back to article Chrome engine devs experiment with automatic browser micropayments

The team behind Chromium – the open source engine of Google Chrome and other browsers – is working on a way to enable those surfing the web to pay for the stuff they read or watch without any interaction. Earlier this month, Alexander Surkov, a software engineer at open source consultancy Igalia, announced the Chromium team's …

  1. Dinanziame Silver badge

    Good luck

    You often see people complain about ads, and claim they'd gladly pay for an ad-free experience if they could. Time to put their money where their mouth is, right?

    Not holding my breath.

    1. Jusme

      Re: Good luck

      The thing is, you pay for an ad-free experience. then eventually they start showing ads to paying customers[1] too, just to keep the price down[2].

      I'm conflicted, as people need to earn a living, and content/hosting isn't free, but overall I think this is another "nope", as the money will likely go to the wrong people.

      [1] Well typically if you're seeing ads you're their product.

      [2] aka increase their profits

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Good luck

        "then eventually they start showing ads to paying customers[1] too, just to keep the price down"

        You'd think that as your customer base grows you could drop the price - in most markets higher volumes mean lower per-customer costs. What happens here is that they grow their customer base to a size where losing a few won't matter, then they sting them with the choice of ads or increased subs for ad-free.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good luck

          Amazon Prime anyone?

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Good luck

            Or Sirius digital FM radio

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Good luck

          > as your customer base grows you could drop the price

          Nah. As your customer base grows, your profits grow, that's all there is.

          I always go for the ad-free, paid option, which always will end up becoming a paid-with-ads one. Mobile apps are the worst offenders.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge

            Just accept donations as a voluntary adblocker sub

            Personally, I would happily pay the Reg whatever money they are losing out from me blocking their adverts. More if i'm feeling generous after reading a good BOFH (or even better, SFTW)

            But that would have to be voluntary, not a penalty for using an adblocker. If you start doing a youtube and start blocking adblockers, or if you put up a paywall, then i'm offski.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Just accept donations as a voluntary adblocker sub

              "Personally, I would happily pay the Reg whatever money they are losing out from me blocking their adverts."

              Back in the day, ElReg had an online store called "Cash & Carrion". I'm fairly certain that they have already made far more money from me buying T-shirts and mugs and other tat than they ever would have made from me seeing adverts.

              An attempt was made to reanimate it back in the summer of 2008, and again in late 2014, but it seems to have failed both times.

              Perhaps if enough people ask they will try again? Squeaky wheel & all that.


    2. DeathSquid

      Re: Good luck

      I don't want to pay for an ad free experience. I want to be paid for for my time watching ads. The best UX is being able to set your own rate. The advertiser pays and shows you the ad, or not.

      What stops people from setting their price to £1m?

      There is a price at which most people will elect to watch ads. Dynamic price discovery will find that point.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Good luck

        I don't want to pay for an ad free experience. I want to be paid for for my time watching ads.

        You need micropayments either way, so you should be applauding this as it creates foundation for what you're hoping to get. But don't get mad if they want to access your webcam for you to get paid - they have to have some way to be sure you are actually looking at the ads, not out mowing the lawn while you have your browser cycling through a bunch of pages via script.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Good luck

        Sure, you can try that, but nobody will do it. In return for watching ads, you get whatever site you chose to visit that has the ads. That's their theory, anyway, and it works for most people, so they'll keep using it for you as well.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Good luck

      I would pay an equivalent amount to what advertisers pay if it was effortless. We are surely talking pennies.

      But then for instance to go ad-free on YouTube costs more than a basic Netflix subscription, do they really make £12 a month from me in adverts?

      It's time to put our money where our mouth is when it's a tiny prototype.

      1. v13

        Re: Good luck

        Netflix 1080p costs £11. You need to pay £18 for 4K. Or pay Netflix £5 to get ads.

        YouTube's pricing is better than Netflix's and has actually useful content.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge

          Re: Good luck

          > YouTube's pricing is better than Netflix's and has actually useful content.

