SatoshiPay, an online payments company headquartered in London, announced the launch of a platform for Web publishers, offering a new way to monetize content through frictionless micropayments.
SatoshiPay’s payment technology gives users the ability to transact amounts as small as one cent or less – which the company refers to as “nanopayments” – by leveraging blockchain technology.
“Nanopayments can be fractions of a cent. They are instantly settled and can be executed at high frequency. Imagine a couple of payments per second by a single user,” said SatoshiPay co-founder and CEO Meinhard Benn. “This enables completely new ways of monetizing Web content and digital goods in general. In an increasingly digital society, nanopayments allow for new business models that existing payment technology cannot facilitate due to its fee structure and trust models.”
SatoshiPay Ltd. is headquartered in London and development is done through the Berlin subsidiary SatoshiPay Germany UG, founded by Benn, Henning Peters and Kilian Thalhammer in 2014. In July 2015, the company won second prize at Coinbase Bithack.
“SatoshiPay is a bitcoin nanopayment wall for publishers which allows you to pay for the section of text that really interests you, make metered payments for streaming video, and make paid downloads with a single click,” noted the Coinbase announcement. SatoshiPay recently announced that it closed a €360,000 seed funding round.
“SatoshiPay would like to become a standard for paying for digital goods on the Web,” Benn told Bitcoin Magazine. “It’s widely assumed that micro or nanopayments are one of the applications that could become Bitcoin’s killer-app. We strongly agree and we hope that we built a use case that can prove this.”
Micropayments are difficult to implement with traditional payment systems, because the overhead costs (transaction fees) would be too high. But fast micropayments with the low transaction fees permitted by Bitcoin enable alternative models for paid online content.
We are used to a “free” Internet where nobody has to pay, but, of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The price that we pay for free email is spam, and the price that we pay for free content is rampant advertising – often annoying, intrusive, and ugly – or registration to websites that could sell their registered users list to spammers. Needless to say, many users install ad-blockers and don’t register to websites with mandatory sign-up. The company recommends trying the SatoshiPay model as an alternative to ads and registration.
In SatoshiPay there is no registration, and payments are done with one click or tap. The user can also choose to pay for content completely automatically. The balance of the user’s SatoshiPay wallet is displayed in the SatoshiPay’s floating Web widget at the bottom of the publisher’s website (example here). The user’s balance is shared across all websites that integrate with the SatoshiPay widget, and a user interface to manage SatoshiPay wallets is in the works. Publishers can join the SatoshiPay nanopayment network and install a Wordpress plugin, and more options for both publishers and users are expected to be available later on.
“A lot of people are talking about how smart contracts and payment channels can power tomorrow’s applications,” Benn told Bitcoin Magazine. We’ve built something that is already very useful today.”
Florian Glatz, a developer who is also SatoshiPay’s lawyer, wrote an article to explain how SatoshiPay is prototyping innovative uses of smart contracts “to change the Internet economy forever.” The SatoshiPay service is a trustless intermediary that mediates contractual negotiations and performance between buyers and sellers of digital goods, without those parties having to trust the service with their money, by implementing micropayment channels built on 2-of-2 multisig addresses and the nLockTime property.
The SatoshiPay service seems a clever and streamlined way to monetize online content without annoying readers, and the first impression is that it could really change the Internet economy once it achieves a critical mass of users and publishers.
“We automatically generate a Bitcoin wallet for each website visitor – without them even knowing,” Benn told Bitcoin Magazine. “When users that were previously not familiar with Bitcoin realize they have a wallet now, they might be curious to learn more about Bitcoin and its other applications. So besides being an easy-to-use payment tool, our product also helps to spread the word. As someone on Twitter put it: Blockchain is moving into publishing.”
“Go to satoshipay.io and show me your QR code,” is Benn’s message to people that wonder how to get bitcoins. “I will send you some bitcoins right now and you can start using them. There is no on-boarding.”