402 Payment Required
February 8, 2019 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Shouldn't We All Have Seamless Micropayments By Now? - "The web's founders fully expected some form of digital payment to be integral to its functioning. But nearly three decades later, we're still waiting." (previously)

also btw...
Another step toward a public bank - "Supervisors -- unanimously -- approve a resolution calling on Sacramento to allow a municipal bank in San Francisco." @sfpublicbank #PublicBank (via)
posted by kliuless (48 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Preventing financial fraud, just like preventing hacking but worse, is expensive and not really manageable without large backers (or extremely talented and continuously learning amateurs), and it sort of surprises me that big banks haven't created it yet.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:40 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


No one trusts any organization enough to do this, that's why. And that lack of trust is proven over and over again when consumers badly see how companies treat consumer security. Even Google and Apple; no one, not consumers or the credit card companies nor banks, really trusts them enough to do this, certainly not over the open web.
posted by bonehead at 1:44 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Put can the big banks take 3% of every microtransaction and make enough money to make the infrastructure worth their while? The most likely answer here is hell no.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:44 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


In a better universe, our federal government would have nationalized (or created a public alternative) to the credit card processors under the necessity of the need to facilitate commerce. At this point, much more money is exchanged electronically than through paper/coin currency, so the Federal Reserve and the Mint ought to be running a fee-free payment processor for any and all commerce.

From there, it follows that they could build in functionality for microtransactions, as there wouldn't be fees from Visa that eat up the value of a 10 cent tip. Alternately, microtransaction companies like Patreon could operate with much lower overhead, if the government limited the number or size of transactions.
posted by explosion at 1:45 PM on February 8 [18 favorites]


I do want to be able to shed pennies (and fractions of pennies) as I browse news or read fiction online

You do you, sir.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:50 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Has anyone seen a good article rounding up the various micropayment attempts that have been made over the Web years? There are many serious ones, including Google and Amazon among others. They all failed to catch on. Why?
posted by Nelson at 1:58 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Within the walled garden of the app store, Apple has been pretty successful with in-app purchases. However, even with the level of control they have over apps and content, there have been some pretty big issues to deal with. In the open web, issues are far more difficult to prevent and resolve.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:05 PM on February 8


Flattr was kind of good for a while. I didn't make money from it, but it helped me show appreciation for creators that I liked. Patreon has stolen that gig, and I've no idea what (if anything) Flattr does these days. I may still have a "Flattr This" button on my blog.
posted by scruss at 2:15 PM on February 8


having heard from people who work in payments, fraud has killed more products than any other factor you can think of. payment fraud is like the dark matter of the online universe. No one can see it but its presence influences everything.
posted by GuyZero at 2:17 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]


"The web's founders fully expected some form of digital payment to be integral to its functioning."

Um, no they didn't. Do you have any idea how much crap gets thrown into specs in case it might be useful one day? A single HTTP error code doesn't mean squat.

With regards to the web's foundational documents, charging for HTTP content was a tiny underdeveloped afterthought. And frankly, that's what charging for HTTP content continues to be.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:19 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


Every time I hear “micropayments” all I can imagine is gradually being nickel-and-dimed into poverty and somehow never noticing.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:47 PM on February 8 [28 favorites]


From there, it follows that they could build in functionality for microtransactions, as there wouldn't be fees from Visa that eat up the value of a 10 cent tip. Alternately, microtransaction companies like Patreon could operate with much lower overhead, if the government limited the number or size of transactions.
posted by explosion at 5:45 AM on February 9 [+] [!]


Oh! And! forgot to say this, but Wechat and Alipay both, at least of this writing, charge 0.2% withdrawal fees after you take your first 20,000 RMB (~$3,000) out of the system. It's usually instantaneous. Paying into the system, keeping money in your balance, and paying from your balance is free. The lower transaction limit is 0.01 RMB ($0.0015). This goes for personal users, dunno about business. Both are heavily regulated private services with massive penetration, as in I haven't had to touch paper money in China in about a year, except ATM withdrawals from US accounts to immediately re-deposit in my Chinese bank account (dear Western Union, suck it, I got an international no-fee ATM card, walking the cash from one ATM to another is free and immediate, the cross-border transfer systems are anything but)

...It exists. But we aren't building it.
posted by saysthis at 2:54 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


it's been a good run (what, about 26 years now?) but I think we've seen enough. Our little experiment with opening the internet up to commercial use should be ended. Whatever benefits we get from having for-profit activity on the internet are far outweighed by the damages that activity causes, and (as this article shows) there are some simply insurmountable technical problems involved in establishing any sort of reasonable payments system. I mean, the commercial internet was worth trying, don't get me wrong. But we should shut it down.