          YouTube is 1 part useful to 9 parts dross, bilge and bile. It's really not worth paying for IMO.

          Some of its videos are "useful" but i'd much rather read an instructional webpage than watch some knobhead witter on about how wonderful he is and trying to plug some shit product he's been paid to promote (in addition to the overt ads) instead of actually teaching me anything about the subject i'm interested in

          Then you have the bilge and bilge from the likes of GBN, TalkTV and even worse nutters

          And frankly, I refuse to use anybody's recommendation algorithm. They should be paying ME for that.

          1. Tron Silver badge

            Re: Good luck

            YouTube is full of good stuff, all for free, and the dross is easy to avoid.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Good luck

              I agree on the first, disagree on the second. I have a few places on YouTube which I enjoy, although not very frequently, but most other times I end up there or get links to it, I'm disappointed. Whenever I do a search for something and get YouTube links, I mentally sigh because I know the chances are high that this video will take five minutes, even at the fastest speed, for me to realize that they know nothing more than I did before I did the web search. I've been recommended videos when watching one that was interesting to me, but those recommendations have rarely if ever proven even slightly as interesting. So I agree that there's plenty to like, but I don't think it's that easy to avoid the rest.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good luck

            If 10% of the 270,000 hours worth of video uploaded per day were useful, as per your numbers, that would be 27,000 hours worth of useful content to watch per day.

            This is why I have to dispute your numbers. ;)

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge

              > This is why I have to dispute your numbers. ;)

              I owe you a pint for that!

              Yes, I was being generous :P

              "At least it's better than TikTok" only goes so far. It is doing its best to be more and more like TikTok.

      2. Tim 11

        Re: Good luck

        google makes about a quarter of a trillion dollars a year from adverts - $30 per man, woman, and child on this planet. I suspect they make most of their money out of "people like you" (i.e. educated westerners) so $10 per month doesn't seem like an unreasonable estimate

    4. Cheshire Cat
      Thumb Down

      Re: Good luck

      Paying for an ad-free experience is like handing over your lunch money for a bully-free school day

      1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Re: Good luck

        An attitude which shows you value no-one else's time and money.

        Presumably you would consider the idea of ... hmm ... say ... a band demanding that you pay them to go and watch a live show to be like a school bully as well ?

    5. Not Yb Bronze badge

      Re: Good luck

      Amazon just recently decided that "ad-free" would cost extra, for people who had already paid... so yeah, the arms race is definitely on.

      The forced micropayments will increase until morale improves.

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    "and no user interaction"

    And in true Dragon's Den style... I'm out.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      True... the ability to pay without any user interaction? May as well just open my pockets now...

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Shirley you meant bend over.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        So you'd like to manually pay a fee every time you load a web-page, like cookies but worse?

        This is like registering in a toll-system where you are automatically charged for each mile you travel. That's not a scary concept to most people.. and those systems do sometimes have mistakes.

        I suppose each site could have a button to enable payments (again a bit like cookies) and if you say no, you get ads.

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          No, I'd like to NOT pay a fee every time I load a page. If you can't support your site then don't publish it. If you want to make money off your site, paywall it.

          1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            Err, this is paywalling the site.

            The problem with paywalls as they are now if the process and cost. Lets say I'd like to support the papers who's sites I read - not an unreasonable thing to do in return for them paying professional reporters, editors, etc., etc. If I go to the Grauniad, I can pay them, but that's a not trivial amount (if I only look at a few pages) and I have to sign up and pay them manually. If I go to the Torygraph, I can pay them, but that's a not trivial amount (if I only look at a few pages) and I have to sign up and pay them manually. And for each other site I would have to sign and and pay them manually.

            With a system like this, I can pay as I read - but not have to put up with the ads. IF the price is right, then I'd do that. I'd win as I'd pay less for reading the pages I do read than I would have to pay to subscribe to all of them, the papers win as they'd get some payment from me. Chances are they'd do reasonably well as I'd probably read more of their pages, and I run an ad blocker now so they get the low end of naff-all from me.

