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rcar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2001 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a system of being paid for our efforts could work if we did it together. From the other posts in micropayments it seem the problem is being worked on. If we had a central site were someone only had to put their payment information once then be able to browse through registered sites maybe something like comicon booths and pick the comics they would like to suscribe to. Let?s say a quarter for a month per comic site, a dollar for six months (I?m just throwing out numbers). The money could add up per fan. They could see a preview of the site to see if they are interested, then for only a quarter get access for a whole month. Something where we worked together just may work.

randy
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2001 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are right, both in saying that the micropayment tech is on its way and in that doing it centrally would help.

I've followed up every single lead, bar none, contained in the previous micropayments thread (by the way, there are NO micropayment companies on the W3C page) and found nothing that is realistically going to lead to any true micropayments backed by a decent sized company.

Then I found this:
http://www.newgenpay.com/
which is a spin off of IBM's, R&D. This is REAL micropayment technology, and it is working NOW. Individual sites don't sign up to use it though. Instead, anyone can license it and then run the servers and do all the dirty work themselves, basically providing the micropayment technology themselves. Check out the demo. The site is currently running live by an outfit called:
http://www.cartio.com
who appear to have only one customer, a dutch site called:
http://www.factlane.nl/
which appears to be a co-operation between a news aggregator and the Dutch Institute for Management (micropayments for deep news and academic papers). To sign up for the dutch service you currently need to be a member of one of the right organisations, but they are talking about opening it up so that the (dutch speaking) public can also pay for access.

As far as banding together goes, this could be done in two areas, banding together (not me by the way, I'm don't want any money) to liscence the system from Newgenpay and run a micropayments for webcomics service, or banding together to rent the service from Cartio, as a collective.

That's all for now. Quick summary, micropayments are now possible, but there is still a vacancy in the "let's provide the service to comics department".

Cheers
Lyle
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2001 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I've never really been anxious for a comics-specific solution. The more generally-applied, the better.

Anyone else want to offer thoughts on http://www.newgenpay.com/ ?

For what it's worth, I'm finally FINALLY finishing Part Two of the micropayments installments of I Can't Stop Thinking (#6). It will be up in a day or two, along with a complete site redesign shortly thereafter.

Best,

--Scott

[And remember, since micros still haven't taken root yet, let's keep giving Cat Garza money so he can make to the San Diego panel -- cause his bills sure ain't "micro" this month!]

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rcar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2001 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I checked out newgenpay and it seems to be what I was talking about. I am not an expert on such matters, but it looks right.

As for a comics-specific, I don't know exactly how the service would work, but it seems it would transend to other types of sites who are trying to get micropayments.
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cgallaty
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple points/questions... First of all, my first reaction to the problem is that, at least to start, micropayments could be managed by a portal website. You could use a trusted service like PayPal to transfer the initial balance, which limits the liability of the portal (i.e. no credit card numbers to guard) and removes the fear of the customer that they are just going to get charged at random. They can set a cap that they are comfortable with, and once that trust is gained, they will start carrying larger balances. The balance method also gives the site padding to handle expences. The other advantage is that the portal is a way for artists to be found. The user can go to one spot and find artists that they can support in the means they feel comfortable.

That's the start I think, building the trust of the reader. This also makes the venture solely 'Comic' in nature. The only issue is the portal making money. They could eithe r take a cut of sales, or rent space to the artist, with all profits after that for the artist. I would suggest offering both, as they both have advantages, depending on your situation.
One thing that I wanted some clarity on was the nature of online comics. The example I think of is the video store. I can go to Blockbuster, and rent a movie to watch as many times as I want for a limited time. Now I can also choose to buy that same movie to own, but I have to pay more up front. The model works. For movies I really like, I buy them, and for ones I'm not sure about, I rent (and then forget to return on time at a rate at which I fear buying is becoming a cheaper option
Now I can see this happening in the comic market. If there is a title that I follow, I can see myself wanting to own that comic, so I can reread it later. However, sometimes that is an issue that I just want to pick up as it caught my eye. I may not wish to own it, just read it to see what it's about. It lends itself to the same model as the video store. The issue is persistance. The very nature of the Net means that I have to copy the work to view it. By this definition, the cache on my brower is violating copyright rules. I think this is where the dispute comes in. There are some that feel that the honor system is great, but difficult to sell to investors. I personally believe is could work, and have half a mind to write the software, host the site, and find out. I think that the browser is a bad way to deliver this content though. I would suggest a Java based solution that could offer control to the artists that want it, but not those that don't. You would simply keep the cache under wraps, and have the software save a file out if a person buys the comic outright.


