BitWall Aims to Tear Down a Pricing Barrier in Micropayments

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BitWall, a Bitcoin content monetization startup, will launch this month to allow people to sell low-value digital content, putting one of the digital currency's favored use cases to the test.

"For years now, people have been calling for micropayments to be a catalyst for digital content monetization," says Alex Meliones, chief creative and marketing officer at BitWall. "We're trying to use micropayments through Bitcoin to allow publishers to monetize their digital content, either stuff that was free to begin with or behind a paywall."

She started BitWall with her brother, Nic Meliones, who was once part of the New Graduate Development Program at Visa. Although he resigned from the 18-month rotational program before completing it, he moved to different roles at Visa, including sales, global brand and marketing and analytics.

Micropayments have been a tricky idea online since consumers typically use cards to pay for digital content. Because transaction pricing makes it more expensive to accept multiple small payments than to accept a larger payment, companies either set up subscription services or aggregate smaller payments onto one receipt. For example, Apple aggregates sales when it sells 99-cent iTunes songs and other digital content.

Bitcoin has a flat transaction rate of 0.0005 bitcoins, which equates to about five cents in U.S. currency.  BitWall aims to drive costs even lower by aggregating bitcoin payments.

"While there are many payment processes that work very well, there are also pain points for people where a better payment technology can unlock a lot of value," says Alex.

Bitcoin enthusiasts have highlighted micropayments as one of Bitcoin's best bets for success. They also see potential for bitcoin use in remittance and charitable donation.

BitWall, which just finished up three months with the Boost VC, a business accelerator, plans to launch by the end of August to handle payments for ZeroBlock, a publication that covers Bitcoin-related topics. 

"Launching with them is a good idea because a majority of their consumers are interested in bitcoin and likely have bitcoin to spend," says Nic, BitWall's CEO. "Overall the Bitcoin crew just has a strong propensity to make micropayments or donations with bitcoin."

BitWall's clients will be able decide how to price their own content, or BitWall can make recommendations, Nic says.

BitWall still hasn't decided whether to take a percentage of the transaction or have a monthly subscription fee to use the service, says Alex. But the company is offering the first 1,000 transactions for free. 

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