I’m interested in Micro Payments as a way for individuals to get paid for their data. I’m reading ‘Who Owns the Future’ right now and it’s making me think that we need to start building defense mechanisms against large corporations that are benefiting from our data, if not on principle alone, then because we might lose the middle class to automation if we don’t. I know that this is not a novel idea. In fact, it is an idea that recirculates every few years, each time claiming that this is the year that we need it most. Although I’m not sure that this is the year or decade for micro-payments, I am saying that it’s a economic policy that is worth exploring while I am in graduate school.
We live in an age where personal data clearly has an economic value that can be bought, sold, and traded. We know that we are the product of google, not the customer. And we know that any company offering us a free service plus a long disclaimer, is selling our data to advertisers.
So, where should I focus my energy? Should I tell stories and make interactive explainer videos about this topic? Should I make tools that show people how often their data is being collected? Should I build an alternative, work for Ello? Should I conduct my own experiment where I put the micropayment concept to the test with a small user group? Should I reach out to Jaron Lanier or Ethan Zuckerman and just see what direction they suggest I take my career based on these interests?
A few companies that have been developing micro and nano payment services are:
Flattr – a microdonation system launched in August, 2010. Actual bank transactions and overhead costs are involved only on funds withdrawn from the recipient’s accounts.
ChangeTip – a micropayments platform launched in 2013. The company believes that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ do not suffice in showing true appreciation online, and thus call themselves the ‘love’ button for the Internet. The company builds micropayments on top of social networks, and operates over Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Slack and more. Transactions are bitcoin-based and cost the user nothing to process.
M-Coin – A service provided by TIMWE, M-Coin allows users to make micropayments on the Internet. The user’s phone bill is then charged by the mobile network operator.
PayPal MicroPayments is a micropayment system that charges payments to user’sPayPal account and allows transactions of less than US$12 to take place.
SatoshiPay is a micropayment processing and content payment platform based onbitcoin. The service allows websites to monetize content through single click or automatic payments and removes friction associated with existing paywall solutions by operating without signup or software download for the end user. Transaction amounts as little as US$0.01 or less, which the company calls “nanopayments”, are enabled by the use ofsmart contracts.