I should comment that I can's stand the idea of time bomb files, or files with counters, or time limits in them. This is just going to taunt people into craking them for fun. An encrypted cache is easier to do and you could rotate methods or even update them. Plus it would be easier to control the transactions. Using Java means that you could run it through a browser if need be, and wouldn't have to worry able cross platform.

Anyway, I think that is, at least an early, manageable solution, that strikes a balance between artist and reader. Now granted, if not done right, someone like Marvel, or DC could use their cash to start a site like this, and it would degrade to the present state. So artists should have a stake in the company (investing capital, trading for space) but it has to be a pooled effort. Strength in numbers. And above all, you need programmers that know programming, and artists that know art. Blur that line and you run into trouble.

I guess in payment for Scott's comic on the subject, this is my micropayment... my 2 cents.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Subscription web pages already exist (Forbes, for instance).

The advertising model has obviously not worked. Television ads work because you don't have to click through. You can't escape the ads.

My expectation is that combines similar to the advertising combines will bundle their websites for distribution with a set fee that allows access to all their sites. Some advertising will, no doubt, remain. Someone else suggested portals -- maybe this is the same thing. I don't want to be forced to subscribe to AOL for access to the net.

The true miracle of the net is in it's diversity. The sheer volume of information is like the libraries at Constantinople -- only bigger. It's a forum. It's a newspaper. It's entertainment. It's companionship.

I don't want to have to pay individually for every site I log on. I would gladly pay for a bundle of sites -- and maybe even give up a few of my favorites in the process.

Anyhow, that't my take on micropayments.

My other observation is that the banner ad is a failure. If anyone has noticed, ZDNet has flash enabled ads that are about 200 X 300 that contain the entire advertising message. I feel strangely compelled to read them. It's more like television ads. Or the auto dealer's ad on page two of the newspaper. You can't avoid it so you read it. Goofy banner ads that flash pink and acid green force my eye away.

Well I posted anonymously because I have never been on this site. Who better than a cartoonist to explain what makes sense.

Thanks for the forum. CapZap
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I micropayments are never going o be successful. The reason is that the risk (finding undesirable content) is greater than the reward (even that filtered by a supposedly compatible opinion like a professional surfer) for the user so they will avoid pay-per-view pages. Pay-per-view TV has this same problem. Namely, only well known pay-per-view programs like the WWF, heavyweight title matches, pornography and the the occasional popular movie that's no longer in theatres and not yet available on tape or DVD ever generate consistent (or large) revenue.

If the issue is creating a financial relationship between content with a small but dedicated audience (as a jazz fan who actually pays for recordings by living jazz artists I think I qualify) I think the crux of the problem is in reducing the risk of paying for unwanted content.

Here's a proposal, content providers should ally with ISPs. The ISPs have the ability to track what content got delivered to whom. They can then charge the user for their aggregate viewing (or weight the cost of delivered pages but that's a technicality) and then split the proceeds with the content provider. If AOL would stop trying to become the CBS of the internet it's possible they could become the first company to do this. This paradigm already works in the music world with ASCAP and BMI, except for the fact that radio stations are not members of ASCAP.

With all the systems develped for tracking massive numbers of small transactions (ie. the stock market, electric usage etc.) the economics could probably be adjusted so users pay a flat fee (thus removing risk) and the proceeds are distributed equitably (although with a small risk that unpopular content gets all proceeds rounded to zero) to content producers.
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Max Leibman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I micropayments are never going o be successful. The reason is that the risk (finding undesirable content) is greater than the reward (even that filtered by a supposedly compatible opinion like a professional surfer) for the user so they will avoid pay-per-view pages.


Actually, that will be the trick, but I don't think it will prevent micropayments (which, remember, will typically be a penny to a few cents, not a dime or $.50 or $1). It will just require a complementary technology: The Reputation Manager.

Essentially, this is something like a more-automated version of the "professional surfers" McCloud mentioned -- when people feel burned about a page, or enjoyed it, they would have an opportunity to click a button (just as simple as the process of paying with a micropayment) and rate it. An automated system would track all of the ratings and alert search engines and ad servers and whatnot accordinly. Pages that aren't worth users' time or money very rapidly accumulate bad reputations, and search engines and reputation managers' own portals will automatically put those sites at the bottom of the list, if not stop linking to them all together. The reputation manager would punish any page that charges but doesn't deliver good content. The risk of having the page eternally buried wouldn't be worth the few bucks you'd make off the first hundred or so hits it takes for the reputation manager to tabulate data and figure out that your page isn't popular with surfers.

Note that this is a simplified overview of the process. Yes, there would have to be more to it than that, to account for things like controversial pages that draw negative ratings from those with opposing viewpoints, regardless of quality.

