Suppose you are a web publisher who wants to institute a pay wall. You could spend millions on developing one like The New York Times.
Or you could call Tiny Pass.
The latest project from Hudson Media Ventures is a micropayment platform that allows publishers to indicate the content they want to charge users for, how much they want to charge, and how long the access will last. It then delivers said content after users simply and quickly pay for the privilege.
For example, the Huffington Post could use Tiny Pass to make users pay $.05 to be able to read an article by Arianna Huffington for an hour or $.25 to read her entire archives for a week. Or it could charge $5 to gain access to the entire site for one month.
For publishers, Tiny Pass solves the problem of how to easily allow individuals to pay for content. The goal, according to co-founder Will Coghlan*, is to create a solution for publishers that is as simple as Adsense. Publishers specify the parameters of the payment options, and the API works as a server-to-server authentication, unlocking content when it has been properly paid for by a user.
Tiny Pass currently works on WordPress, Drupal, Java, and PHP, and will come to Ruby soon.
To show how Tiny Pass works for individual content consumers, Coghlan and fellow HMV co-founder Rob Millis created HuffPoPaid.com, a cheeky takeoff on the “Should contributors be paid?” controversy. The site pretends to give individual Tiny Pass users $.50, which they can allot to their favourite Huffington Post contributors.
The same Tiny Pass account works across all sites that employ the product, so an individual user can go from HuffPo to Business Insider to the Washington Post to a favourite blog and pay from their account. If they run out of money, they can easily to add more using PayPal, Amazon Payments, or Google Checkout.
HMV uses a revenue sharing model and takes between 10% and 20% of any money paid out to publishers. (The one exception is that they take $.01 of any $.02 payments.) Instead of getting a check every 90 days a la Adsense, the publisher can take money out of their account at any time.
Tiny Pass is not the perfect product for all publishers. It will be more effective if more publishers adopt the product. More critically, the jury is still out on whether people will give small sums of money for great content. But increasingly, it looks at though they are… as long as the way to pay is simple.
Tiny Pass nails that requirement. It will not be iTunes or adsense, but there is no reason it cannot succeed.
(On the Tiny Pass website, there is a demo that shows the product in action.)
* Full disclosure: Coghlan and I went to college together, and I consider him a friend.