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The future of micropayments

Bruce Lawson gave a really great talk at the State of the Browser conference put on by London Web Standards. #

Bruce was eulogising about a new way of taking micropayments using Coil, with the intention of it actually becoming a web standard.

I have seen that Chris Coyier and recently Andy Bell have both added it to their sites and the general chatter really got me thinking about how this might affect our browsing experience in the future. Coil currently works in Puma browser and only has extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but it is open to sign up for now (in BETA) and has various contributors already on there but things are very much at an early stage.

I am still not 100% on how it works during a session or if you leave a page open or in another tab - the docs say:

“Payment continues until the user closes/leaves the page. The browser MAY decide to stop/start payment at any time, e.g. if the user is idle or backgrounds the page.”

I also wonder what happens with cached content or revisiting the exact same page, do you pay to visit the page no matter once or just one time.

Why is this a good thing? #

For a starter this is a great thing for content creators of all types. Artists and creatives, bloggers and musicians will all be able to receive payment for people accessing content without having to spoil the experience with ads and modal pop ups.

The ability to offer premium content for paying visitors that is a good alternative to subscription services and would be loads less annoying than things like Medium. It is anonymous so users privacy is respected.

How could things change? #

This is potentially great news for the future of the web, but how might it affect how we browse as more of the web become pay to view by default even if it is fractions of a cent rather than premium levels!

Perhaps we will become more cautious of the links we follow, leading to the need for better excerpts or information accompanying links.

Will it increase us living within our little bubbles? Not wanting to pay others we disagree with leading to us missing out on opposing views and opinions.

Will it get rid of the 20 page articles with a sentence on each as the user will constantly be initialising a stream?

Where do we go from here? #

I am super excited to see where this leads and really hope that it is something that becomes a web standard and maybe evens things up for the little guy again.

As it happens In collaboration with Mozilla and Creative Commons, Coil have announced a $100 million fund to advance #WebMonetization for creators. They will be making grants ($1K-$100K) to developers & creators who support & promote Web Monetization Majority of the grant money will go to openly licensed software and content.