Jan 11, 2011

Will new micropayment system Flattr work?

I love the idea of micropayments in the web. World has been going towards free, freemium and donate based models on good quality content on the web. There's lot of cartoonist, photographers, bloggers, guys making videos and music, etc who really would deserve a dime on their efforts. For that purpose there has been invented Flattr.

It works in a way that you give monthly fee to Flattr and then using Flattr button (similar to FB like) you donate piece of your monthly fee to anyone who has this button. Then Flattr gathers amounts together and pays to the content provider. Here's a video from them to explain it better.

Even though I would like to easily donate some small amounts to content I like, how Flattr operates raised couple of questions.

First, monthly payment. I would basically pay some amount in advance for the great content that I will see during this month. That's like monthly fee of internet. And what if in some months I only find 3 great contents I want to donate and next month I find 13. The guys in first month got much more from me than guys next month got. That feels strange to me.

Second thing is actually the money. Money changes everything. I believe lot of guys who are creating content for web are motivated due to their desire to create. When you start getting money out of it, it turns for more work like. People might lose their real drive to create and start thinking too much on the monetizing side of creation. With Flattr it has been done so visually, that you can actually see how many have shared their cake to you, it even makes it more to work like.

Third thing, related to previous one is, that when you add this Flattr button to your content, you are actually asking for money. Even though in the very beginning it might sound like an good idea to ask for some money from your doings, I think it will turn out other way around. If you've read Dan Pink's Drive, you know there's scientific prove on this one.

I think these are the challenges that this system will face: monthly fee, spreading your cake, money as motivation and that you must admit that you are actually selling your services.

Still I hope for the best for these guys. Whole system is really innovative and first of it's kind. Would be nice to see it succeed, but I see these couple of challenges in wider adoption than just with the early ones.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

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