Technology Review writes about the “web’s new currency”:
It sounds simple, but it wasnt possible a few months ago. Most Web merchants still cant support micropaymentstransactions of about a dollar or lessbecause the processing fees from banks and credit card companies erase any profit. But Peppercoin, the brainchild of Rivest and fellow MIT computer scientist Silvio Micali, is in the vanguard of a new crop of companiesincluding BitPass of Palo Alto, CA, and Paystone Technologies of Vancouver, British Columbiathat make cash-for-bits transactions superefficient. These companies founders are well aware of the string of defunct e-payment companies whose virtual currencies have gone the way of the Confederate dollar. But theyve got something new up their sleeves: easier-to-use technology that allows Web sites to accept tiny payments by effectively processing them in batches, thereby cutting down on bank fees.
So throw out your current conceptions of Web surfing. Rather than sifting through pop-up ads and subscription offers, imagine dropping a quarter on an independent film, video game, specialized database, or more powerful search engine. If programmers and Web artists could profitably charge a few cents at a time, their businesses could flourish. And with an easy way for users to buy a richer variety of content, experts say, the current deadlock over digital piracy could effectively dissolve, giving way to a multibillion-dollar business stream that rejuvenates the wider entertainment industry the same way video rentals did Hollywood in the 1980s. Down the road, cell phones, personal digital assistants, and smart cards equipped with micropayment technology could even supplement cash in the real world.