            The missing link is the ability to simply and easily pay very small amounts. That's what this project is about. IF (and I agree that could be a big IF) sites actually played fair and offered the choice, then I suspect they might be pleasantly surprised. Of course, for some sites, there's no chance of a "paid for but not creepy" option working out - some businesses have proved by their actions that they can't be trusted not to take the money and still be creepy.

            But a big issue will be educating people away from "everything is free".

      3. DS999 Silver badge

        Why is this a problem?

        One would assume the browser would let you set a limit of how much you will pay over how much time, so they couldn't empty your bank account for viewing a site once. Maybe on first visit the site would tell you how it charges and you can approve or not, and if you choose "not" then you either you get the full ads experience or no access to the site. That approval would be saved in your browser so they couldn't change how they charged without presenting you new pricing for re-approval.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Assuming tech douche bros are doing anything for your benefit is the epitome of naivete.

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Watch Granny run up thousands on her card when she doesn't realise that every time she checks her favourite "online bingo" site it's taking 1p payments that she doesn't know what they are but once clicked "OK" just so she could play her game.

          "Without user interaction" is literally the dumbest thing ever, limits or not.

    2. matjaggard

      I'm not sure you've understood how this works!

      From the spec: "Web Monetization doesn’t allow a website to specify a payment amount or currency. It only allows the site to tell the browser it can accept payments.

      "With the help of a WM provider , your visitor decides whether to make a payment, how much and how often to pay, and in which currency."

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        I would assume they'd have to have a way for sites to set pricing eventually. Some content is more valuable than other, and relying on people being nice and tossing a few pennies to sites they like is not going to pay the hosting bill - let alone a living wage for people who try to make a living with the site (like those employed by El Reg)

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          The theory of micropayments is not a method of charging people for subscriptions, but quite literally "people being nice and tossing a few pennies to sites they like". That's why it doesn't work. Still, if that's what they're building, then it will be the not working version rather than the empty your wallet automatically version.

          1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            No, micropayments are simply payments on a micro scale. They can be used for "pay me what you think it's worth", or they can be used for "we want 1p to read this page". The latter is fine as long as they show you enough to figure out if the page is worth reading in full.

        2. Sora2566 Bronze badge

          From my understanding, the plan is more:

          "Ah, this user is sending me money. Does that reach threshold A? Okay, I'll turn ads off now. Threshold B? Oooh, they get to see the special stuff."

          And then you tell the users what those thresholds are, a.k.a. the Humble Bundle way of doing things.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    The enshittification continues

    Micropayments: A wonderful new world for click fraud, phishing and other mischief.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: The enshittification continues

      Exactly what I came here to say.

      It's nothing more than another attractive nuisance for WWW publishers to maintain. Lovely.

    2. Rafael #872397

      Re: The enshittification continues

      "Our records show that you've accessed our site seventeen trillion times this month. That's why there are $1497,45 missing from your account".

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

      Re: The enshittification continues

      It's not even new. Micropayments or "microtransactions" are a known fraud technique that the US department of justice are trying to crack down on. The fraud relies on the simplicity and low value of the microtransactions to go unnoticed by the victim, but when scaled across a large number of valued customers, I mean unfortunate victims, it's profitable to do.

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: The enshittification continues

        That even predates the Internet by a lot - Google "round down fraud". I first learned about it 40 years ago.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The enshittification continues

      100% fact.

  4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Flip Side

    I assume they're also planning to expand the system so that websites automatically micro-pay me every time they use the data they've taken from me to serve the ads. I'll take a penny a bit - I'm not greedy.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Flip Side

      I do find it hilarious that there's a certain cookie-control window that many websites have and it forces you to go through the list of things in order to deny them.

      And on that particular dialog there is no "Reject All", you have to turn off all the individual categories one by one.

      And, more often than not, SEVERAL HUNDRED companies are listed individually as "Legitimate Interest" users of my data if I proceed (as well as another consent toggle, and the difference isn't explained).

