Imagine if you could pay around 20 cents to read an article from the New York Times that was normally reserved for subscription holders. Is that something that would interest you? There are several companies, including a Dutch start-up, who are betting that micropayments are the new wave of the future in online media.
Blendle And Micropayments
Two years ago, a couple of journalists founded the Dutch company Blendle to offer readers the option of paying for a single article instead of a whole subscription. Users would sign up for the app and then they would have access to content from participating publishers to choose from. As of June 2015, that choice of publishers included every national newspaper, daily and weekly, in Germany. The Blendle founders are hoping to capture an audience through the French media next.
But the Blendle train does not stop with Europe. The New York Times has invested funding in Blendle and an American experiment in micropayments is on its way very soon. So far, Blendle has signed up 300,000 users and it expects that number to dramatically increase as it takes on more media outlets.
How Does It Work?
A Blendle subscriber would give the company all of their credit card information when they sign up for their account. Then the subscriber would browse a list of article headlines and summaries to see if anything catches their eye. If they find an article they want to read, then they click on the link and a small fee is taken from their credit card account. The average fee right now is 20 cents with 70 percent of the money going to the publisher.
If the reader does not like the article, they can request a refund. The catch is that the reader must tell the publisher why they are requesting a refund before the transaction can be reversed. In this way, publishers can get extremely detailed information on how to write content that appeals to masses of people and they can also make additional revenue on top of their normal subscriptions.
And Then, Google
Google actually announced a micropayment plan idea back in 2009, but it has yet to catch on because Google insists on offering its media content for free. Most industry observers do not expect Google to adopt the micropayment strategy, but the fact that a company like Google dabbled in micropayments will instantly lend credibility to the idea in publishing circles around the world.
Are micropayments the wave of the future? Readers are constantly searching for free content, which makes paywalls very difficult to sustain and justify. But if a customer can pay pennies for content that they actually want to read instead of having to pay several dollars a week for content that may not interest them, then the future of micropayments could be bright. Blendle has seemingly perfected the idea of offering micropayments and refunds and that model is making its way across the Atlantic Ocean as we speak.