Opinion Bringing Crypto Micropayments to the Wider Audience

Bringing Crypto Micropayments to the Wider Audience

November 24, 2018

There are so many advantages of using cryptocurrencies, especially when listening to crypto evangelists, that it often feels like a complete mystery when does not everyone everywhere use them. From low transaction rates to anonymously (with most crypto, at least) these seem like the ideal way to completely replace any vestige of the traditional fiat currency system.

Yet, in spite of the blockchain evangelists’ long and thorough list of arguments why crypto beats fiat, the reality stubbornly remains in the corner of the older tech. The monetary system that dates back hundreds of years has constantly evolved, including now, in the digital age. However, it does not seem to move towards the point where it becomes obsolete nowhere near as fast as many cryptocurrencies believe would like it.

Often, the preachers of technology forget that most individuals simply go for the things that work for them, without any ideological basis except that dedicated to practicality. With that in mind, one of the key needs for greater bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption, in general, is the ability to show the users that the tech behind it works well or that it provides something new that also works well. A recent development related to micropayments is one such example and also a chance for the crypto development to show what it can achieve above and beyond any fiat currency in the world.

The Yalls Blog Example

Over a previous couple of years, there have been only a few projects that did as much as the Yalls blog to explore the possibilities of the crypto micropayments. Of course, there are much larger projects than this one-man venture, as the Brave browser, for example, but none of them seem to be as effective as this simple blog. The online destination is only a year old and it was created by Alex Bosworth, a developer from the Lightning Labs. From April and up to the start of November, Bosworth’s blog managed to witness a processing of almost 20,000 invoices using the Lightning Network.

This network is designed to produce a bitcoin scaling solution that allows for the micropayments transactions to be feasible and sustainable by moving them from the blockchain. This way, the Lightning Network effectively sidesteps any BTC network transaction fees and at the same time, allows the main blockchain to not be overwashed by transactions.

Thanks to it, Bosworth managed to set up a user-friendly set of prices for the blog’s visitor. Now, it costs about one US cent to read a Yalls piece, half that much for a comment on an article and about $0.1 for a reaction to a post using an emoji. Publishing an article, on the other hand, is completely free.

List of Yalls Advantages

Bosworth recently stated that the great thing about microtransactions is that they provide their users with anonymity. He explained that he is a fan of the concept that the user’s identity does not have to be connected to a username and a password. This is immediately seen in the Yalls system – users do not have to engage in any traditional subscription process to send money. In fact, users do not even have to have a Lightning network wallet. They can open them through the blog and so far, almost 120 users did the same already.

Many Lightning nodes connected to the Yalls are now facilitating payment channels. All of this allowed the blog’s contributors to post over 170 articles from July to the start of November. The readers paid with 194 comments and 675 emoji reactions to these. The writers managed to collect over 430 payments in that period and thus collected fees from the readers.

Every invoice is made out of pennies so the invoices are small. So small, in fact, that Bosworth earns about $5 per month for the routing fees. This might not offer a fully-viable publishing model, but it does highlight how the ability to engage leadership can provide to the overall infrastructure of the platform.

Developing the Business Model

The Yalls blog is nothing more than a hobby but there is a huge potential there. Bosworth has not promoted the blog or asked for a contribution, but the bitcoin fans are definitely engaged by the offer. Similar to esports, for example, the ecosystem around Yalls seems to be fueling its own growth. The owner explained that in the beginning, there was the need to keep the node for Lighting network functional and online.

But, over time, the feedback they got allowed the information to reach the Lighting Network Daemon or LND and now the node is stable, which means that Bosworth does not have to worry about that part of the process. But, Bosworth is first to acknowledge that this type of funding by the community is only starting its development, especially for the professional media publications and other similar outlets. For starts, the users of the same resources would need to know how they can operate a Lighting-friendly node or crypto wallet.

No one needs to underline that the global mainstream audience is not particularly crypto-literate. They are not the only ones who need to be familiar with crypto – the Lightning nodes would also require some time to be developed for any particular publication, so it is not a plug and play solution. On the Yalls blog, with transactions of a US cent, people tend to be forgiving when it comes to any technical difficulties. However, when the same sum goes to $20 each month, they will demand no problems whatsoever or they could turn their back on the service.

The Microtransactions of the New Age

Like the use of blockchain in general, microtransactions are an effective means of paying for content that is waiting to find the right application. The Yalls blog shows that it is possible to use the Lightning network for the same purpose so it shows that the practical case study already exists.

The issue of scaling up is something that will have to take place along with the broader process of people actually using the same network and understanding its functions. This, like the overall crypto adoption, will take time and effort, especially from the Lightning Labs and other developer communities.