Can Lightning Network Micropayments Paywalls Revolutionize the Online Content Market Sector?


The Lightning Network was invented as an off-chain solution to help Bitcoin network scale better. Bitcoin Blockchain is currently facing a ton of scalability issues and transaction processing problems since the basic protocol has not aged well as per the increased users on the mainnet.

The lightning network is still under development and there have been a lot of criticisms over its consensus and how technically flawed the network is, but the creators are still bullish claiming that once it is fully developed, it would be able to help the main Bitcoin Blockchain to scale in accordance with most of the other altcoins.

However, despite the debate over its centralization and technical nuisances, the lightning network can find other use cases. One such experiment with the lightning network is being done on the internet with macro payments for the content creators. Those who are involved in the project see a great future and believes if the biggest publishers can get on board then the experiment can lead to a larger Bitcoin adoption.

What Impact Can Lightning Network Have on the Publishing Markets

Today's Internet content is based on click-bait culture and sensationalism wins the race over true and fact backed writeups. The advertisement is the king and thus quality content lags behind. Even those who have maintained journalism ethics and refrained from click-bait culture uses a subscription process where one has to pay a minimum monthly fee to get access to the website's content. No one wants to subscribe to a publication for a month when they just wanted to read one of their articles.

The problem of today's generation is they want everything for free which has led to large scale plagiarism and copying of content. Thus, this opens up a great opportunity for the off-chain solution lightning network. Since Lightning network promises cheap and fast transactions, it can be used for pay per view kind of system where the user needs to pay a token amount for viewing the write-up. This can prove beneficial for both the content creators and consumers.

A crypto Millionaire's blog titled, “I sent letters to top newspapers asking for Lightning Network micropayments. Here are their responses so far.” As the title suggests, the author did send the request to the “Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, and many other”. The writeup argues that the current model of monthly subscription only brings a few consumers to the table as the majority of them are one time readers. The articles note that the author is not interested in paying a monthly subscription fee of $15 to $20, but more open to a few cents for a particular article.

The author proposed to the listed publications to incorporate Lightning network to their payment system and curate a working model where the readers need to pay per article rather than the complete month. The letter reads,

“Publications would get a lot more revenue, a lot of hype from the crypto and millennial communities and, most importantly, look cool and like keeping up with the times.”

The author believes these publications do not need to restructure their working model or scrap the monthly subscription plans completely, it can still keep the subscription for those who are willing to pay for it and they would get access to unlimited payment. However, there is a huge market for irregular readers who only want a one time read. The author believes these one time readers can create a huge impact on the gains.

The publication house can then use this extra stream of capital to spend on quality journalism rather than creating click-bait articles.

A few Publication House Responded

The letter sent by the author to some of the noted publication houses did get a response, where the Washington and Wall Street Journal stated that they have forwarded the idea to the concerned department, while the Financial Times gave a positive response stating,

“You have a good point in suggesting Lightning Network micro-payments in which customers can use if they want to read an interesting article on ft.com. We take on board your suggestion and hopefully one of the things that our marketing teams would consider.”

With No Significant Actions, Is this a Missed Opportunity

Its been well over 6-months that the idea was perpetuated to incorporate lightning payments in their work structure, however, there is no positive sign of anyone following or giving it serious thought. This could be a missed opportunity for both the publishers and the adoption of Lightning network beyond Bitcoin blockchain.

The lightning network is still under the development phase and in spite of the fact that it is not refined yet, the idea of pay per view on the content side of the internet could have been a great initiative and greater business model. Although there have been a surge of decentralized content sharing platforms recently, the main market is still the big whale both in terms of reader base and revenue generated.

If the idea would have seen even a few takers, it would have driven the progress and adoption of both Bitcoin and lightning network to new highs.

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