And, look, on the bright side, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the internet that can't be fixed by ending all commercial uses of it.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:48 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Whatever benefits we get from having for-profit activity on the internet are far outweighed by the damages that activity causes,

Honestly I’m not sure what you have in mind here. I mean there’s the whole net neutrality thing but other than that it seems like most of the problems on the web are caused by the users.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:54 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


there are some simply insurmountable technical problems involved in establishing any sort of reasonable payments system

There are technical problems with a zero-floor payment system.

Payment systems with a floor around a few dollars work fine as long as you're willing to do the work.
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on February 8


Our little experiment with opening the internet up to commercial use should be ended...
--Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon
I don't understand this at all. I mean the issues of advertising messing everything up are real, but wouldn't following through on this mean an end to, for example, MetaFilter? Not to mention that YouTube is, for all it's issues, one of the most amazing things ever created. I can watch basically anything I want any time I want. Often in HD, and it costs me nothing but time. I can go from the moon landing to random old cartoons to that funny guy from the British Museum to amazing craftwork tutorials to music videos to anything, instantly, for free.

I also use Google Suite for tons of stuff, both personal and professional, and it's all "commercial use." Am I misunderstanding what you mean by the term?
posted by Wretch729 at 4:52 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


there are some simply insurmountable technical problems involved in establishing any sort of reasonable payments system

There are technical problems with a zero-floor payment system.

Payment systems with a floor around a few dollars work fine as long as you're willing to do the work.
posted by GuyZero at 7:58 AM on February 9 [+] [!]


Again I say to you(s), Wechat and Alipay have a minimum transaction limit of 0.01 RMB ($0.0015), and no transaction fees as long as you're paying within their infrastructure (and very low ones outside it, 0.2% of transaction after 20,000 RMB/annum threshold), and we are talking services with 700 million + and 500 million + users, in the world's second largest economy. Just tonight, I forgot my cloth bag at 7-11 and had to get plastic. I discovered it after ring-up and paying. The bag tax in Beijing is 0.2 RMB ($0.03). I simply payed again. Using Wechat for both. It was a scanned QR code off my phone. See also the billion+ massive volume of hongbao/red envelopes exchanged over wechat, a significant portion of which are random amounts of micropayment sums you can send to chat groups, a sort of micropayment lottery.

Micropayments already exist and are used at scale. I also often see them used on Taobao by custom product merchants, wherein you pay a small amount under a refundable payment category (usually 1 RMB), and then the merchant talks to you over the platform, gets your specifications (say, dimensions for a shelf unit made of recycled pipe and doors from demolished housing), then "amends" your bill with the actual amount. I just searched, and I can in fact order live lobster delivered to my door this way.

Do I know how it works? No. But it does and has for 3-4 years already. China, for better or worse, already has this problem solved. I don't know of a comprehensive English-language article on it, especially not after the latest regulations last year (that 20,000 RMB no-fee limit on Wechat and Alipay both? Not mere oligopoly consensus). But it's real.

It also just so happens that it's real in one of the world's most heavily regulated publishing markets. That's a nice way of saying you might go to jail and get fined into the stone age if you post content more controversial than dad jokes or early 20's girls giving "tutorials" on how to "dance" to Shakira songs. The infrastructure is real. The media market to take advantage of it, coincidentally and unfortunately, is not.

Wechat just added foreign currency processing capability a few months ago. They are bringing their infrastructure to you as soon as they can get past the gatekeepers. They are bringing their values about free speech with them.

Our little experiment with opening the internet up to commercial use should be ended...
--Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon


No. But I hope the regulators and industry people realize they're about to get bowled over unless Venmo gets much more competitive very quickly.
posted by saysthis at 5:14 PM on February 8 [29 favorites]


Wechat and Alipay have a minimum transaction limit of 0.01 RMB

Yeah, you're totally right, I really mean there's a high floor in a US/Euro context.

