Bitcents Launches 'Fully Functional' Micropayment System

By: E&P Staff Bitcents, a San Francisco and London-based technology startup, announced Wednesday thelaunch of what it's hailing as the first fully functional micropayment system for news organizations and consumers.

Its micropayment platform allows publishers to charge on a per-story basis and set their own prices, which can vary according to the age or type of story. Then, bitcents will enable readers to purchase and view content across the Web using just one account.

The developers of bitcents consider their product a platform for both news organizations and the general public. Papers looking to charge for content create subscriber networks using the bitcents technology, and users pay to join those networks. Subscribing to a network grants those users access to all of bitcents' partnering Web sites, and the subscriber network receives a portion of the revenue that they helped their partner organizations earn. Developers also can build tools to help their subscribing users to find and share content.

News organizations joining the bitcents platform still keep their content discoverable through search engines like Google, which bitcents says won?t harm regular traffic to their sites. Many current paywall systems render a Web site's news unsearchable from outside sites.

Currently, bitcents' only subscriber network is tppnce, which donates its profits to organizations that train and support journalists. It also gives its users the option of ?extra privacy? when they sign up. This extra privacy guarantees that none of the stories a user reads are linked to his or her account.

?The advent of news micropayments will reward those who provide their readers original, high-quality content at a reasonable price," bitcents founder Andrew Brennan said in a statement. ?The lessons are clear: for paid content to work, the payment system must provide breadth of coverage and ease of use, but consumers must also feel they are paying a fair price.?


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