Electronic commerce (e-commerce) has been widely predicted to revolutionise the way in which business is conducted and to have major social implications. Widespread adoption of computers and the Internet by households and by business has led to a surge in e-commerce applications in most industrialised countries. Unfortunately, it is difficult to separate the real impact of e-commerce from the hyperbole, since numerous vested interests, ranging from technology enthusiasts and consultants to companies that expect to gain business from e-commerce, have adopted an 'evangelical' attitude to the advent of e-commerce.