I suspect the issue here is banking regulation. US payment processors don't want to store a lot of value. I suspect Wechat and Alipay have entered "too big to fail" territory in China and since they're probably partially state-owned (this is my assumption for basically every large company in China) they don't face the same regulatory pressure.

But, you are right and your example serves to prove that this is a regulatory issue, not a technological one.
posted by GuyZero at 5:30 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]




And, I should say, that Alipay and Wechat would probably love to enter the US market but there are dozens of reasons they won't in the near term.

In the long term William Gibson was nearly right, just 1300 miles off.
posted by GuyZero at 5:32 PM on February 8


We do have seamless micropayments except we pay with micro privacy erosion installments.
posted by srboisvert at 5:36 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


your example serves to prove that this is a regulatory issue, not a technological one.
posted by GuyZero at 9:30 AM on February 9 [1 favorite +] [!]

We do have seamless micropayments except we pay with micro privacy erosion installments.
posted by srboisvert at 9:36 AM on February 9 [+] [!]


I am right, about the fact that technically it can work. Let no one be in doubt about that fact, I live it.

It's the regulatory side that needs to be questioned, and because we do not live in China, that is the real half of the story here. The fact that I can do it in a centralized surveillance state but y'all can't in places where the government is at least a semblance of democratic is the other half.

I don't have an answer, but I do have this very strong opinion about the issue. I despise seeing the micropayments question get bogged down in technical questions. That's not it and never was.
posted by saysthis at 5:42 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


In theory, I think, Google AdSense was supposed to sort of be this. But, like all large unregulated companies, they could not keep from keeping 98% of the take for themselves, and so running adsense makes a small blog pennies, if that, but makes google $$$. You can see this happening right now on another Google property, YouTube, where google stops sharing ad revenue with providers for arbitrary reasons but keeps running the ads none-the-less. All schemes like this desire to have a very few people they share income with to keep the providers of content dreaming the dream while shutting out most of them from any of the revenue. It happens time and again.
posted by maxwelton at 5:49 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


WeChat and Alipay have been in Canada for a while already. You can even use it at the 7-Eleven.
posted by emeiji at 6:06 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


In theory, I think, Google AdSense was supposed to sort of be this.

It is, but with the micropayments going from advertisers to Google, Google having sold your eyeballs, and possibly some other parts of you, to the advertisers for fractions of a cent at a time.

The infrastructure could very easily be rejigged to move money in a different direction, but you'd have the same concerns about privacy, corporate surveillance and concentrations of power that you do now. I think there might be enough going for it that it would be an improvement on the current situation, but it doesn't look like a panacea, at least until very heavy regulation kicks in. Or nationalisation, but then people worry about state surveillance, see China above.
posted by deadwax at 6:22 PM on February 8


WeChat and Alipay have been in Canada for a while already. You can even use it at the 7-Eleven.
posted by emeiji at 10:06 AM on February 9 [+] [!]


Last comment I promise, but I don't want people to think I'm hawking e-pay systems when I'm trying to say that infrastructure with micropayment capability exists. Can Chinese tourists use Wechat and Alipay abroad? Absolutely! Are we Chinese tourists? No! Are Wechat and Alipay trying to fix that? Characteristically badly, as things involving foreign banks usually go in China. But they're doing it, they're this far along in about 3 years, and they've got micropayments down domestically.

Notable from emeiji's link is - The partnership with these apps was facilitated by Tourism Toronto and OTT Financial Inc., a Chinese-Canadian financial group working in tandem with Chinese Internet corporations Alibaba and Tencent to bring their systems to Canada...Using the umbrella app OTT Pay – which officially launched last year –buyers can use Chinese Yuan Renminbi from their WeChat Pay or AliPay wallets to pay merchants in converted Canadian dollars.

There are controls in place limiting how much RMB one can exchange per year, and regulatory stuff in China to ensure service providers abroad are following those limits and plugged into the central database. There is a database with everyone's name, ID number (passport number if you're not Chinese), and your annual tally run by the People's Bank of China that blocks your transaction from going through if you exceed that limit. You can go into the bank with the paperwork if you need to exceed that limit, and they have data sharing agreements with Visa, Mastercard et al that allow them access to that data abroad (although as far as I understand, it's limited in scope to what they need to verify exchange caps and no more), otherwise they straight up don't let foreign networks in. That's what slows its spread to countries with freely exchanged currencies.

