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Issue #571: Who's going to do it?

Issue #571: Who's going to do it?

Sep 17, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #571: Who's going to do it?

How many times do you go to read an article towards the middle of the month on a website that you visit semi-regularly only to be turned down by a subscription paywall demanding that you enter your personal information, pick a plan, and sign up for a subscription? Spending three and a half minutes to read a two and a half minute article. How many times have you actually taken the time to go through the process to get to the sweet, sweet content?

If you're anything like Uncle Marty, the answer is "absolutely never". Not once have I ever filled out my personal and debit card information to read an article. Mainly because I don't want all of the annoying emails that come with a subscription and the thought of paying $26 upfront to read one article seems like extortion. I imagine my experience is indicative of most experiences we plebs have with subscription paywalls. I haven't looked up the numbers at all, but I'm assuming the conversion rate of these "HEY, PAY US AND GIVE US YOUR INFO!" walls is quite low. The process is too clunky and it involves too many mental costs that one needs to take into consideration. A very unpleasant experience.

Dare I say?! Bitcoin fixes this.

We now live in a world where this experience can be made much smoother and more pleasant by leveraging Bitcoin. Specifically, microtransactions the Lightning Network. Before the emergence of Bitcoin and the build out of its second layer Lightning Network, it was uneconomical to make microtransactions on the world wide web. Credit card companies and payment processors like PayPal charge too much in fees to justify the costs and one still needs to put in all of their information to make this happen. One-off one-time payments aren't big in the traditional media game these days, but they should be.

We here at the Ƀent have developed a working prototype for publishers like Bloomberg who should be using unintrusive $0.10 paywalls for individual articles instead of forcing users through the gauntlet of a subscription paywall UX flow. This is the way consuming paywalled content should be on the world wide web going forward. There should be a "Pay $0.10 now via LN" button directly to the right of the "Sign in" button in the screenshot above. Upon hitting the button, a BTCPayServer invoice for $0.10 worth of sats would appear, the user would scan the QR code, accept the invoice, and be on their way consuming content. I imagine the publishers would get more overall revenue due to people being more willing to pay $0.10 for every article over their free reading limit per month. Hell, I'd even pay a full quarter for the combination of the content and the convenience.

This all begs the question, who is going to take advantage of this low hanging fruit first? Which mainstream publisher is going to stick their neck out there, enable LN microtransaction paywalls, and start stacking sats and clicks? The overhead for implementing something like this is trivial. Hardware wallets are in the $100-range, BTCPayServer is free as fuck, and there are no extraordinary development skills needed to make this happen. Some mid-level security engineer could probably whip this up in a few days. One little button next to the "Sign in" button that produces $0.10-$0.25 LN invoices. Low risk, high reward.

What's the worse that could happen? Very few people use it? Not as used as we bitcoiners thought it would be? Hey Bloomberg (I know you're reading), this is a win-win for you. If it works, you're making more money and driving more traffic to your writers. If it doesn't, you get to write another hit piece on how Bitcoin is bad.

The ball is in your court. Hit me up if you have any questions.

Final thought...

Here's a qual trippy 12-minute song to start your morning.


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