Is There Any Hope For Micro Payments?

I’m beginning to think there is not


DALLE-2 image by author of a few coins in front of a street violinist

We dislike advertising, we dislike paying member dues, and we don’t want our demographic data to be used as the product. At one time, I thought micropayments might be a solution to those problems for content creators.

It seems simple enough. Why wouldn’t you pay a tiny amount of money to the creator of something that you enjoyed? Isn’t that better than paying a monthly fee for access to content? Apparently not.

Tessa Schlesinger (Tessa Schlesinger - published 60 years.) posted this at

A very famous musician earned only $32 playing beautiful music incognito for an hour in a Washington D.C. subway. That’s rather telling, I think.

Oh, you might say that those results might have changed had he been there every day, that more people would have noticed, spread the word, and that he’d soon be swamped with money.

I don’t think so.

It’s interesting that Tessa wrote about that at because that site is a micropayment system. People can tip with “points” they buy. takes a cut at the time of purchase; for example $10 in points costs $14.00. Points are redeemable with 100 points worth a dollar.

Many thousands of content creators are displaying their talent at Post. Writers, poets, artists, corporate news sites. People can tip those creators a penny, a nickel, or whatever they want.

Some corporate sites want up front payment.

But by and large, people do not tip and it seems most refuse to pay up front as well.

People can Like a post, can share it, can leave a complimentary comment. People can and do all those things and often do.

Yet those people, people who Liked, who shared, who left gushing comments, will usually not leave even a one cent tip. Not even one cent!

We dislike advertising, we dislike paying member dues, we don’t want to be used as the product, but we won’t even throw pocket change at things that amuse us, astound us, or teach us.

Here at Medium, we have dues for members who want to read our content. Content creators can pay dues, or choose not to. Payments are parceled out by a very imperfect system of measuring user engagement. As flawed as that system is, it seems to reward creators more than Post can.

I think Post is great, but I wonder how it can survive.



Anthony (Tony/Pcunix) Lawrence

Retired Unix Consultant. I write tech and humor mostly but sometimes other things. see my Lists if your interests are specific.