So the infrastructure for micropayments is there, it's real, it's proven, it's private market (for China values of that), it's used by a heck of a lot of people in and out of China, and it's growing. Do not disregard that the same government that built this network is also the one that built the Great Firewall and that monitors and censors like there's no tomorrow.

Now I really will go away.
posted by saysthis at 7:16 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I thought Clay Shirky put this entire argument to rest in 2003. Or in 2009. But it seems that only old geezers like me still remember the last time we had to drive a stake in the heart of the micropayment fantasy, and so the idea keeps coming back from the dead.
posted by fuzz at 7:20 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I thought Clay Shirky put this entire argument to rest in 2003. Or in 2009. But it seems that only old geezers like me still remember the last time we had to drive a stake in the heart of the micropayment fantasy, and so the idea keeps coming back from the dead.

Clay Shirky isn't always right about things but I definitely agree with him about the mental friction problem with micropayments. Content sellers aren't going to be too happy with a model that pops up a confirmation window every time someone is about to spend a ha'penny, because it's asking "are you sure you care enough to pay for this?" Meanwhile buyers aren't going to be too happy with a model where they are prompted never because who knows who they are paying. Maybe the best we could do is whitelisting particular sites - sort of a pseudo-subscription without the commitment.

(The reason people still fantasize about a good micropayment system is that the alternative seems to be actual subscriptions, which are at odds with the whole damn concept of hypertext.)
posted by atoxyl at 9:17 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I’ve basically got micropayments going on via Patreon. Draw a page of comics, post it, everyone is dinged a buck at the end of the month, it adds up. Minus the 5% to the payment processor, minus the 5% to Patreon.

Reading this article and skimming the comments, I had a little voice in the back of my head muttering something about how maybe the *government* should be running a (micro)payment system. Maybe a new Bureau of Electronic Money Transfer that sits next to the Bureau of Engraving & Printing under the Department of the Treasury? I’m sure the existing payment processors would fight it tooth and nail, they must love getting a percentage of an ever-increasing chunk of all purchases.
posted by egypturnash at 9:51 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


as there wouldn't be fees from Visa that eat up the value of a 10 cent tip

Welll...Visa could probably do this at any time. ie just charge a small percentage of transaction. But, IIRC, their current fee structure is something like 10 cents plus X% of the transaction total. If they enacted a 'just X% of transaction' fee structure for micropayments, then all of their other vendors would go apeshit and demand the same, essentially destroying their current business model. Which also gives them an incentive to stop (by buyouts or lobbying, etc) anyone else who tries to undercut them.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:53 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Content sellers aren't going to be too happy with a model that pops up a confirmation window every time someone is about to spend a ha'penny

Given the current mess of popups, confirmations dialogs, GDPR cookie optin/outs, "subscribe to our mailing list", notification requests, and so on, that seem to happen on just about any "modern" website i visit these days, what's another popup on top of all the existing ones?

I’ve basically got micropayments going on via Patreon

But for how long? https://twitter.com/FoldableHuman/status/1092846201374892032

I already commented in the previous linked thread, so won't repeat myself. Other than to say that the reserved status code of 402 comes from a time when the web was infinitely smaller in scale and far less complex. That horse has bolted.
posted by lawrencium at 12:01 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I had a little voice in the back of my head muttering something about how maybe the *government* should be running a (micro)payment system.

#PublicBanking :P also check out the previous FPP (lawrencium mentioned ;) the fed and every other central bank is working on similar!
posted by kliuless at 4:20 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Okay, maybe I just need more coffee this morning, but wasn’t the Wired article pretty much a stack of paragraphs all with the same fractally repeating content: The web ought to have micropayments but doesn’t, because ads are bad, and because existing systems aren’t micro enough or universal.

There was no substance to the article...perhaps underscoring why people might not be falling over themselves to find a way to pay for it.

The modern web is largely crap. Maybe the author would claim that’s because of a race to the bottom because there’s not a solid monetization ecosystem, but I don’t think that explains it. I think the explanation is that what people want — on the aggregate — is crap.

We’re getting the content we click for.
posted by Construction Concern at 5:45 AM on February 9


Every time I hear “micropayments” all I can imagine is gradually being nickel-and-dimed into poverty and somehow never noticing.

