The Microcosm of Micropayments

We are nothing if not an instant gratification culture. And in this age of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, video streaming has become a veritable cultural phenomenon. The ability to marathon a TV show or watch any number of movies for a fixed and affordable rate every month certainly has a strong appeal to consumers. As well as it should.

 However, there is another avenue one might explore for diversion and escapism. It’s not a novel idea. In fact, it’s been kicked around for quite some time, but only recently has it really begun to take shape in the public eye. I am, of course, referring to micropayments, which could theoretically change the whole ballgame.

Writers, artists, musicians, directors, journalists, and mobile game developers would stand to gain the most from micropayments, aside from the consumer himself. If enough users started paying in small increments for creative content on a regular basis, advertising would virtually be eliminated as a source of revenue, not to mention as a source of aggravation.

The ripple effect of micropayments could even alter the unyielding nature of the entertainment industry. All of those struggling artists who toil away fruitlessly in their labors of love may soon find themselves in a reversal of roles and fortunes. The micropayment system is a method of crowdsourcing that would empower both consumer and artist and give a much-needed voice to worthy projects that may have been mothballed due to a severe lack of funding.

If you think micropayments aren’t already part of the mainstream, think again. The iTunes sensation has been very lucrative for Apple, and consumers have completely bought into it. But what if it were possible to pay even less for songs and apps? Enter Ethereum.

Vitalik Buterin, the wunderkind architect behind Ethereum, has had the inspired idea of introducing into the fold what he calls “probabilistic micropayments.” These probabilistic micropayments would allow consumers to pay the bare minimum for creative content without incurring the standard transaction fees. Buterin also proposes micropayment channels, whereby one party would be paying the other over time for metered services like file downloads and streams. These micropayments could also subsidize file storage and internet bandwidth, which would obviously come in handy if you have a poor connection. And we’ve all been there with the interminable buffering.

They say big things come in small packages, and micropayments are no exception. There’s no question that small sums add up to big savings. With Ethereum prominently at the forefront of this bold and exciting enterprise, instant gratification has never been so gratifying.