The internet is awash with free content, and this has made any attempt to get readers to pay to read or view material extremely unpopular. But can a micropayment system get people paying for content again?
The News Problem
Most major news publishers have probed the viability of making money online, to varying levels of success. The problem is that, with so much free content available on the web – especially high-quality content like that published by the likes of BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post – asking web readers to pay to read/view has, up till now, been tantamount to asking them to go somewhere else.
Still, a variety of models have emerged that attempt to make online news profitable, including paywalls, metred subscriptions, and native advertising. However, even some of the most popular media outlets who’ve adopted one or more of these models – including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Financial Times – have had to cut staff and look to make savings elsewhere.
In short, getting online readers to pay for news has been like trying to squeeze blood from a stone – and more and more people are going online to get their news.
As such, many media outlets have looked for other solutions, such as, as with the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Independent, finding a rich benefactor; or, as ProPublica and the Texas Tribune have done, asking for donations; or having another business, like Bloomberg and Reuters; or simply focusing on entertainment, à la Business Insider.
But there may be another solution.
Micropayments As A Solution?
Recently a new model has begun to emerge: the micropayments model. So how does it work?
Well, exactly as it sounds. A micropayment is a financial transaction involving a very small sum of money. And lots and lots of very small sums of money equals a much larger sum of money. The trick is finding an amount that, to the, reader seems small enough to be practically negligible, but, to the organisation, is large enough to build up quickly.
On Blendle, which has been hailed as the “iTunes of journalism”, the average article costs 20 cents to read, and users have access to large and growing aggregation articles from a variety of domestic and international of publications.
So will it work?
The micropayment model faces some significant challenges, sure, and most of the “first-wave” of micropayments systems which emerged in the 1990s failed – largely because the cost of processing all of these transactions significantly reduced profits.
That said, no one has ever really applied the model to news before. And the prospect of being able to cherry-pick articles from a variety of quality publications may just be too good to resist.
As pioneers in software solutions that handle micro-transactions, we are constantly working on improving our products and building our portfolio of providers offering diverse digital content. Our products expanded in industries like finance, religion, eSports and security, coverage and scalability are the areas we improved a lot in recent past.
If other companies can push this innovations on global level, then we may just be on the cusp of a digital media revolution.