“Nothing in life is free.”
Consider that this aphorism applies to using the Internet. If you aren’t paying for the content you consume then you are the content. I recommend watching “The Great Hack” on Netflix to get an eye opening explanation of the problem of your data being the price you pay to view websites.
Your data is more valuable than you know. To use a poker analogy, on the Internet you are the mark the rest of the table is conspiring to rip off. This is the status quo, and it’s a problem because the incentives are geared towards manipulation rather than truth. In The Great Hack the producers show how your data is used to shape behaviors. We are served a personalized web experience designed to push our buttons and take actions based on the desires of the highest bidder. You may object, saying that would never work on you. Maybe, but it’s been proven to work on millions of others.
Are you looking to buy new tires? Your one time Internet search for tires builds a profile marketers use to manipulate what you see on the web. Notice how you are now served ads for new tires on nearly every website afterwards? Creepy, right?
Selling your data via clicks and cookies is the primary revenue source for Internet giants. How much money have you directly given to Facebook? Zero? Exactly, YOU are the product. Facebook is selling your data, and their billions of other users’ data, to advertisers.
If this is the status quo how do we break free? How do we take back control of the Internet? One way is via microtransactions (very small fees attached to actions online) or via paywalls.
One way we’ve seen companies attempt to generate revenue for web content that doesn’t rely on selling your data is to turn to using paywalls. However, paywalls as they are currently used do not work.
A paywall is a way for a content producer to introduce a payment gateway to access privileged or valuable content on a website.
There are different kinds of paywalls. Soft paywalls let you click through after viewing an ad or banner for free. Hard paywalls require a payment to proceed.
Have you ever clicked on a headline that caught your interest only to be greeted by a paywall? What was that experience like for you?
Even under the best conditions, in a private place with your credit card in hand, did you take the time to enter your credit card details to pay $1 to read an article? Odds are, no, definitely not. By the time you’ve overcome the friction of entering your address and exposing your card online your interest in that article has likely faded to zero and you’ve closed the site disappointed and frustrated.
Cookies are all about money and it affects one of our most valuable resources, information. Our personal data is commoditized and sold in bulk for profit by large companies. As a result the incentives for producing online content are misaligned. Paying a professional journalist to do months of research to publish an in depth article is less profitable than a clickbait site using cookies to farm your data for affiliate marketing.
Getting back to paywalls and the way they can save the Internet. The reason it’s difficult to access information behind a hard paywall is that paywalls rely on credit cards for payment. Credit cards are poor payment methods for small transactions, especially online. Exposing your credit card to a website carries a level of risk for you, the consumer, that outweighs the benefit of reading a article behind a paywall, not to mention the time and effort involved in typing in the information.
Yet companies still use paywalls with credit cards because there hasn’t been a better option.
To be clear, I’m not against charging for valuable content (I use a paywall on this site occasionally, but more on that below). What I am pointing out here is that paywalls as they are currently implemented, using credit cards, do not work. If you run a website with a paywall using a credit card you are likely just pissing off your target audience. It’s not the paywall it’s the reliance on credit cards that is the problem. Why drive traffic to your content only to put a burden of using a credit card to proceed? Seems really silly, yet it happens all the time.
I assert that paywalls as currently implemented will hurt publications struggling to transition print revenues to online revenues. These old guard publications often have higher journalistic standards than the majority of the web’s clickbait sites. However, sites with journalistic integrity are losing the monetization game because credit cards are in the way of them delivering valuable content in microtransactions. The result is clickbait is more profitable than honest reporting, journalism is dying, the web gets dumber, and so do we.
There is a better way, although it will take a while for mass adoption. The current financial system is not competitive in processing microtransactions electronically in a cost efficient manner. This has impacted our experience of the Internet. This failure by banks to serve the microtransaction industry hurts content producers who would benefit from millions of small transactions.
If you have made it this far, don’t close this site when you finish this paragraph. I am pointing towards what I see will be the future of the Internet where information has/is value. This will shift incentives and alter how we share data globally. This is where Bitcoin SV enters the picture, not as a paywall but as the backbone of a new Internet where incentives are on quality of information vs manipulation of user behavior.
Bitcoin SV fees are less than a penny and have (practically speaking) zero fraud. This is a breakthrough in finance and information sharing. I’ll cover the paywall angle below but after that I’m going to go one step further. Read to the end to see what I envision as Internet 2.0
There are a few different ways to use Bitcoin SV as a paywall. On this site I have moneybutton.com as a donation button on the main page and I’ve added Mediopay as a way to paywall certain content. Here’s what a Mediopay paywall looks like:
Pay what you want for 51 characters behind the wall.
0.00 of 25.00 USD reached to shut down the paywall for all. Pay 25.00 USD to become the sponsor of this post.
Don't know how to pay? Learn and get free BSV!
