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Democracy & Technology Blog Simpler online payment needed

“We’re looking, of course, at ways to extract payments from the consumers of our news — micro-payments, subscriptions, memberships, licensing, even voluntary donations,” Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, said last week.

Online newspaper publishers traditionally have wanted us to give them our credit card information so they can charge recurring subscription fees. Or they want us to give them our credit card information so they can charge us $3.75 or some such fee to view individual articles. They’re no different from every other online vendors, who don’t want to pay another middleman to help them handle transactions.
Do consumers object to paying for online content, as many fear, or perhaps do consumers just view giving out their credit card information all the time as both inconvenient and likely to increase their exposure to the risk of identity theft?
The New York Times cites a report by Piper Jaffray, a market research firm, saying it expects consumers to spend $13 billion on downloads to their cellphones in 2012, up from $2.8 billion this year.

The report called Apple’s popular iPhone application store “a tipping point in consumer consumption” over phones.
Apple’s payment model strongly resembles that of the phone industry. A consumer enters his credit card data once, and all subsequent downloads are automatically charged to that account.
By making the process convenient, Apple has been able to sell software applications that, accessed through a computer, would be free. LiveStrong’s calorie-counter app, for example, is free online but a version of it costs $2.99 in the iPhone App store. offers a similar shopping experience for all types of products. I find myself shopping online increasingly at iTunes or or not at all.
The article notes that there is research confirming that consumers are less likely to buy something depending on the number of steps they must take to pay.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.