USENIX 2001 Abstract
An Architecture for Secure Generation
and Verification of Electronic Coupons
Rahul Garg, Parul Mittal, Vikas Agarwal, Natwar Modani, IBM India Research Lab
Coupons are very useful mechanism for carrying out different marketing
management functions like sales promotion, brand promotion, and
inventory management. With the advent of Internet shopping and online
stores, there is an immediate need for an electronic equivalent of
traditional paper coupons. Security issues such as coupon tampering,
exchange, duplication and double spending become very important for
electronic coupons. Although the security issues in electronic
coupons appear to be similar to those in electronic cash systems,
there are significant differences that require the design of a
different protocol to carry out secure coupon transactions.
In this paper we describe a system for secure generation and
verification of electronic manufacturer and store coupons. The
proposed solution is based on a third party centralized coupon mint
which carries out the check for double spending, similar to online
electronic cash systems. However, unlike electronic cash systems, the
coupon mint remains completely unaware of the promotion details (the
amount of discount, product details etc.) and simply provides an
infrastructure for online coupon verification. Thus, the coupon mint
service can be provided by semi-trusted third parties different from
manufacturers. The proposed system is inherently distributed and
scalable. It lets different manufacturers independently choose their
own promotion and targeting policies (without involving the coupon mint)
and the coupon mint service provider.
The system also offers several new types of coupons like aging
coupons, growing coupons, random value coupons, and early bird coupons
which were not practical by using traditional paper coupons (and not
possible by using the electronic cash protocols).
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