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International micropayments...
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ragtag
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2001 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I've been looking around at the "not quite yet" micropayment systems available on the net. And noticed that many of them are US based and limit users other places in the world. The Amazon Honor system says that:

"Payment Transactions can be credited only to bank checking accounts in the United States."

PayPal has a similair restriction, with the option to use banks in a few other countries. And PayPal has this to say on the matter:

"Per PayPal's Terms of Use, you may only ship to the countries on the PayPal Approved Countries list. If you ship to a country not on this list PayPal reserves the right to restrict your account. "

Although it's more relevant to people shipping something, than those just selling online stuff.

But wouldn't such a system for it to fully work have to be fully international. So anyone, anywhere in the world could buy or sell online comics or other content.

And if it were, might not different prices for different parts of the world be a good idea, $1 will not get you the same thing in the US as it will in India, or Norway where I live (you get next to nothing for $1 here...sigh).

Are there any solutions to international micropayments in sight? And might not a peer to peer solution be a must to achive something like this, as any kind of centralized system would by it's nature have to located in a country somewhere?

Ragnar


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John2two
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2001 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ragnar, you're right that that automatic currency conversion among all significant national currencies is a prime requirement for a micropayment system. Without it, a proposed mupay system can never be what the internet economy needs.

Most of the US-designed offerings seem to forget this, due to our cultural arrogance or some cynical calculus about the comparative potential volume of transnational commerce. The European and Israeli-designed offerings are much more likely to have competent currency conversion features.

Check the micropayment comparison table to help point you toward proposed systems that have their thinking caps on regarding multi-currency support. And if you learn more than is there, email it to me so that our bin of fact-collection can grow richer.

As to your other point about exchange rates and differential buying power... that's a real tough one. My guess is that those issues will only get worked out through pricing as a worldwide micro-commerce emerges.

Think about this, though. When a Bangladeshi artist can sell his art in the same www market as an American, what will that do to his buying power within that market?

John
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2001 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I once met a guy from the US somewhere, he had just finished his education to become a lawyer, a 'bar' exam, or something like that. He had seen the Mooloo comics on-line and wanted to visit when he 'did Europe'.

Anyway, he was shocked that 'us Europeans' didn't hardly even know what a US dollar was (apart from being the currency in the US that is).

He seriously believed that we all go around working things out in US dollars and then converting them into our local currencies at point of sale. We were shocked. He otherwise seemed like a smart guy ... he was at least smart enough to get through law school.

I think that many of the micropayment systems under development currently suffer from a similar thinking. Or maybe they haven't thought about it at all.

Lyle
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cweb
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2002 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone know of any developments in this area? It would be interesting for those of us in European countries and the rest of the non-US world...


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CTO@UCL
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2002 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The GSM have been working on the issue of Global Micropayments for quite a while. This is becoming increasingly important to the telcos who need to generate additonal sources of income.

Mobile Telcos habe the customer base and the billing systems and can easily adapt them to mPayments. The key issue at the momnet is how to extend this to the Roaming Scenario so that phone usesr can use their mobiles to make payment regardless of the network in use.

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InkAddict
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When it comes to micropayments, Belgium has an edge some of you may know (though it will probably have other names!):

It's called "PROTON" and it has been dubbed "the electronic purse" since it first started only 7 years ago.
There's more info for you techies HERE: (in PDF format)

http://csecmc1.vub.ac.be/cfec/WCE-text.pdf

It is a microchipped card that "stores" money and can be used by anyone in any shop equipped with the system. It can store a reasonable amount of money, and you can pay with it rapidly, even when it comes down to ridiculously small amounts (which is actually what micropayment is all about!)

There is an aspect that is also important: the shops having the electronic purse (EP) system available, pay about 5% on every transaction. This is an amount ridiculously small when it comes to transactions of a couple of cents (which is possible), and some shops complained about the high rates, but now almost every shop in Belgium has this system available, and Proton has sold licences to Australia(Quicklink/ECARD), Canada(Exact), The Netherlands(Chipknip), Sweden(Cash) and Switzerland(Cash) as well as a global (non-exclusive) licence to American Express (read the aforementioned PDF if you don't believe me).

4% on all you gain is a small price to pay, and more interesting than the current system of a fixed price per transaction! Especially when it comes down to things that have small prices to start with!

I hope this system will one day have its internet counterpart (some possibilities are actually being researched today; one of them being a small device you can plug your microchipped card into, which could also limit risks of computer errors in payment over the internet as your EP doesn't have to contain all your money).

EP/Proton has already become standard in Belgium, and every Belgian credit card now has the chip so it can be used as an electronic purse. If automatic conversion of currency becomes available in this sector becomes available, and thus anyone could use this card anywhere in the world, as long as it has the EP system available in shops, it could well become the next big thing.

Combined with a home terminal/card reader (which should cost about US$ 45.00 (not so much at all, if you could use it on every website you have to pay for and it gives you the security of not having to give out credit card information!), this may be the long-sought-after micropayment system!!!

