Small change, big difference: publishing pioneer The Register launches cryptocurrency micropayments pilot

  • The Register becomes first major web publisher to embrace ads-free way to engage with readers via SatoshiPay
  • Micropayments pilot for popular Geek’s Guide to Britain travel-history section
  • Stellar.org to power first mainstream trial of blockchain micropayments in publishing

The Register, the UK’s largest technology news site, has announced it is piloting cryptocurrency micropayments with SatoshiPay, one of the world’s leading micropayment transaction processors, in the first mainstream use of blockchain technology of its kind.

The Register is introducing micropayments as a means for readers to own the brand-new, digital edition of Geek’s Guide to Britain – its popular travel-history series mapping the nation’s most significant places of technological, scientific and engineering wonders, which has featured in national press. Readers have the option to purchase and read Geek’s Guide to Britain ads-free, destination by destination, or as a complete series in an ebook spanning 26 remarkable locations.

The publishing industry has been testing micropayments for more than a decade, but with limited success. Constraints of the technology and the high costs associated with transactions have meant the benefits associated with micropayments could not be realistically unlocked. Innovations in blockchain payment processing and lower handling costs, however, are bringing down the hurdles and giving publishers such as The Register a mechanism for putting ads-free content in the hands of readers by providing an additional revenue stream for content creators.

Gavin Clarke, managing editor, The Register said: “The publishing industry is locked in a battle between readers who don’t want invasive ads and publishers who want to monetise their content.  Recent advances in blockchain and crypto currencies offer the chance to break that deadlock. The Geek’s Guide to Britain ebook micropayments pilot provides the opportunity to assess these developments, letting readers invest in the kind of quality writing they’ve come to expect from The Register while providing additional income for our business.”

The SatoshiPay system challenges the existing dynamics of small-value transactions. Traditionally, the transaction rates for credit cards has averaged between 1.3% and 1.5% of the transaction value, while PayPal has charged between 1.9% and 3.4% – in addition to a 20p charge per transaction. The SatoshiPay system, which is powered by the Stellar network, promises to make micropayments viable for publishers who can complete transactions at almost no cost – meaning micropayments as low as 10p, or even fractions of a penny.

Jed McCaleb, co-founder of the Stellar Development Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind the Stellar network, said: “This is an exciting moment for Stellar and the cryptocurrency community as a whole, as it represents one of the first mainstream uses of blockchain payments in reaching millions of consumers. We’re proud to be powering SatoshiPay, helping make micropayments faster and cheaper than ever and thereby bolstering the publishing industry in its quest to unlock additional revenue streams in the new digital age.”

The trial will see readers able to purchase SatoshiPay’s crypto credit – called Lumens – on The Register’s website, theregister.co.uk. Their balance will be displayed via a floating wallet, with readers able to spend the Lumens on other sites that integrate with SatoshiPay once more publishers are signed up.

Meinhard Benn, founder of SatoshiPay, said: “The way people consume media is changing and technology is playing a huge role in evolving publishers’ content payment methods and sources of income. We see blockchain technology and Stellar in particular as a significant enabler of this evolution. With micropayments, publishers can cater for their readers’ demand for reduced advertising, whilst charging a small fee for viewing content. This is SatoshiPay’s first entry into mainstream publishing in the UK and we are proud to have partnered with one of the most outspoken and celebrated technology publications in the world in a venture that could change the digital publishing landscape forever.”