Since we launched our product in the summer, people often ask what prompted us to start MuCash. We believe that a micropayment platform like MuCash can make the web a more responsive, higher quality, and overall more rewarding experience. The ability to pay for what you want opens up all sorts of possibilities for new, ingenious ways to deliver content and other experiences which just wouldn’t be feasible otherwise.
Sometimes “free” isn’t better. Nothing in this world is ever truly free—someone is always paying for whatever it is that you are getting, and they normally have a reason why they are paying for it. As much as writers prefer to maintain the integrity of their work, when it is advertisers who pay the bills, the authors are ultimately beholden to them and their goals are often prioritized ahead of those of the readers and users of a site.
A stark example of this is the fact that although modern web design emphasizes clean and uncluttered interfaces, and minimizing the number of clicks, the very first thing you’ll often see when you visit a typical large media site is full page ad you need to click to dismiss. Then articles are often broken down into several pages to artificially increase the number of page views, and thus the number of ads you’ll see. Moreover, advertising is ultimately a numbers game, which means that content that is produced tends to be designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience, and more in-depth and specialized content that appeals to smaller audiences (however passionate) or not linked to “purchasing intent” may never get created.
One step in the right direction is, websites that charge their readers a monthly subscription to access their site, because it does align the interests of the publisher with those of the reader. Subscriptions work well for very large sites with a strong brand, and for software and services users use on an ongoing basis. However, this is often at odds with the modern web where people increasingly discover new content from links shared by their friends on social networking sites, and from content aggregators. A la carte purchases make a lot more in these situations where a reader would be unwilling to commit to a subscription to a site they just stumbled upon, but may purchase an individual item they find interesting—if the price is right.
A major impediment to making small transactions with traditional payment methods is that the user experience they provide is poorly suited to small impulse purchases. Making a purchase usually requires you to fill in your credit card form and personal information, and go through an onerous multi-step process that often redirects you to a third-party site. These processes make sense if you are buying a $500 computer on Ebay, but not if you’re build an article for $0.10 that you’re going to spend a couple of minutes reading. That calls for a far more streamlined process. At MuCash, we believe that our payment platform should not interfere with a user’s experience on a site, and blend in with their usual workflow. This has been and will continue to be a major focus as we build our product.
Ultimately, we believe that a simple and easy-to-use micropayment system will bring a more valuable and enjoyable experience to the web, while letting sites generate the revenue needed to continue to create the content and applications that we all enjoy.