Micropayments, Political Giving, and Microsoft

I’ve long been a fan of the theory of net based “micropayments”….the idea that content providers (or political causes) could ask for much smaller fees or donations than credit card based fee systems currently could allow…often times as low as .99 cents and lower.

The space was littered with dead dotcom businesses that tried and failed to offer this service. There was an ongoing debate that these companies failed due to the idea of micropayments itself was flawed, or due to poor implementation…until iTunes proved the business model that .99 cent digital items sold in mass works, having made over 1 billion dollars selling over 1 billion songs.

As micropayments begin to slowly take hold beyond theory, I have a strong curiosity as to how micropayments can be relevant to political giving.

Well today Microsoft in Davos just announced they’d be launching a platform aimed squarely at the micropayment space… Here is an excerpt from the Dow Jones news story:

"Gates described a system that would undercut credit card fees, making it profitable for an online newspaper to charge small fees for individual articles, for example.

'If you want to charge somebody $0.10 or $1 a month, that will just be a click…you won’t have to manage some funny thing or pay some big credit charge, where half of it goes to the clearing,' Gates said."