Somebody much smarter than I has already taken on this topic a couple of times:

"The Reputation Manager"
"Reputation Managers are Happening"
both by Jakob Nielsen

I recommend checking them out.

-Max Leibman

And, while you're surfing Nielsen's thoughts, you may also want to see what he has to say about micropayments.

[ This Message was edited by: Max Leibman on 2001-06-18 12:55 ]
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2001 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And here's an article taking the opposite view:

http://www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2000/12/19/micropayments.html

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Verena
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2001 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad to see that you guys found NewGenPay interesting and appropriate for micropayments since I am the business development manager of NewGenPay.
I would like to clarify some points that has been raised in this thread. Firstly, NewGenPay develops software that could be used to enable multiple payment solutions. Besides micropayments, it could be used for mobile payments, global person-to-person money transfer and loyalty programs.
More importantly, the NewGenPay system enables different Payment Providers (such as telcos, ISPs and portals, banks and financial institutions) to interoperable securely creating a network of Payment Providers, Merchants/Content Providers and Consumers. This implies that a consumer of any Payment Provider could buy from a merchant of any other Payment Provider, enabling payment providers and merchants to increase revenues by reaching out to more consumers, and for consumers to have access to a larger variety of content/goods/services. This will be helpful to the newer content providers, that may have a more difficult time attracting visitors initially (as some of you has mentioned).
We are currently working with a very well-known company (can't reveal the name yet) on a mobile payment solution. It should be great for comics, imagine sending cartoons to your friends via your cellular phone!

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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2001 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I read that right, if such a system becomes available, content providers would be able to make cash by convincing people to sign up through their own websites, even though they reader ends up reading most of their content on someone elses. Some kind of giant affiliate program.(Of course, I may not have read that right!)

Also, with the mention of comics on mobile phones, I know some people here probably groaned and rolled their eyes, seeing as phones have tiny screens etc. However, the day is coming quite fast with phones with much larger screens, and in colour, so I think it is great that someone is working on a payment system, now, that will be enable paying for independant content on phones. Not only that, iMode, a very popular content-over-you-phone system in Japan, has "trading" comic characters as the second most popular service, after chat. Yes, people are more interested in trading comics and sending each other cartoons than they are checking the news, the weather, thee stocks, or buying plane tickets and all the other boring things the marketing geniuses tell us we want to do over our phones in the future.

Hopefully though, on the content side of things, this time round (on phones), everyone won't race out and offer every last drop of their content for free, but will think about "how am I going to pay for this" while putting it all together.

Here are some new phones
http://www.cellular.co.za/phones/motorola/2001/motorola_accompli_008.htm

http://www.cellular.co.za/phones/spectronic/spectronic-sidetouch.htm

http://www.cellular.co.za/ericsson_communicator_platform.htm

http://www.cellular.co.za/siemens_multimobile.htm

http://www.cellular.co.za/phones/nokia/nokia_9210.htm

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-07-03 02:24 ]
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2001 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see that creative minds are already working on the problem of micropayments. With so many people pondering the problems, there's bound to be some good, workable solutions very quickly.
My own idea seems to have already been at least partially presented. Simply put, have a "micro-tab", where people sign up with a website, and a tab is kept of their charges. The customer wouldn't have to pay until their aggregate charges were large enough to make the transaction costs (of checkwriting, money orders, and, of course, credit & debit cards) become worthwhile.
While there might be a potential for abuse, I can't see that anybody who deliberately doesn't run up their tab to a minimal amount is going to actually hurt the content provider, nor do I see it worthwhile for anybody to try and pursue collection-agency tactics for very small tabs.
This assumes that the micro-transaction technology is secure, of course, but that's a mere technical problem.
The idea of a third-party handling the financial transactions is an obvious one, because it would free the content provider from worrying about the money. The idea of combining several content providers under a single subscription plan is an interesting variant, but not one that I think is necessary.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yet another has contacted me:

http://www.cartio.com

They're Dutch, but definitely have international plans and already have the Dollar supported. Just in Beta as near as I can tell, but they seem pretty serious.

Who wants to do some more legwork?

:wink:

[ This Message was edited by: Scott McCloud on 2001-07-06 13:39 ]
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cartio have popped up in this forum here before. The post is here:

http://www.zwol.org/forum/viewtopic.php3?topic=37=2

They're based on the very much standards based, IBM's spin-off, NewGenPay. A contact from NewGenPay, Verena, also popped in here the other day. Her post is in this thread:
http://www.zwol.org/forum/viewtopic.php3?topic=37=2

NewGenPay has a demo on their site.
http://www.newgenpay.com/
I have tried out using both the web only version, and the 'download-and-install-the-wallet' version'. Both ran without a flaw. I was quite impressed, at the time thinking, "wow, micropayments are now possible".

