Google to start offering micropayments powered by Google Wallet

October 2, 2012
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While micropayments and the internet have a long and not so happy history together, Google is set to launch a new service powered by Google Wallet that hopes to change that.

The project will allow publishers to sell articles to users for a small price, usually from $0.25 to $0.99. Unlike some previous micropayment systems, instead of paying to access the content for a set amount of time, users will own the content they pay for, and can access it at any time. It is likely that Google will take a percentage of the profits, but Google has remained tight-lipped on this topic so far.

Simplifying Micropayments

From the early days of the internet as we know it, companies have been trying to make micropayments work, but so far, none of them have come particularly close to succeeding. One part of the problem is that users are used to browsing web sites for free. Another part of the problem is that in the past, micropayments meant digging out your credit card and sometimes installing software, not to mention the uncertainty of whether or not the content would be worth what you paid.

Google’s new system hopes to simplify micropayments for users in a few ways. First, once your information is stored in Google Wallet, you won’t have to enter it again, keeping the system both easy to use and more secure. Second, publishers have the option of displaying long previews of the articles and then charging if users want to keep reading. This isn’t fool proof, but does make it more likely that users will get their money’s worth.

To further ensure that users are happy with the content they pay for, users will have 30 minutes from the time of purchasing an article to get a refund, similar to how app refunds in the Google Play Store work. While many articles can be read within 30 minutes, Google plans to have a system in place to keep users from abusing refunds.

What to Expect

The service is set to launch either today or sometime tomorrow. While Google is only inviting select companies to use the service at first, plans are in place to open it up to more publishers later on, including plugins for popular Content Management Systems.

Do you see yourself using Google Wallet to pay for web content like articles? Or are you just going to stick to sites that are free to read?

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