Should You Step into Bitcoin for Content Monetization?

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Revenue is always at the forefront of every publisher’s mind — earning it, and finding new avenues to earn more. But what about Bitcoins? Is it worth your while to investigate new revenue streams from something that’s intangible and fully digital, yet has value?

Bitcoin is a confusing concept for most people. The Bitcoin website describes it as a peer-to-peer payment system of digital money.

Money, rather Bitcoins, are stored in a user’s digital wallet. Using that wallet, people can transfer Bitcoins to other users. It can be used to purchase goods, services, or anything else. At least as long as the buyer has Bitcoins to spend and the seller accepts it as payment.

The Pros of Accepting Bitcoins as Subscription Payment

This digital currency is new and cutting edge. It also functions outside the traditional financial world, although that freedom is likely to end eventually. More to the point, Bitcoins make purchasing something easy. There is no vendor account, and the transaction happens directly between the two parties.

Accepting Bitcoins as payment for digital subscriptions could open up a whole new revenue stream, at least in some ways. The subscriptions wouldn’t necessarily change, but the manner of payment would.

The Cons of Treading into This New Digital Arena

With this new technology, the biggest downside is the constant fluctuation in Bitcoin value. Roy Beagley’s Folio article, “Are You Accepting Bitcoins Yet?” showed just how much the value can change in a short amount of time.

When Beagley started writing, the value of one Bitcoin had just dropped from $631.27 to $578.59. And by the end of the article, it had dropped by another $6. The fluctuation in value, which is sometimes rapid, wouldn’t necessarily cause a problem when a user pays for a subscription. But it could be a real problem if that subscription has to be refunded.

Risks and Rewards of Bitcoin Payments

When a subscriber pays using Bitcoins, the transaction is secure, and quick. There’s also no need for a third party to process a credit card transaction, since the payments are person to person. This could, at least in theory, develop a different group of subscribers who wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in paywall access. Users who don’t want to pay using a credit card might consider it this way.

It’s relatively clear, how Bitcoins could be risky. If a user pays for a subscription and the Bitcoin value goes down, that affects your revenue. And it becomes even trickier if the subscription is refunded. Should you refund the same number of Bitcoins the user paid? What if the value is less now than then? Should you refund more to match the value?

But what about when the value of a Bitcoin goes up? Users could pay for their access, and then you’d have digital currency that’s worth more than what they paid. On the perimeter, it’s not dissimilar to the way the stock market fluctuates.

No matter what a single Bitcoin is worth on any given day, its value is only tangible if you can cash it out. You can’t exchange Bitcoins for cash, but you can sell it for cash to another Bitcoin user.

New revenue streams are certainly worth considering. And that includes revenue that’s completely digital, even if it looks complicated and risky. Beagley thinks Bitcoin is something to think about, but doesn’t see it as a viable subscription payment option in the immediate future. But that could, and likely will, change.

What’s important is learning more about digital currency and staying on top of new developments. It might not be how you accept payments now, but that could change as fast as the value of one Bitcoin.

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