If Cartio are offering you 'in' on their beta program, please jump in with both feet. Or throw someone else in.

Perhaps some comic sites could try running a 'demo' version, like NewGenPay have on their site, where you only play with funny money, but both parties (creators AND audience) at get to play with the technology.

Lyle

EDIT: I just edited the words "not possible" in an above paragraph, to "now possible", which is what I meant in the first place. Sorry if any confusion was caused.-- Lyle

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-07-06 17:55 ]
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, it's official. There are now too many to keep track of.

I almost think we need a messboard called "Micropayments" and each contender gets its own forum or something... This is a gigantic topic with important implications.

I'll promote the Hell out of the first one I think has it all, but I don't know if I have the time or resources to make that choice at this point.

My wish list at this point:

1. Price floor down to a nickel, preferably a penny.
2. Little or no set-up fee for vendors.
3. Low account starting amount for users (Javien's One PayPal dollar a good model)
4. 15% transaction fee or less for vendor.
5. Simple, intuitive interface.
6. Platform support: Windows, Mac, Linux at least.
7. NOT tied into users bank account, preferably not even credit card.
8. Anonymous for users except as strictly necessary.
9. Sub-two minute sign-up for user.
10. Sub-ten minute sign-up for vendor.
11. Currency not nationality-dependent.
12. Amount-sensitive levels of warning and/or security.

Does *anyone* fulfill all or even most of these yet and what are their chances for success.

And are there other requirements I'm leaving out?
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David Gaddis
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been curious about the "pay per view" issue. Has this been addressed anywhere someone could point me to?

I bring this up because one of the qualities I value in comics is that they favor rereading, & I feel that once anybody's paid even a very small price for them they should be able to look again at will. So does "pay-per-view" include the download option? Or is there some way to allow those who've paid once back in for free?

Apologies if this has been dealt with elsewhere... one thing I'd like to see is an F.A.Q. related to the whole micropayments question...
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On my donations "thank you" page I have a comic called "Why I'm not Neil Gaiman" and I actually encourage readers to download it, so yeah, I assume once you've paid, you should feel free to keep a comic. If there is a read-once price, it should be lower.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I almost think we need a messboard called "Micropayments" and each contender gets its own forum or something...

I could add another board here just for micropayment threads. I suppose that could help sort out the more art-oriented discussion from the commerce-oriented discussion.

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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What does everyone else think about that? Pro? Con?
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rcar
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A seprate board makes sense to me.
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2001 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think just having another forum would 'do it'.

Micropayments are a controversial topic, and I think chances are good that it simply becomes an eternal argument. And to change topic you'd have to leave the topic.

I think Scott's idea is on the mark though.

An entire message board on micropayments, with each company having their own forum, and preferrably representatives from each of the different outfits partaking in the forums, hawking their wares and listening to feedback from the public.

However, checking 50 different boards is near impossible, so the whole idea wouldn't work, unless there was someway of syndicating all the different companies forum's activity onto a small set of pages.

When setting up each forum, a questionaire, like Scott has alluded to many times could be filled out, and then used as bait to get the micropayment company the forum is about to come in and 'correct our misconceptions' and fill our the questionarie properly.

What I'm thinking of here is some kind of a micropayment flea-market.

This is totally buildable, syndicating all the forums into one spot and everything, and I can do it, but I'd be stetching myself way to thin trying to run it.

Anyone interested in doing it in co-operation with me (on threadmole's platform)? If not, I'll vote for simply having another message board for now (but I do think that at some stage, something like the described will be needed.)
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Tragic Lad
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2001 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be in favour of a seperate folder to just discuss the business end of things - be it micropayments or any other aspect of making a successful go of things (marketing, accounting, legal issues).

Sub-dividing the business from the art will keep the important topics on both sides of the coin at the top of the thread list. As well it will make things easier for those who don't necissarily care about the business side of things and just want to talk about the craft.

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John2two
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2001 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 2 cents: Sure, Greg, start another board for Micromadness. Then, if it all gets too involved to handle on one board, we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

If you do this, can you wield your magic admin wand to move all/most of the various threads about micros from this board over to the new one? Make it easier to find stuff in the older threads that have slipped down the list.

I'm never sure whether I'm conservative, a curmedgeon, or just plain lazy...

John

[ This Message was edited by: John2two on 2001-07-07 09:11 ]
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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2001 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Scott's new board idea too, with structural modifications or not.
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