The new Bitcoin based payment protocol provides content providers with income, while streamlining the user experience. Simple integration provides cheaper, faster content.
An established way that webmasters have been directly earning income for their online content is by using paywalls, usually a pop-up check-out form that appears in front of content. Paywalls are a proven way for webmasters to generate income for high quality content.
Paywalls have been used extensively through the publishing world as trusted brands migrate to online outlets. Newspapers in particular have attempted to leverage their brand awareness, and retain an income. While their content is indexed in search engines, anyone arriving on their paywalled websites will find themselves unable to read more than a few paragraphs without making a payment.
The inconvenience of having to go to a shopping cart and pulling out a credit card to make a payment, before reading any content, greatly affects the website viewing experience. Not only is it hard to ask readers to pay money for reading an article in this day and age, but it is also a slow and tedious process. This barrier to the instant gratification of accessing immediate content, coupled with the relatively high price for anyone wanting to read just one article, typically results in very high numbers of visitors bouncing back off the website entirely.
Until recently webmasters using paywalls could not charge less than the credit card payment fees, they themselves incur, in order to breakeven. To cover the minimum credit card processing fee, charging amounts less than one dollar is typically not a viable option. Since there is a minimum fee that must be paid, visitors wanting to read one article on a paywalled website often find the price too high and not worth the money.
These two significant shortcomings of paywalls make it a rather ineffective way to generate income for most webmasters. Compared to the primary methods of generating income from a website, such as product sales, ads, and affiliate links, Paywalls trail far behind in popularity. The difficulty of getting to the content, and the high price per article, have seemingly relegated paywalls to the recycle bin of the internet.
If webmasters can make the experience of accessing their content easier and faster for visitors, they should be able to make a lot more money. This would seemingly require both charging less per view and reducing the steps needed to access content.
The payment protocol Zero Click aims to solve both of these shortfalls. Zero Click is a protocol that both readers and webmasters can integrate into their web browsing experience, in part by adding a plugin made for the Chrome web browsers.
This protocol features a bitcoin wallet, to be installed in the browser, where users can keep a small amount of bitcoin, for the use of making micropayments at any websites that also use the protocol.
Without any high credit card processing fees webmasters will be able to massively reduce the price per reading an article, therefore a small amount of bitcoin kept in this browser wallet will go a long way towards making micropayments for content online.
To implement the Zero Click protocol all a webmaster needs to do is include a few lines of code on their website. This HTTP 402 Payment Required code, which includes the bitcoin address and amount, goes in the header of the page where the content is located.
Whenever a user visits the page, where this code has been added, they will not even see the paywall. The user will not be stopped from accessing the content, as long as their browser’s wallet has enough funds to pay the request. Browsers with the Zero Click extension will skip the traditional checkout page entirely.
Since the Zero Click protocol runs in the background, making micropayments directly and instantly, content is automatically available to the visitors. While webmasters enjoy instant payments, visitors enjoy no content interruptions at a fraction of the price it would have been. It is a win-win situation.
Zero Click is new and rough around the edges. With Bitcoin integrated it works well, and the cost of reading an article is much cheaper than before.
“We used Bitcoin because it allows us to transfer money with no registration and no lengthy approval for the person receiving the money.”
— – Zero Click
Using bitcoin is fast and easy, and most importantly there is no fee for using bitcoin so webmasters are able to charge their valued customers just a fraction of what they used to have to charge per article. Since most people view micropayments as affordable, more people would pay to read an article. Webmasters therefore are likely to earn more from their content.
“We think that the user experience will be awesome for browsers that understand our protocol as users can totally skip the checkout page.”
— – Zero Click
Before Zero Click, a few bitcoin paywall services including BitMonet and Bitwall, have already made manual micropayments for content easy to implement. Zero Click, as the name implies, has taken this concept further and automated the process to the point where paywalls can be passed through with zero clicks. All payment requests and micropayments happen in the background without interrupting the user at all.
“Our chrome extension runs in the background, automatically pays for the page and requests for it again. Other users who do not support the protocol will still see the checkout page.”
— – Zero Click
Paywalls aren’t the only thing stopping readers from accessing content online. Internet “captchas” are the ever-present forms seen on websites across the web to deter spammers and web bots. According to the Zero Click team, bypassing captchas automatically would be an ideal use for Zero Click as well.
“In the future, website can also choose to accept small payments as an alternative to captcha and advertisements, making way for a much cleaner web!”
— – Zero Click
The lack of advertisements on Zero Click websites will allow a better experience for website visitors, since many website visitors also bounce for having to view too many ads. Both instant payments and happy, repeat customers are very profitable to webmasters. Given time, this protocol could even become a common replacement for website advertising.