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E-Commerce, the online purchase of goods and services, has largely become the standard for transactions, including groceries and fast food. Introduced in the 1970s, e-commerce really took off in the 1990s. Retail giant Amazon, which started as an online bookstore in 1995, now offers everything from toothpaste to motorcycles.

Even the methods by which customers shop online have evolved. Once, consumers had to make purchases from computers with hard-wired connections. Today, we can purchase almost anything from mobile devices through apps or websites from anywhere in the world—or simply issue a voice command to a smart speaker.

Online Payments

The growing popularity of e-commerce led to the development of different payment systems, such as PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, Zelle, and Apple Pay. Adding to the complexity, some merchants also accept cryptocurrency as payment.

Like traditional credit card transactions in a brick-and-mortar store, online retailers use a payment gateway, which confirms the payment through a processor who contacts a bank and transfers funds to the merchant. When this process happens online, several web servers are involved, which log many aspects of the transaction, including IP addresses, device types, browser versions, and other identifying information about the purchaser. Each party involved during a transaction records different types of information, which can be extremely valuable during an investigation.


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