Micropayments vs. micro-earnings

Micropayments are coming like a rollercoaster: faster, slower, faster, slower, up, down up, and making more or less noise. But, eventually, micropayments will be in our everyday lives. App Store is one kind of micropayment site, but true micropayments are just few cents or maybe millicents. They are collected when accessing magazine and newspaper articles, playing games and donating to charity.

But it should be a two way street and the money should also move to the users’ virtual pockets. Micro-earnings are more interesting than payments!

First the worst case scenario: ”share this to all your  Facebook friends and earn money!!!” Yeah, earn about 0.01 cents. Some day marketing budgets may rely completely on share & earn. And if you share 10 times a day, you earn 30*10*0.01 = 3 whole cents! But that could get you 3 sheeps on FarmVille or permission to read few articles.

More useful scenario: Users can be used as moderators for user generated content: discussion boards, image sharing, campaigns. Or you can test your applications and give money to the successful bug hunters.

Users could also omplete small tasks to earn money to a charity. Small tasks could be done by anyone anywhere like with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or the superior MicroTask. But with a simple payment/earning API anyone could pay to anyone: people to people, people to services, services to people and services to services. Micro-earnings may become a significant way to make a living in some developing countries. There are already ”farms” in China where workers play computer games, like the World of Warcraft, to get virtual items (swords, potions, virtual gold) that they sell on eBay for real money.

I’m looking forward to the micromoney age! Before it is concrete reality, check out also Flattr and social micropayments. ”Give to the people who make the things you like. Get from people who like what you do.” As a blogger who gives out useful stuff for free, it would be nice to get even 1 cent from someone who saved hours of work by using my code.

(More about Flattr at TechDirt)