Cash Rules Everything Around Me – a phrase coined by the infamous Wu-Tang Clan in 1993. Then, it might have been an adequate observation. Nowadays, society rather turns into a cashless one, in both virtual and real life. What has not changed is the mechanism behind the phrase, though: a demand to exchange values. Currencies Rule Everything Around Me – could update the claim to 2014.


The somewhat misleading term paywall has been established to describe a technical boundary between content and viewers. Paywalls exist in various degrees: hard paywalls, where a customer has to pay for everything he sees, metered models, where only a certain amount of content per month is free, freemium models, where only some content is free and last, but not least, social payment models, where customers can pay if they feel the need for it.


Then of course there are numerous ways of how payments can be handled. Whether micro- or macropayment, methods involve virtual alternatives for traditional payments, such as paypal, flattr or google wallet. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins or Amazon coins might be another way. The list of online payment services in Wikipedia includes 71 entries.


In contrast, there is free content. Yet, free content is not really free. First of all, websites are often crowded with ads. So the customer is confronted with possibly irritating messages encouraging him to buy something instead of the mere content he requests.

Second, of course a customer pays with his devotion of time and his awareness, too. Online, this is very valuable. Therefore, models of payment exploiting exactly this have been established. Paying with a tweet is one such example. If a friend vouches for content, maybe I should read it too. Thus, the outreach expands.


So, in some respect, customers always pay for what they see in one way or another. Just the currencies vary. As the word paywall is misleading, it should rather be replaced by a term that actually describes the underlying process: subscription. I agree to Karen Fratti, who sees the term paywall as a relic of the old-media new-media debate.


Solving the issues of payment is crucial. Without a doubt, a smooth transaction is a key to success. Online payment needs to increase in speed, efficiency and reliability to decrease related inconveniences and stress.


Published by Julian Rink

Images by Wikipedia

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