To be fair, that's exactly what's already happening even without the micropayments.
posted by flabdablet at 6:49 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


When I was in Sweden there were places that didn't take cash, they had an app that people used called Swish. It made me really jealous.
posted by gucci mane at 6:59 AM on February 9


Money transfer is hard because it instantly attracts fraud. Fraud on computers is hard to avoid because digital technology removes some natural limitations on scaling and hiding of fraud. Malware means you can't trust the computer to vouch for the owner; technological convergence means people don't have dedicated "wallet" devices attached to the computers that are bulkheaded against malware.

Anti-fraud measures are expensive, because they involve humans confirming the intent of other humans. Those expenses are usually recouped by either a flat fee per payment (which disproportionately hurts micropayments) or a percent rate, or both.

Micropayments are hard because: Money is very desirable and consumer computers are untrustworthy intermediaries.
posted by Belostomatidae at 8:37 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Liberapay recently lost access to a payment processor that allowed them to perform a micropayments-like service wherein you would charge up your "wallet" and they would slowly reallocate the funds to your payees at a rate you specify. Since they're no longer able to do that slow reallocation, they now have you make lump sum payments, and track the rate at which that "balance" is used up, so they can notify you of when to make another lump-sum payment.

So one approach would be to have a browser extension that records your activity, and once a month tells you about the sites where your balance has finally exceeded some minimum payment threshold, and facilitates making a larger payment just once in a while. Fewer, larger payments would fit better with the financial system we have, and might help bridge the gap to real micropayments later.

(This still doesn't help with gatekeeping-style micropayments, where you have to make the payment before you see the content. It only helps with voluntary, Patreon/Flattr-style micropayments. And it still entails a cash-flow problem for the recipients, of course.)
posted by Belostomatidae at 8:52 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Belostomatidae: That sounds great, anything that greases the wheels to get this thing going sounds worth trying. I've said before, there's a natural role for places like EFF, ACLU, etc to run a side business where they oversee a micropayment system. Be completely outfront about their costs and let people choose to pay through them to support them *and* the recipients. And at the same time piggy backing on the trust they've built up and have (already) plenty of incentive to keep.
posted by aleph at 10:06 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


The Web Payments Working Group published a specification for a standardised mechanism for the collection of card payment details online, a couple of years ago. It's not quite the same thing because it's done in the page application rather than at the HTTP(S) level, but it goes a long way towards solving a lot of the problems with our existing approach to payment processing online.

It's already seeing adoption in browsers, but merchants and payment processors are unlikely to start rolling it out until adoption until later because (a) they want critical mass and (b) they're wary of change. But within a few years, you'll probably see it for the first time, and you might not even notice.

The idea is that instead of asking you to fill out an (arbitrary) form, a web page will ask your browser to get payment details from you in a standardised format. That might mean entering your card details if that's how you prefer to work (but even if you choose to do this, the form you fill in will look the same every time) but it would instead allow you to use a payment tool built in to your browser, operating system, or password safe to do it for you. I know that browsers and password safes will offer to try to do this today, but standardising the format means that they'll always be able to achieve it.

Once this technology's in place, there's nothing to stop HTTP 402's implementation being completed: all the infrastructure will exist.

The thing about the future is that when it arrives, you don't even notice. It's never jetpacks and flying cars: it's a series of iterative changes, each one predictable after the completion of the last but the entire ensemble seeming innovative and surprising when taken as a whole.
posted by avapoet at 11:59 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Barring cash microtransactions, we pay now with the only currency we really have: our attention. And that's why advertisers pay.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:25 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think it's strange to assume that some sort of standardized browser-based infrastructure to deal with 402 Payment Required would necessarily see any more usage than the browser-based handling of 401 Unauthorized is.
posted by jimw at 3:30 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Why would we *want* micropayments? Commerce is a pain in the ass. I don't want to deal with buying and selling things; I just want to share the things I create and enjoy the things others have created. Any effort I have to spend dealing with money in the process is wasted, because what I want, in the end, is to share things with the people around me. The web makes it easy to share things for free: write a thing, post it, boom, there it is, problem solved. So, how about we stop wasting time trying to transactionalize every interaction, and simply build ourselves a basic income system so that everyone can have their needs met and stop worrying about all the bookkeeping?
posted by crotchety old git at 7:07 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Since we're going nationalistic with it, American tech giants Apple and Google have (competing) implementations on how they think online payments should work (within their ecosystem, naturally), but credit cards are king, so we're stuck with their restrictions.
posted by fragmede at 9:36 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


@fuzz us older geezers remember Ted Nelson, who makes Clay Shirky look appropriately nearsighted in 2019 by comparison.