      Whenever I see those style of cookie dialogs now, I just close the site immediately. I don't know what they think they're achieving or being compliant with (because they're not) but does nobody working there think "maybe we don't need to have several hundred companies with a legitimate interest in our user's data" or even "is this a legitimate interest to have that many companies using our user's data?" at any point?

      1. Fursty Ferret

        Re: Flip Side

        Every so often I turn off my ad-blocker in response to one of the guilting "Do you want us to starve?" pop-ups, but swiftly turn it back on when I realise what I'm getting. Smaller sites are suffering because of the decisions taken by big content providers (lookin' at you, Future) to bury the actual interesting stuff in a mixture of ads and sponsored advertorials.

        To be honest, having the option to make micropayments in order to browse ad-free is quite appealing, but only to the extent that I'd like to add exceptions to ensure the particularly shitty websites (see previous on Future, or Reach) stay clear of my wallet. And they would be the first to take advantage anyway, probably hiding a million pixel-sized individual ads.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Flip Side

          It's the newspaper websites which are the worst. Especially local newspaper websites - absolutely crammed with annoying, distracting, moving adverts which slow the page down to a crawl.

          Then they have increasingly pushy messages demanding that ad-blockers are turned off, some blocking access to anyone who doesn't do that. Fine - I won't bohter with that site then. It seems ot to have occurred to them that people are likely to put up with a smaller number of static ads on the page, but when it's loads of gaudy, moving adverts which make the browser grind to a halt, it's hardly surprising that they get blocked.

          1. Giles C Silver badge

            Re: Flip Side

            My local ‘news’ paper site has a subscription option pay £x per month and you will get 50% fewer adds.

            Not ad free but just half the number of adverts you saw before.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Flip Side

            For a while, my local paper's site had an Admiral-powered "no adblocker or buzz off" popup, with no "continue without supporting us" option. I wrote to them and pointed out that the adblocker I was using was specifically recommended by them, and included a link to their own article. Their response was to remove the article!

            They've improved some, though; I can read the news with an adblocker now. But there's not any obvious way of blocking the autoplaying "news brief" video in the middle of every page, "helpfully" moved to the lower right corner when you scroll past it.

          3. Not Yb Bronze badge

            Re: Flip Side

            Our local news frequently puts up their own web site as a teaser for people to go look at it on their browser. It has enough ads shown that I'd rather not!

      2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

        Re: Flip Side

        Your definition of legitimate interested won't be the same as the website owners. Their's will be based on a legitimate (ie a probably, barely or maybe legal) business arrangement to sell them your data.

        If you see a website that doesn't have a "click to reject" option as prominent and easy as the "accept all" option then they are in break of the GDPR rules (in Europe and UK). This is the point where you should report the website to the ICO (in the UK) or your local equivalent. But I'm not going to suggest you "do as I say not do as I do", because I rarely report infringements, it's easier just to click away (or continue and clear all cookies on exit).

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Flip Side

          "This is the point where you should report the website to the ICO (in the UK) or your local equivalent"

          Unfortunately, they'll do nothing about it, and in the UK it looks like the proposed new legisaltion will cease to take this seriously, even in principle.

          However there are third party tools (at least for Firefox) that can control cookies and other intrusive elements -- e.g. uMatrix.

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: Flip Side

            The ICO is absolutely useless. They go after individuals and small organisations for minor data breaches which occurred mainly due to not knowing the rules rather than any intent to ignore them, but they do absolutely nothing about many of the more blatant breaches. In particular, the widespread abuse of the 'legitimate interest' justification by marketers pretty much never gets tackled.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Flip Side

        I have multiple blockers on my browser these days and the list of 3rd party servers blocked can be dozens to multiple dozens, JUST FOR ONE WEBSITE.

        When I see that, I stop using those website unless I absolute have to, such as necessary bill paying for rent, electricity, etc.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Flip Side

      >I assume they're also planning to expand the system so that websites automatically micro-pay me every time they use the data they've taken from me to serve the ads.

