Bitcoin Payments For News Websites Makes It Debut

News websites have sprung up across the internet and changed the world of news reporting over the past decade. The decline in print media as online news websites took over saw many of the big names in the industry looking at how they could cover their costs through the online route. Advertising revenue was the primary option but giving news for free was not something that the big players were accustomed to.

Paid subscriptions were necessary but many were wary as online readers may instead opt for other websites to get their daily news. It has been implemented by publications like The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) but not all newspapers could be confident of the paid subscription approach for their websites. Even big brands hesitated before opening up paid subscriptions for online content.

Bitcoin For Social Good

Naturally payment by cryptocurrency would creep into the mix and the Chicago Sun-Times became the first major publication to start accepting Bitcoin subscriptions, but not for itself. Instead users were asked to donate to the Taproot Foundation that sources and provides pro bono services in different fields.

The newspaper ran a trial for just 24 hours on 1 February 2013, using BitWall as its micro-payments processor. Readers found themselves separated from the website content by a paywall. Bitcoin payments in the form of donations for the Taproot Foundation were accepted. For those who did not want to part with any cash, they could instead tweet about the Foundation.

Testing The Waters

As noble as the cause may be, the publication was also testing the interest of its readers in going the paid subscription route. Publications are well aware that introducing paid subscriptions can sometimes be the end of their business as readers seek content elsewhere for free. Strong brands with niche markets are usually more confident of going this route for online content but general news websites are often skating on thin ice with paid subscriptions.

If the move is successful, it will also be a major coup for BitWall, the San Franscico based startup focusing on small payments in cryptocurrency. BitWall would have the data in hand to convince publications to turn to cryptocurrency for subscriptions. It is not an entirely new concept in the online news business but the Chicago Sun-Times is the first major publication to make it a reality.

Monetization Of News

Although the trial run was not a monetization of the site’s content in the true sense but rather a charitable campaign, it did give BitWall and the Chicago Sun-Tmes some useful data to reflect upon. Can BitWall make monetization of website content a reality for publishers? Will online readers pay in cryptocurrency for online news? The outcome is yet to be seen.

News websites generally charge low subscriptions in much the same way that a newspaper could cost a few cents to dollars. However, going the traditional online payment processing route would negate the concept of paid subscriptions. Be it Paypal or debit/credit card process, the transaction fees often sucks out what little meat there is on the bone for news websites.

This is overcome by cryptocurrency and can put most of the cash back in the coffers of the publication. There is obviously the additional benefit of the earnings growing overnight with the recent boom in Bitcoin price. Ultimately the low cost to no transaction fees coupled with the rising Bitcoin prices could see news websites charging less than originally anticipated for its online content.

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