Monday, December 13th, 2010
15

If Everyone Wants Micropayment So Bad, Why Doesn't It Exist?

"The well-staffed offices, the air of self-conscious seriousness shading into pomposity, the tendency to file what from a British point of view always seemed several hundred words too much—all these features of American papers were underpinned by the easy money of monopoly-based classified advertising."
Here is a fascinating lengthy analysis of the financial matters of British and English newspapers which ends in… a call for a universal micropayment system for news consumers. This is my problem with journalists basically? In the time it took to research and edit this story, everyone involved could have partnered with two good engineers and BUILT AND LAUNCHED A UNIVERSAL MICROPAYMENT SYSTEM. (And then already not have had anyone sign up to use it.)

15 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#1,720)

Nobody wants micropayments. Ever. Anywhere. People would rather go out of their way to steal shit than pay a nickel for it over the internet.

Ian Adelman (#9,001)

IDK, I'd argue that Apple has figured out a version, at least, of micropayments. If you consider one-dollar increments beginning at $.99 to be "micro."

They've made a shitload of money selling $.99-apps, is all – and by incorporating the payment method into the product-owning experience, as it were, they reduced pretty much all transactional friction.

Slava (#216)

"transactional friction"

ian (#9,002)

Yes, I set myself up for that, but still – it's true!

I thank you for using that phrase!!

Your argument is largely correct. (Although, you know, what they made was a store–a single place that accepts payments. Reporters all seem to think that we can make a web credit card/passport, etc.)

ian (#9,002)

It is certainly true that the "iTunes store" (which is a ridiculous moniker for what that is now) is a single place ("store") that accepts credit card payments. And I understand the generally-accepted notion of what a "micropayments" system is – and that those two things are not the same.

My point is that when I see what Apple has done with iTunes, and how easily people part with what _feels like_ very small incremental payments, I see a [and allow me to employ some more phrasing for the pleasure of the group here] backdoor to a micropayment system. [Ha.]

iPay. It doesn't exactly sound like much of a stretch if you ask me.

Chris Conroy (#3,983)

Yeah, god, micropayments. The thing people never seem to consider about that is that if every single click you make on a newspaper website is invisibly costing you something, it makes the act of even LOOKING at a website feel expensive, and therefore stressful, and therefore not appealing.

I am the only person in the world who actually plans to pay money for the New York Times website when/if they actually get around to asking us to do so. But the whole "No, people will HAPPILY pay two cents an article" thing is just so amazingly wrongheaded. It's like putting a small toll on every road you use to drive from home to the movie theatre. It'll just mean nobody drives to the movie theatre anymore.

garge (#736)

Truthfully, micropayments would be the straw that broke the (my) camel's back in terms of sending me into a reclusion similar to that of the blond from Abba, except poor. So stressful!

riggssm (#760)

Micropayments as we think of them now won't work. Some fractional payment system eventually will I think. Probably when Apple and/or Google decides to devote some time to it.

Re: subscription NYT. I just wrote (another) letter to Digital re: their blinking, whirling, twirling hell of an ad model. (Yes, usually use FF adblock, etc.)

Their ability to get my money online depends on, in this order:

1) how fucking many ads they have
2) if ads are present, absolutely NONE that twitch or flash
3) how expensive it is
4) ease of authentication across several machines

Otherwise, I'll just start taking a paper copy home from work with me.

Leon (#6,596)

Wait so basically, I can't get good in-depth, time-consuming newspaper reporting anymore (or in the soon future, depending on how i feel about quality now) because instead of paying some guy to post a little tiny thing about my money green leather sofa, I go to craiglist and sell it there?

Or is it that, the good long-form content slowly shitty in the face of the classifieds monopoly, when the papers knew they would win just because, and now that their cash cow is gone they are finding that their actual "being dope at reporting" muscles have all atrophied to the point where they can't keep readers?

cuz, as someone who works in a field based around moving ads – companies everywhere would rather put their ad-buy into print than digital. it is freaking them out and killing them that newspapers are going away, and they would love nothing more than to ignore 'new media' (what is that phrase, 15 years old?) but they all think the newspapermen have fucked themselves out of a job through general lack of quality.

i feel like, maybe the truth is in the middle and not actually any one of those things above?

garge (#736)

Just reserved NYTarticlereviewsreviews .tumblr .com, BOOYAH!

garge (#736)

I just know it will pay for itself!

s. (#775)

YOU GET A BOOK DEAL! YOU GET A BOOK DEAL! YOU GET A BOOK DEAL!

Robin (#9,004)

a micropayment system does exist, centrally managed ("universal" thus universally accessible) with close to zero transactional friction: http://flattr.com/
tough to say how much traction they'll get out there in the internets, but certainly well thought out. plus, gives me the reader the chance to reward authors and organizations i really want.

rectifiability (#7,649)

Turns out Apple's top 40 hits and Doodle Jump attracted way more credit card numbers than Facebook 's "I paid a dollar to get a shitty picture of a bear on your wall, happy chlamydia testing day!" approach yielded. Too bad. You can bet they'd be tripping over themselves now otherwise to integrate micropayments into their ubiquitous Facebook Connect…

But by the by, your points about "transactional friction" are spot on. It's why Amazon and B&N booksellers are both so eager to get e-readers in our hot little hands. It's ridiculously easy to make $12.99 instabuys. Going to the store, on the other hand, gives me time to wait in line, pause, and think about the debt I'm not repaying or broken mufflers I'm not replacing.

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