      No. No hint whatsoever of them doing that. Not even slightly. Not ever in the time taken for a sparrow to wear down a mountain by rubbing its beak on it once per year (thank you D. Adams).

  5. jake Silver badge

    What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

    "Keep in mind that not long after Amazon went public in 1997, George Colony, founder and CEO of Forrester Research, referred to the online bookstore as as "Amazon dot toast." "

    To be perfectly fair, he was right. THAT particular Amazon has gone the way of the Dodo.

    When was the last time you thought "books!" when someone mentioned Amazon?

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

      It's the other way — If somebody says books, I think Amazon.. and if they say Amazon, I think a dozen things, and one of them is books.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

        I'm old. I think "Dillons". Then I remember that last time I looked it had become a Waterstones.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

          I'm also old, but as a Yank the word Books has always meant Barnes & Noble.

          I misread that as Wetherspoons and had to do a double-take ...

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

            Barnes & Noble and Waterstones are basically the same company.

            The corporate structure is somewhat complicated, but what isn't complicated is that both companies have the same CEO, James Daunt.

        2. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

          I usually think Waterstones and buy books in person in preference to going online as nothing beats a good bookshop for browsing. Unfortunately in Peterborough where I live we only have a single branch of Waterstones, whereas years ago we had them, Dillon’s, Hammicks, Sherratt and Hughes (not sure about the name) and a few more.

          Mostly gone due to the push of Amazon…

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

            > Mostly gone due to the push of Amazon…

            Mostly, but not completely. Barnes & Noble lost my business when they started pushing their membership program so heavily, you had to say "no" about 6 times per purchase. And this wasn't just my local store, as I had about 7-8 stores within a couple hundred miles that I visited.

            They've stopped that, but it's too late for me.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

              "They've stopped that, but it's too late for me."

              Holding grudges doesn't work in animal training.

      2. Crypto Monad Silver badge

        Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

        When someone says "Amazon", I think "online marketplace, like e-bay but worse".

        Experience has told me: unless it says "sold by Amazon" as well as "dispatches from Amazon", not to buy. It's full of fakes.

        Sadly though, there is no filter for "Sold by Amazon". There are filters for "Free UK Delivery" and "Get it tomorrow", but these apply to things not sold by Amazon as well. So you just have to be very careful when clicking.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

          Not just fake products, but fake listings and fake companies. I've seen listings where the reviews are very obviously for some other product entirely; they altered the description and photos to sell their junk based on the 4+star reviews of someone else's decent item. I've also bought an item, and had the selling company disappear rather than ship it. (Amazon did give a refund for that.) And for one item, seller gave me a tracking number that said the shipper hadn't received it, stayed that way for 2 weeks until I contacted the seller, who claimed that happened a lot and it was the shipper's fault - but the tracking number started working the next day...

          Oh, and when I looked for Apple laptop chargers, I discovered that Apple doesn't sell them on Amazon. But there sure are a huge number of "Apple" branded chargers being sold there!

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: What's the first word you think of when someone says "Amazon"?

      Books are one of the main things I think of, not because Amazon's still mostly books, but that's one of the things I used it for. When I was a student and needed textbooks, I could buy them new from my university for way too much or buy used copies, and those copies were usually easiest to find on Amazon. A typical book shop wouldn't have them, other online sites would make it hard to determine whether I was getting the right thing and wouldn't necessarily have what I was looking for. Amazon was a reliable source. And when I was done with them and the new ones I had to purchase, I could sell them back on Amazon to next year's students. I'm not sure either works well anymore, but this was well after they expanded into a market with things other than books. Amazon still recommends textbooks to me on occasion, so you can see how much I used that.

  6. Ball boy Silver badge

    I see a serious issue with the idea

    Firstly, roll-out: it'd be a brave site that implements this wallet scheme when its competitors still rely on ad revenue: until they get to critical mass, income from their website will drop like a brick.