Of course 5% on every transaction seems little compared to what is usually asked for transactions, and it would seem that banks would charge more, but making this a standard payment system could be more important to them than trying to win more money in a sector (i.e. the micropayment sector) that would otherwise prefer to keep on doing business in real life, without using their system at all.

I only thought of this system while reading these threads, and it was while doing some research that i stumbled upon its great potential.

This info is dated though (All figures are for 1997), so things may have changed a little.

If anyone has other info on this or knows if this already exists and isn't as great as it seems because i missed the point somewhere i'd really like to know
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ragtag
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Proton system sounds like a step in the right direction. Though I see a problem with it when it comes to online payments. I don't think a lot of people will jump out and buy $45 hardware for their computer, just so they can pay for stuff online with their Proton card. The most tech savy people might, but not most people (my mum wouldn't go out and buy one).

So either such a card reader would have to become a standard part of most computers (like a cd-rom drive is today). Or Proton would have to start giving away, or selling readers very cheaply (special deal kind of stuff) when you renew your Proton card. After allt, they are getting 5% of every transaction you make with the card.

Though the idea of having just one card, that you can pay small amounts with, use as a bank card and use as a credit card (for larger amounts)...sound kind of appealing.

Ragnar
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InkAddict
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As those who make proton cards and benefit most of them, are banks, I guess they won't launch themselves in the computer hardware industry, so there won't be massproduced protonmachines.

The major computer companiesmight well be interested though, as they have similar problems to comics: their shipping costs are extremely high! (I remember some shareware programmer talking about "a lot of empty boxes filled with silicon valley air"), and still they have to keep their boxes big to attract attention on the shelves! (sounds familiar, I know!)

If Microsoft, Apple, or another major software company with influence on the hardware industry, starts selling their software online with a similar system (it can be used for paid tech support, small extra programs and upgrades,...), they could well make things roll!

Quote:
such a card reader would have to become a standard part of most computers (like a cd-rom drive is today)


This might happen very quickly, if only as some futurists (scientists trying to predict the future) have poned the hypothesis that every evolving technology will only sell if it keeps evolving.

The phone is a great example: it sold millions, then stopped selling.
second boom, when beepers and car phones became available.
third boom with cellular phones... and this time the industry has understood it: since the cellular phone: they haven't stopped adding new thingamajiggs (a database of names, new ringtones, little games, SMS, WAP, internet soon...)...

...and the same is happening to computers: to really make things sell, the major companies have been implementing new technologies. At first they were sold seperately at high prices (extra hard disks, CD-ROM drives, CD-burners, Modems, ...)
And as computers grow faster, there may be a time soon, when most of the users don't need a faster computer, and all actual thingamajiggs have already been implemented at a reasonnable price!

...They will automatically implement proton or a similar system, if only to keep the cutting edge in the bizz.



Otherwise I guess it would be Apple that would first come up with it, and this for 3 reasons:

    ? They have a serious pioneering history (everything we know of that defines our view of the actual computer -- mouse, graphical interface,...--has often started as an apple gimmick, before --often very soon-- other companies di likewise)

    ? They can easily fill in offer and demand, as they sell hardware AND software, so they can sell the proton system, and already offer the apple software available through it!

    ? They are the graphical art's major company and it is the graphical industry that could most benefit of the implementation of a way to sell pay-per-view at extremely low costs

    I wonder if it would help writing a letter to Apple

    Maybe I'll try

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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yingo wrote:
The phone is a great example: it sold millions, then stopped selling.


Quite unrealted to the rest of what you're saying, I don't think the analysis of how phone sales works is correct. Telephones have never stopped selling because they are perennials, like cars and refrigerators- People buy them because they view them as essential to modern life, and when they wear out, they replace them. In fact, more people buy phones than either cars or refrigerators, because they're much cheaper. Pagers and mobile phones are recent variations and additions to basic telephony, but hardly signal a resurgence of interest in the basic concept. There are very few technologies that have become as essential and integral to modern life, but the telephone is one of them. It hasn't stopped selling, there's simply no hype because it's so basic.
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InkAddict
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't think the analysis of how phone sales works is correct. Telephones have never stopped selling because they are perennials, like cars and refrigerators


I'm sorry I used the wrong words


Phones last a certain time, and then get replaced. They didn't stop selling all those years (i really goofed in my explanation, I admit), it only sold less than before (when everybody had to get a phone). Since then its sales have known a few small booms, every time the technology got better (as with the first touch-tone phones for example)

Actually every useful appliance has a rate of replacement: When it gets broken, you buy a new one; when it gets outdated, you buy a new one; ...

This rate grows when a new technology is introduced, but it doesn't drop to zero when there's a status quo (even phones get broken, and people get tired of still having the phone they married with, when
time goes by )

When a new technology arrives you can expect a boom though, as people are eager to possess the latest hype, or simply because the new technology offers advantages over the earlier one.

Thanx for pointing out my mistake

(Actually the part about the phones isn't really mine, it's based on a documentary on the expansion of cellular phones. Only I messed it up a little in my retelling the story )
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