BitMonet: BitPay’s Newest Merchant
BitMonet’s embrace of Bitcoin through BitPay alleviates excessively high interchange fees that make many micropayments impractical. As a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, Bitcoin paves the way for micropayments over the Internet. International payments are also more feasible. BitMonet provides publishers with a monetization tool for digital content.
BitMonet was started in 2013 by Ankur Nandwani and Valerie Chao and is free and easy to install, allowing publishers to sell individual content a-la-carte, or through time-metered access. Through BitMonet, publishers can bring in greater returns than traditional advertising. For example, even at a price point of 1 cent per content, a publisher can receive 10 dollars per 1,000 views. Services like BitMonet also provide a better reading experience as the focus is shifted from advertising to content.
Moving forward, publishers with a BitPay merchant account can now install the BitMonet script on their website and start collecting payments. As with all merchants, BitPay will permit publishers using BitMonet to decide whether to keep incoming bitcoins or exchange for a different currency.
Bitcoin Magazine had an opportunity to interview Ankur Nandwani of BitMonet.
Bitcoin Magazine: When did you first hear about Bitcoin?
Ankur Nandwani: I first heard about Bitcoin when a friend of mine asked for help in evaluating potential investment opportunities in Bitcoin companies. So in the process of preparing a report, I ended up learning a lot about the technology behind Bitcoin and the various companies in the space.
BM: What was it about Bitcoin that you found interesting?
AN: What I've found the most interesting is the financial system that is being built around Bitcoin. The same financial system that exists in more traditional currencies is developing around Bitcoin, only at a hyper-aggressive pace. Being able to witness the birth and growth of this financial system has been extremely interesting for me.
BM: When did you first get the idea for your services and what inspired you to create the site?
AN: I am an avid news reader. I spend 2-3 hours every day reading news from all over the world. Over the last few years, I've noticed that some of the websites I visit have started putting up paywalls. Often, when I want to read only one article, paying $20 for a subscription just doesn't make sense. So I started doing research on how I could deal with this problem. This was around the time that I was researching Bitcoin investment opportunities, and it just clicked for me.
BM: Were there any pre-existing businesses that inspired you to create your services?
AN: I developed the initial concept when I noticed a void in the market around ways for publishers to accept Bitcoin; most of the solutions out there were too generic, and did not focus on any specific vertical market. The ones that did exist were built around traditional payment methods, which made it difficult to monetize a single piece of content.
BM: Where do you see services going in a year?
AN: Right now we are only focussing on the publisher vertical, so for the next few months we plan to optimize and improve our current offering for that specific type of user. We're planning on developing plugins for a number of popular publishing platforms. Once we have a strong foothold, we plan to look into expanding into other areas like social gaming and mobile platforms like Android and iOS. As we have mentioned before, all these solutions will be offered for free, and incur no transactions fees.
BM: What makes your product stand out in comparison to other businesses utilizing Bitcoin?
AN: Compared to other products, BitMonet is much easier to use and gives a much larger opportunity for customization. By offering an easy way for publishers to customize BitMonet, the solution can fit the current branding of the product and whatever payment model the publisher desires, either a-la-carte, or through time-metered access.
BM: What are your suggestions for individuals hoping to start a business like yours?
AN: We've decided that instead of running BitMonet as a business, we're going to use it to promote adoption of Bitcoin. That's why we are making our library open source and available free for anyone to download and modify. Additionally, there are no transaction fees for using BitMonet. We're hoping that others follow our lead so that Bitcoin can become more widespread.
BM: If I am a customer looking to use your services, how can I get started?
AN:Getting started with BitMonet is really easy; it takes about 10 minutes. We provide step-by-step instructions on how to integrate BitMonet into your existing website on our documentation page. We're also happy to answer any technical questions that may come up, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We find feedback really valuable and are always looking for ways to improve BitMonet.