Controlling Digital Bits

July 6, 2003

in Digital Post

Are two links to new businesses (BitPass and Vanquish) early indicators that Internet economis are close to a tipping point?  They provide an interesting contrast both targeted at enabling and controlling digital access.  Will they be successful? If only the RIAA would think…. I might pay a cent a song to listen.  I might even sell back my attention to enable some ads, if the stream was customized. 

BitPass via Chirstopher Allen’s new blog. Life with Alacrity is trying to solve the micropayment problem.  What is BitPass?  It’s like a prepaid phone card for the web.  The real secret will be getting Earners to sign up and test the business model at different price points.  It may not be comics that makes this a great business.  I did like their interface, and no I can’t sign up yet for an earners account.

Then via Pay Up!Hoping to stop the evil epidemic of spam, Philip Raymond is putting a price on it. The 46-year-old software executive has a provisional patent on a service called Vanquish, which requires e-mail senders to post a cash bond of 5 cents into a bank account for every piece of e-mail they send. If a recipient judges the mail to be illegitimate, the sender loses the nickel, with four pennies going to the recipient’s Internet service provider and one penny going to Vanquish as a processing fee.

So if the receiver accepts the message the sender is then “okay” from then on.  However, the sender won’t post the bond… then the mail won’t go through.  Vanquish has been at this for sometime.  Their marketing and site navigation fails to communicate what Forbes does — so I’m still unsure if they have it cracked or when it might be available. 

So now….. As an Earner with BitPass “During the earner sign-up process, we provide you with gateway software (a single file in most cases) that you install on your web server. This software acts like a ticket checker at a movie theater, allowing only those with valid tickets to enter premium areas of your web site.”

Could Premium be my mail server?  After a spender clicks on a BitPass-enabled hyperlink and then authorizes payment, we issue a ticket to the spender’s browser, which then presents the ticket to the ticket checker on your server for validation and access.

My interest traces to a number of blogpostings I’ve made around Digital Post.  For my two cents, the Vanquish model if it works is only a stepping stone to something much more elegant.  It will never enable consumers to aggregate and trade their data.  However, both ISP’s and consumers have an interest in stopping spam.  For that alone it may just work if ISP’s start marketing it.  On the other hand BitPass clearly understands we do have something to sell.  Maybe Ryze will let me put a BitPass fee on a revised commercial profile and sell it to all those car direct marketers that have my name. 



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