A number of startups in the United States and Canada have been in the news this past year with their launches of new micropayments solutions. Yet, a company in Europe — Germany to be exact — is leading the way with micropayments.
Firstgate Internet, out of Cologne, has been in operation since 2000. The company boasts nearly 2 million customers, at a time when the North American providers are either still in Beta stage or number their customers in the hundreds and thousands.
Micropayments describes a payment system that enables consumers to pay small amounts (often less than $2 USD) for Web content. While each of the micropayments solutions works differently, they all are designed to enable small Websites, independent publishers, writers and artists to sell content affordably and still make money without having all their profit eaten up by credit card transaction fees.
See the article at MIT Technology Review for more about the current status of micropayments businesses.
Micropayments have the potential to enable small Web businesses, independent publishers, writers and artists to sell content affordably over the Web. One of the main challenges is going to be getting enough small businesses, artists and Website merchants to adopt micropayments. Perhaps the new paid music download services will be enough to feul demand. The other challenge is to make the technology interface simple and easy for consumers to use.