    Secondly - and more worryingly - what happens when (not if) a site gets hacked and the bad actors insert their own micro-payment code that scrapes a visitors wallet - or a coding error means I get double-charged by the host? For any repayment claim, the user would have to provide full details of when they visited the site in question. Chances are, for the fractional sums involved, no individual would bother going through the process. Net result: it becomes very profitable to slip rogue code into legit. sites.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

      I would imagine it would be the work of moments to demand that a site that wants to comply puts in a DNS entry which specifies the target wallet details. Thus unless someone can completely compromise that site's DNS details, the payments could only go to that site.

      I haven't read the protocol, but I bet there's nothing like that in there, or it's in there as HTML that you can modify, etc.

      It wouldn't be a bad idea to have, say, the equivalent of a Bitcoin address that you can publish in DNS and thus if someone visiting wants to pay you money, they can click a button and it would pay to the wallet specified in that site's DNS.

      But all it would mean is a thousand domain-squatters, Unicode domains, etc. trying to trick you into thinking that they are that same company - the same as any payment page.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

        Oh look, I was right:






        What a dumb protocol.

        1. DanielsLateToTheParty

          Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

          So from that example the way to get around a paywall is as simple as calling "sayThanks" method? It can't be that dumb. (checks specification) No there is more to it, the receiving function needs an object with an "amountSent" property, then it's all legit!

          1. unlocked

            Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

            There is also a `incomingPayment` property which acts as a receipt. Of course, an extension could spoof the response to fetching that, but an extension could also just modify the script in the first place. If your payment system relies on trusting the browser, people can bypass it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

      Superman III did this first.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

        And the concept was already centuries old by then as well.

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

      "Secondly - and more worryingly - what happens when (not if) a site gets hacked"

      You set the payment level. You chose how much to interact with the site. The hackers can't control any of that: so if it's hacked, your payment doesn't change; it's the site owner who loses their money. This might incentivise them to focus on security.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

        But we'll end up with the hundreds of auto reloads of the page, pop-unders and pop-ups (from the days when dodgy websites did that) which auto close to not hassle the user ... Each one makes a small amount but a hundred from each visitor soon makes money. And what happens if the page references material on another page - does the live link get charged too? So many holes, so much profit ...

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I see a serious issue with the idea

          The protocol isn't as simple as load page, send money automatically. There are manual controls on this and it's being run in the browser, meaning there will be even more settings. Most of it is probably manually pressing a button, so loading a hundred times will do nothing. The people writing this aren't complete idiots, so they'll also know to put some kind of cap on it to prevent the headlines of a massive macropayment. That won't prevent there being other problems with it, but it won't be something that basic.

  7. Awk_ward


    Attaching any form of payment cards or extra PID with google is just not going to happen.

    Giving google and companys a hand straight into my wallet to take whenever they want is just a no no.

    What's to stop nefarious actors? 'Accidental' double charge?

    Google won't care too much because they'll get their share no matter if its legitimate or not.

    I don't trust google to take care of it when they can't even maintain a safe app store or an email account.

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    sadly typical

    There are many barriers to micropayments, such as security, scalability, reliability, and transaction costs

    "I've had this great idea. Let's build it first, we can add the security later "

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: sadly typical

      They will build it with Rust, obviously. That'll automatically make it safe and secure.

      Don't laugh too hard. I've already heard this from Fortune 500 C*s ...

  9. Tubz Silver badge

    Just say no, it will be abused and open to criminals. Will Chrome hold themselves responsible if their code gets hijacked and starts handing out millions of micro payments. The hackers of the world must be having micro-orgasms at the thought of this revenue stream. This is another reason why my browser has no credit card details permanently stored.

    1. FuzzyTheBear

      Ah come on ..

      Really dude .. it's Google .. what could possibly go wrong ?

  10. bronskimac

    For the entire internet, nah. But to replace subscription models, yeh.

