Google plans micropayments service for newspapers

Google is planning to roll out a micropayments platform to help newspaper publishers charge for content.


The internet giant has sent a document to the Newspaper Association of Amercia (NAA) in response to a request for paid-content proposals. The document states the system would be available to third-party publishers.

“While currently in the early planning stages, micropayments will be a vehicle available to both Google and non-Google properties within the next year,” Google wrote. “The idea is to allow viable payments of a penny to several dollars by aggregating purchases across merchants and over time.”

In the document Google said it believed only certain types of news content would coax consumers into paying to access it.

“There will be some set of news content that is inappropriate for putting behind a pay wall. For example, basic reporting on the news of the moment that is covered by multiple sources,” it said. “Users are unlikely to pay for access to this type of content, given that it is highly likely to be available somewhere online for free. The type of content most suitable for a premium/pay subscription service will likely include deeply researched pieces.”

It follows interest in a paid-for model from a number of publishers including News Corporation, Future Publishing and Reuters.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO, has said the company intends to charge for access to online news content across its sites, including The Sun and Times Online.

A Google statement said the NAA requested ideas for how its members could generate revenues from digital content.

“It’s consistent with Google’s effort to help publishers reach bigger audiences, better engage their readers and make more money,” it said. “We have always said that publishers have full control over their content. If they decide to charge for it, we’ll work with them to ensure that their content can be easily discovered if they want it to be.”

The proposed service could rival online payment platform Journalism Online, which last month announced it had signed up more than 500 magazines and newspapers worldwide (nma 14 August 2009).

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