To be fair, the Mediopay paywall only solves the user experience of a paywall for those who already have Bitcoin SV. But once you have BSV it’s a simple click to access that content anywhere BSV is accepted. The friction of getting past the paywall is gone. It’s a night and day difference from paywalls using credit cards and I could charge a few pennies for that content and still be profitable. Every charge a few pennies on a credit card? Microtransactions on a credit cards are often impossible with many cards charging a minimum fee of 35 cents.
Imagine the revenue sites like The New York Times could make if there were a way to charge a penny per page view.
But alas, when visiting nytimes.com instead we get this option to sign away our data and agree to long legalese terms of service policies.
Thanks but no thanks. In the past year the problem has gotten worse. When GDPR went into effect rather than fix the problem most sites put in workarounds that made their sites less user friendly. I’d struggle to find a site that changed their data handling procedures other than force their cookie policies on users.
And there is the chicken and the egg dilemma. How do we transition from an incentives system based on user data, advertising and manipulation to a system where information can be cheaply and profitably rewarded?
The only system in the world that can process microtransactions at scale is Bitocin SV. Most people do not know what BSV is, how to get it, or how to secure it. Onboarding people to BSV should not be the problem a BSV powered paywall wants to solve.
The bigger opportunity here is to become the single platform for the web that allows content producers to monetize their value via microtransactions securely and with near zero fees. The Amazon of Internet Microtransactions (the race to be this leader has already begun with moneybutton.com leading the way).
Imagine an Internet where incentives are aligned with quality content. BSV is behind the scenes, invisible to the user, processing transactions. Banners, cookies, data leaks and identity theft are now no longer the primary way to monetize content online! With an Internet built on microtransactions the incentives shift towards quality journalism and orignial art. This is the start of a new Renaissance, lifting us up out of the dopamine manipulated era of social media clickbait.
BSV is the plumbing allowing content producers to take back the web via instant, cheap and fraud proof microtransactions. With a paywall powered with BSV you could charge as little as a few pennies for an article and still turn a profit. The user never knows the paywall uses BSV, all the user knows is this single paywall provider gets them access to content they want across multiple sites for pennies per article. And with the pseudonymous nature of BSV your personal data is never shared. This is how the future web will work. If not, we will all drown in clickbait and banner ads.
All of this is easier said than done, but hear me out. If The Sun, Chicago Tribune and other paywalled sites had a single platform that could offload the expense of them running their own paywall at a lower cost that paywall could be used in more places. As mentioned above, the Amazon of paywalls.
How much would you pay per day to have an Internet that has more valuable content and zero ads? 5 cents? 10 cents? 1 dollar? Now multiply that by millions to billions of users every day. This may be years away, but it’s coming.
Enter: The Network Effect
The value of a single fax machine in the 80’s was increased with every fax machine that was sold afterwards because with every fax machine sold there were more endpoints a single fax machines could access. The more fax machines in existence the more valuable each fax machines becomes. The Network Effect runs opposite to Supply and Demand value matrix. In the Network Effect Supply and Demand become a positive feedback loop. The more endpoints the more value for everyone. The same logic applies to a BSV powered paywall. The more places that use a BSV powered paywall the more incentive users have to use that paywall processor as it’s like Visa, everywhere you want to be (but microtransaction friendly). Users have a reason to establish an account with this paywall provider and use it everywhere. Simple, secure, cheap! Eventually that paywall becomes ubiquitous. Valuable content can be rewarded and users can directly access the curated information that is of interest to them. At that point a paywall is no longer a paywall but a junk filter.
Most of the content on the web is worthless because companies are not incentivized to provide valuable content. They are incentivized to get you to click on ads for pennies a click.
To have valuable content we need an incentive system that rewards content people value and ignores content that provides no value.
Now, to go a step beyond Paywalls as I mentioned above to Internet 2.0. Imagine an Internet completely based on microtransactions. There is no visible paywall because the entire Internet is based on microtransactions (running on BSV). This is what Dr Craig Wright calls Metanet (any misinterpretations of the Metanet are mine and I acknowledge the Metanet is much more than a micropayment structure for web browsing).
On the Metanet the mindless manipulation of the masses is no longer profitable compared to providing valuable useful data. By paying that microtransaction you have taken back the Internet. Incentives reward quality information so quality information proliferates. You and your data are no longer the product that is being monetized!
We’ve dug a deep hole with the current Internet and the impact on society is still being researched. There is very little value in the millions of webpages available today because we lack a reliable way to assign value. The cost has been that low value sites dominate. To turn this tide we need an affordable way to reward valuable content.
Content producers who deliver valuable content deserve compensation. If the content is really valuable they can accumulate millions of microtransactions. Value is rewarded and they are incentivized to continue producing valuable content. You win and they win.
Paywalls and microtransactions can save the Internet. We can go from garbage to effective and seamless garbage filters. Metanet, coming soon.