    I can imagine many abuse scenarios for an internet wide scheme. However, as a replacement/alternative to subscriptions, it is something I've long believed would be desirable. There are some paywalled news sites where I have wanted to read the odd article but am unwilling/unable to justify a subscription, micropayments per article would be great.

  11. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    1. I will block all ads

    2. I will not give you micropayments

    3. I will not pay for a premium subscription either

    I might donate you some crypto if I really like your website.

    For-profit websites were a mistake, leading to clickbait and SEO spam. Bring me back to the 90s when people made websites because they had something to say.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      You might want to reconsider this site then. This is for profit, after all. Not all sites intended to make money are the same. I block ads as well, but I don't object to sites that exist to make money for their writers, including ones that require payment to use them. I only pay if I know I value the site that much, but it's a perfectly normal way to run a business.

    2. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

      Let me translate :

      I won't pay

      I won't pay

      I won't pay

      So basically, I want everything for free and I don't care if you need to put food on the table, or a roof over your head, or ...

      Tell me, would you apply for a job where the employer stated up front "we won't pay you, but if we really really like your work, we might toss you a few crumbs" ?

  12. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Show me the micro money

    It will cost you $0.001 to view the page. (This page automaticaly refreshes every 0.001 seconds)

  13. Rosie Davies

    It Could Work

    So long as I remain in control of who gets paid, and how much. Given that, things I'd want to see are:

    1. An opt-in - similar to the exceptions in NoScript. If you're name isn't on the list you can't have any money.

    2. Graded levels of permission. If you're asking 0.01p go ahead and take the money, if you're asking for 1p then I need to confirm I'm OK with that, it you're asking for £1 you're almost definitely not worth it and can sod off.

    3. I get to set the levels in 2.

    4. Proper, audited, maintained security controls with someone in the firing line should they fail attached to the payment mechanism.

    That said, if Google/Amazon/Microsoft/$insert_web_megacompany_here are getting anything from it the answer is no.


    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: It Could Work

      Sounds fair... if the websites also get to block you when you don't pay

    2. Fred Daggy Silver badge

      Re: It Could Work

      Unintended consequences. Thanks to the "Know Your Customer laws", who gave you that money .... ?

      Each browser would have to be registered in the name of a particular user. There goes anonymity on the web (as much as it exists any longer). For me, I guard it, but I know that some orgs know who I am. I am living in only a mildly oppressive regime.

      Disaster in the case of a fully oppressive regime. Like anyone seeking contraceptive advice in the US.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: It Could Work

        Have my upvote. And your two down-votes should first against the wall.

  14. jmch Silver badge

    Micropayment middleman

    Let's think about this shall we??? Say I pay a millionth of a $ for every web page I visit, you think for example The Register would get a $ for every million register page views I see? Not likely, if it's something implemented in Chrome, Google or whatever other intermediaries are stringing this shit together are going to want a management fee. Next issue is the payment itself, because the only way I can currently issue any payment is through credit card, where the provider takes a cut that is already too high to make even small payments of $0.1 - $1 practical, let alone a thousandths or millionths of $ micropayment ( I guess the thousandths of $ would be a millipayment???). Again, the payment provider will want their cut.

    Then another issue is that a per-page payment will encourage sites to put on multiple pages the content that could comfortably be contained on 1 page (this is already happening for ad-farmy click-baity sites).

    I don't in principle, have anything against paying for content, there are many sites where I already do. But a 3rd-party payment model like Patreon or a platform-integrated one like substack already do this. Otherwise, sites that want to finance themselves based on count-of-eyeball-impressions ads can and should tell Google to eff off and switch back to context-based rather than user-based ads. Already proven to be both cheaper and more effective (somewhere in Holland I believe, not sure if it's taken off from there)

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Micropayment middleman

      Being the middleman for such a payment system could be very profitable. And I think Google want to be that middleman.

