidentiality – This is a major concern for people handle payment and settlements for third party content
which can define the level of acceptance of the solution. or services; maximize reach by supporting various
Due attention has to be given to protect the identity of payment models; and charge on a wide range of
mobile users from malicious or unwanted sources. To a metrics.
large extent, the approach takes care of this challenge.
2. Handset as personal trusted device - This is one of
3. Non-repudiation – This is a prime concern in case of the main motivators for financial institutions. For banks
legal disputes. Sending a confirmation message to both and payment associations, the wireless device could
the parties involved in the transaction and saving a solve one of their most difficult problems: how to
copy of the same on the central server takes care of secure all virtual transactions and reduce fraud. The
such issues. network security protocols coupled with a personal PIN
can assure safety and security of transactions.
3. Encouraging adoption of next generation mobiles -
For the major device manufacturers, the roll-out of It has never been easy to come up with scalable and
2.5G and 3G applications is crucial to their long-term easy-to-use solutions for small screens. Most of the
future. Availability of flexible and easy-to-pay options present mobile commerce solutions are limited by
will allow content developers to come up with more constraints like lack of standards, form factor,
personalized and useful services and hence creating a hardware, software, interaction styles, limited user
desire to upgrade the mobile devices. attention, dynamic environment and context.
As the Three Star approach has no interface of its own,
Similar Solutions it has minimalistic dependency on the listed
The field of mobile commerce is still in its infancy, but it constraints. But still the service providers need to
has been witnessing rapid growth in recent times. As a follow a standardized payment framework to make it
result of this, a host of mobile commerce solutions exist easy for end user. Another aspect is that this approach
already. Many banks have already come up with their is more suitable for micro transactions, i.e. transactions
customized mobile banking solutions, though due to involving small amounts. Macro transactions demand a
user interface problems, most of them failed to gain sophisticated and more advanced solution as the needs
any popularity. Recently Oxigen, an Indian group and desires of the user change accordingly. The
backed by Microsoft, launched mobile payment service concern here is to define the levels distinguishing
by the name of Oxicash which is an example of the between micro and macro level of transactions, though
third party being involved in the transaction cycle. As the task may sound easy, but it might not be so. Also,
an another example Mumbai’s public transport there is a requirement to have legal, financial and
operator, BEST launched ‘Go Mumbai’, an alternative regulatory frameworks in place before such services are
for paying bus fares. launched.
At international level, RFID solutions are being
experimented in an attempt to come up with the best
option. Mobile commerce is already a common term in
Japan and to some extent in US. Many European
countries have been chosen for field testing of the
upcoming Near Field Communication (NFC) devices.
The NFC devices are expected to add new dimensions
to the capability of mobile commerce.
 Bushe, S. Mobile Commerce – The Future Starts
The three star approach in its raw sense allows any
 Mobile User Stats.
mobile user to experience advantages of mobile
commerce and hence, if implemented, it has huge
potential to revolutionize the current trends. The fact
 Mpayment Paper.
that the approach is easy-to-use and has no
dependence on mobile device, can make it as common
as a regular calling phone application.
 Trintech. www.trintech.com
 Oxigen Group. www.oxicash.com
Though many other alternatives are being developed
and tested globally, this solution has an advantage over  NXP. www.nxp.com
other RFID, NFC or other related solutions as this can  Macalla Platform. www.macalla.com
prove to be useful when dealing with a remote user.
I thank my colleagues at Human Factors International,
my friends and my family for their tremendous support.
I also like to extend a special thank to those who took
time to give feedback on the user testing of the
Grosche, S.S., Knopse, H. Secure M-Commerce.
 Roussos, G., Kourouthanasis, P., Moussouri, T.
Designing appliances for mobile commerce and
 Tarasewich, P. Designing Mobile Commerce
 Paulos, E., Vora, P., Joki, A., Burke, A. AnyPhone:
Mobile Applications for Everyone.
Baxley, B. Universal Model of a User Interface.
 Thomas, T. Seminar Report on Survey of
Smartcard and Mobile Payments.