Shirky is critically missing the point that not all content on the Internet is the same mush that you can get from different places. He should sit down and have a long conversation with someone like Seth Godin.

There are companies that nickel-and-dime you, and then there are companies like Tiffany's that sell you a bluebox. Companies that build relationships with their customers. You can only get a bluebox from Tiffany's. You can call that a monopoly on blueboxes if you want to, but you're missing the point if you do.

If you bought a magazine 30 years ago, you know this already. You didn't feel nickle-and-dimed because you liked the product and identifed with it as a brand. You likey showed it off.

This will fit petfectly in to our oversharing world. People can signal exactly how many articles they purchased from The Economist or Vice or whatever. People may even buy them and not read them.

Want to prove you're woke? How many articles did you buy from BuzzFeed? Want to prove you're redpilled? How many articles did you buy from Breitbart?

Ohh... And as a happy byproduct, journalists can start getting paid to investigate again instead of for writing clickbait. Everyone wins.
posted by scharpy at 9:24 PM on February 11


@Belostomatidae I'm not sure if you're aware, but you just described the Brave Browser and Basic Attention Tokens.
posted by scharpy at 9:27 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


journalists can start getting paid to investigate again instead of for writing clickbait
Don't get me wrong, I want to live in that world. Ted Nelson's world sounds pretty cool, too. But that's not the world we live in.

In the world we live in, micropayments are an unstable equilibrium that always collapses either to free or to bundles. Magazines were a bundle, so are Spotify and Netflix. They may manage making micropayments to creators, but they don't charge micropayments to their customers. That's not because the technical infrastructure for micropayments is lacking.

Sharing just makes the problem harder: maybe I look cool for sharing some exclusive branded content that I paid for, but if my friends can only see it if they pay too, it might as well not exist for them. Everyone will wind up preferring to share the free content even if it's inferior.

Who is focusing on what the bundle for journalistic content would look like? If it got to a critical mass, I would pay a subscription for that.
posted by fuzz at 4:58 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


So, how about we stop wasting time trying to transactionalize every interaction, and simply build ourselves a basic income system so that everyone can have their needs met and stop worrying about all the bookkeeping?

fwiw, one thing about #publicbanking, say postal banking -- or treasurydirect or fedwire for all -- is it makes implementing basic income[1,2] much easier! (along with payments ;)
posted by kliuless at 6:16 AM on February 12


@fuzz sharing and signaling are different things. When most people "share" articles now, the people who see it read a headline and a one or two sentence introduction. They very likely don't read all of it, which is usually okay as it's not being shared with the intention of being fully read (perhaps people with long attention spans on Metafilter aside). It's shared with enough information to infer something about the person sharing it. That's the signal. It's just like a Tiffany's bluebox, it's a brand association. Plumage. whatever you want to call it. I mention it because it's on of the things that will be crucial to micropayment success, at least in journalism and similar content. You have to have a brand that some people want to associate with, and that's how you distinguish yourself from the mush.

Something like a profile of micropayment purchases that people wanted to make public will go a long way to success. Maybe because some people will purchase it too, but more as a stab at social proof of someone's reputation. Like a Facebook timeline, but it carries more weight because it's not just a share, it's something you've invested in (even at a very low price).

Bundles and subscriptions are also good too, having more payment options with lower transactions fees for them is still a good idea.

You're contradicting yourself here:

In the world we live in, micropayments are an unstable equilibrium that always collapses either to free or to bundles.... That's not because the technical infrastructure for micropayments is lacking.

Meaning that we know it's an unstable equilibrium, even though viable technical/regulatory infrastructure for it hasn't existed until very recently?

BTW - "free" is never "free" it's either "you can see this, but we get to manipulate you with ads" or "this is subsidized by some person or organization."

You may like blendle. I would call it micropayments, I suppose you could call it also bundling. I see the distinction between the two only as a matter of degree and not so much as a matter of philosophy.
posted by scharpy at 10:43 AM on February 12


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