      As you've pointed out, the transaction size is troublesome. No credit card company is going to entertain such small payments. So, the way it would have to work is some middleman - Google - would have to make a transaction against your registered means of payment, hold those funds, and then meter payment out to websites. And in fact, they can be in charge of when the money is delivered to the websites. They would probably stack it up into monthly batches. That way they would be holding billions x not-very-much-money, which is still $billions, and would be earning interest on it. The way in which the microtransactions themselves is not a an energy cost burden on them is through control over the client (Chrome) which is running on the persons premises using their electricity, and the website which is running on the owner's electricity bill.

      Been There, Seen That

      It's exactly the game that UK banks used to play; you'd intiate a transaction to some other account (say, in another bank). It'd take 3 days for the money to show up, even though it'd been deducted from source immediately. They make 3 days' interest on the transaction. That got banned in the modern age where the full transaction could readily be instantaneous, and now we all enjoy money arriving immediately.

      Google are simply trying to re-invent that, in another area of business, under the guise of "benefitting others".

  15. picturethis

    Actually not "micro"-payments..

    0.001 = "milli" payments

    0.000001 = "micro" payments

    0.000000001 = "nano" payments (we have a winner)

    (And I refuse to use chrome - or any of its derivatives)

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Actually not "micro"-payments..

      Too much!

      I say we'll have to go for "atto" payments (0.000000000000000001).

      With 106 clicks per second every day of every year of my life (rounded to nearest power of ten(*)) will be (rounded) three (3) cents. Now, that is an amount of effort that I can accept.

      Please send me a click-bill when I'm dead.

      (*) I never ever hope to reach that age.

  16. vekkq


    We had that with Flattr. It died last year.

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Flattr

      Flattry got them nowhere?

  17. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Patreon does it much better.

    So the traditional way for webcomic artists and other folks to stay afloat is to sell t-shirts with funny sayings on them and maybe pins or plushies or something else trivial.

    As you can understand, this does not scale well.

    Patreon has streamlined it all. I pay about $38 a month that's spread over about 15 webcomic and YouTube creators that I'm helping support.

    You have tiers that give you extra benefits for more money, like access to a forum, or live drawing streams, or Q&A sessions, or whatever floats the boat.

    It's done in a far more secure manner than this hack.

  18. Tron Silver badge

    I don't mind El Reg having ads.

    Just make them the same size, so when they change, the text on my screen doesn't bounce up and down.

  19. Tron Silver badge

    We already micropay to surf.

    It's called an electricity bill.

    Before anyone invests in this, consider that nation states are planning digital wallets, and may criminalise private/foreign ones in their quest to control everything within their borders.

    1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Do people *still* think that's a valid argument?

      By that reasoning, you'd expect to get into the cinema for free because you already spent money on road tax and petrol for the car that took you there and back?

  20. Chris Gray 1

    Pay El Reg?

    Reading all this made me feel guilty. Decided its time for a payment to El Reg. How do I do that?

    I don't run an ad-blocker, I run NoScript. I'm fine with ads, unless they are ugly video ones, but I don't want to run scripts in my browser from all over the web.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh hell no

    Fuck everything about micropayments.

  22. prh99

    If adopted I suspect they will quickly cease being micropayments, like the rest of the enshitified internet they'll quickly want more and more.

    Also they're nuts if they think I am attaching any means of payment to my browser, that's just asking for problem.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prestel had a pay per page option. Back in the 1990s I went looking for an Internet equivalent, one suggestion was bitcoin. At the time they were a few cents each. Unfortunately I decided against buying ten dollars worth in order to experiment. I thought: what's the use of a pseudo currency nobody understands with a widely fluctuating value...

  24. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    poor google

    I always get a tummy rumble right before i giggle like the joker whenever pure evil tries to convince people it was some how not successful, and needed more money.

  25. Echo_Hotel

    Just... why? Like why even try this? At BEST it devolves into a massive IoT botnet of toothbrushes and lightbulbs laundering money from stolen credit cards, more likely it does that AND incentivizes a new golden age of pop-ups, pop-unders, and pages that load other pages in iframes. The naivety of developers astounds me some days.

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