Budgeting Micropayments – Is it Possible?


In the way society is changing, the rise of people opting for safe financial transactions over the Internet has led to many experiencing times of money tightness. The online community is emerging in a new culture of it’s own, and comes with it the increasing popularity of online shopping, music downloads and newspaper subscriptions. These have been called “Micropayments”.

“A micropayment is an e-commerce transaction involving a very small sum of money in exchange for something made available online, such as an application download, a service or Web-based content” (WhatIs.com, 2013).

People aren’t sticking to budgets any longer, tempted by purchases, which are available at their fingertips. The most prominent forms of Micropayments are Smartphone Apps, Newspaper Stories, Virtual Goods and upgrades, and a new idea that has just recently been heavily discussed: user generated content!

Online micro-payment transactions have allowed people to make quick, simple payments. Attempting to manage an individual’s budget in the new virtual world proves extremely hard, as not only do you have to budget the cash you have in your wallet, but also your direct debits to the micro-payments. PayPal writes that a micropayment is “any transaction less then $12.” So all those coffees, iPhone Apps and car-parking tickets are adding up.

Looking at the most prominent forms of micro-payments, I do believe it creates interesting ideas people may not think about. dreamstime_xs_11071862-334x272

iTunes is a big contributing organisation that stands by “micro-payments”. People can now purchase individual songs of an artist, rather than an entire album. But then, the same question is asked: ‘Why pay for music when you can download it illegally?’

That really cool iPhone App you play on the train in the morning on the way to work or university did originally only cost you 99 cents. ‘What a bargain,’ you think, but then there is the purchase of the extra lives or items you buy throughout game time. A once cheap way of entertainment may even add up to the cost of a movie ticket for one single app.

A new IDC Research report, conducted online with data from 7,446 Android and iPhone users aged 18 to 44 during a week in March, reveals some eye-opening mobile social media Intel. It found that 49% of the entire U.S. population uses a Smartphone. By 2017, the percentage of Smartphone users is expected to reach 68%. Four out of five Smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up, with 80% stating it’s the first thing they do in the morning.

Although these are American statistics, the economic and social climates in both the U.S and Australia are similar. I also am one of the 50% of people owning a Smartphone and I do check my phone within the first 15 minutes of waking up.

With our phones so connected to us, what is stopping us from purchasing app after app?

I have to say, though, I’m not one to purchase any apps ever; I’m one of the people who use the “free version”. A lot of the time I get over an app within a few weeks and delete it off my phone, henceforth not seeing the need to download apps that cost anything. Additionally, my skills at playing apps seem to be limited and I very rarely complete all the levels in the free version, which then lead to me purchasing the full version.

But now in games and apps, virtual spheres that players emerge themselves into, there are options to complete transactions for virtual property. Rather than buying clothes or household objects for ourselves, audiences are purchasing the items for their virtual character or identity. But of course it’s a bargain – a virtual chair might only cost $10.00, whereas a real chair might cost a few hundred. You can argue you’re saving money there, but one small factor – you can’t actually sit on it!

This means there is only one way to save money: be shocking at playing the games – that way you will be bored of the app before you feel the need to purchase and download the full version!

Nielsen reports the average number of apps per device has also increased significantly over the past year. The company notes: “This time last year, 38% of U.S mobile subscribers had a Smartphone, whereas that figure sits at 50% today.” Nielsen adds that: “Android and iOS users accounted for 88% of people who downloaded an app in the past 30 days.”

Are we Apps hungry?

Interestingly, however, in the past twelve months the average number of apps per Smartphone has risen from 32 to 41, representing a 28% rise. Considering that the average gaming application costs anywhere from $1.00 – $5.00, there is about $102.50 worth of apps on anyone’s phone, not including music purchases or the cost of the phone itself.

Are people spending more time playing on the apps they purchase rather than with other people? iPhone-Apps

Is the “Pass and Go” card system the weak point for people?

I marveled at the idea of being able to apply for a Debit MasterCard; that I could just hold my card against a little system, which automatically debits a purchase, which is under $100. The Debit MasterCard also allows students to have VISA and MasterCard abilities while accessing their own money. Is it this card that is the main contributing factor for allowing people to make micro-payment transactions?

Will the future of the concept of micro-payments affect what people do for a living or the social media phenomenon?


Flattr is now allowing people to donate money for content that they find on the World Wide Web, using the already popular “favourite” or “like” buttons that appear on numerous social networking sites.

Imagine if a status or tweet you ‘liked’ or ‘favourited’ could earn the author/owner monetary income. Would this then start a new branch of employment opportunities? Would the numbers of professional bloggers increase in the hopes of securing income from their thoughts and ideas?

Sitting behind a computer and unleashing your thoughts on the world would be in your job description.

Would individual’s Resume employment history then look like this?


March 2012 – Current: Professional Blogger/Tweeter/Writer/Contributor/Facebooker

  • Published articles on issues that I deem and believe to be important
  • Published mixture of political, cultural and lifestyle pieces of my own opinion
  • Participated in the online management of individual published content
  • Online contribution to social media
  • Continual updates of Twitter and Facebook social networks
  • Acceptance of friend requests and followers
  • Maintenance of an ongoing and well-known social media Internet presence

Every time your favourite author or organisation tweets a new post, creates a status update or a new blog post, a small donation will go to them, when you select them as a “favourite star”. In order to do so, you have to create an account with a set amount of money per month that gets split-up based on the number of times you “like” or “star” something across many social networks, including Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Github, Flickr, Vimeo, 500px, and App.net.

In a statement released by Instagram in January 2013, it was stated that: “At last count, more than 90 million people use Instagram on a monthly basis. Moreover, the company is seeing growth rather than decline; that number is up ten percent, month on month, in the period from December to January.”

Facebook has released figures, which indicate the activity of the social networking site; Facebook reached 1 billion monthly active users in September 2012. It is stated that last year it logged: “1.13 trillion “likes,” 219 billion photos uploaded, and had 604 million mobile users.” Now that is a lot of activity on that one network alone. Imagine if each of those 1 trillion likes earned 50 cents – that would create online monthly revenue of $500000000000 just from Facebook. If each of the major social networking sites produced monthly revenue like that, one word: WOW!

It might actually be possible for people to subsidize their additional income by venturing on this online employment path. Many of the bloggers and users of social networking sites are struggling students; if you tell them that they can be earning money from what they are already doing, not many of them would say no.

Would there be different account options as to how much content users saw every day?

With the increasing popularity of social networking sites and the online prospect of micro-payments, would they still remain as popular?

If such a scheme was implemented, does that mean you would have to pay to see any actual content on the sites?

I know that if Facebook, Twitter and Instagram began costing me money I wouldn’t be one to pay for its use. Although in saying that, we are a generation that is so linked to what other people are doing and the mobile technology devices we own, I’m not sure I could resist.

Will this concept affect newspaper subscriptions?

Will we become an un-educated, misinformed nation because of it?

People with the click of a button can be connected to the newspaper website and can read breaking headlines and updates more efficiently than going out and purchasing a paper in the morning. It costs money to purchase a tabloid, but what will happen if websites require a subscription service? Isn’t it the same thing as buying a paper in the morning?

Will it encourage people to create software to illegally be able to download the daily tabloid for free? Imagine, Pirate Bay is no longer used just for music and movie torrent illegal downloads, but a PDF version of the local tabloid of the audience’s choice.

Will the new cool kids will know how to download the paper? Rather than comparing music on their iPhones, will it be The Age or The Herald Sun? thCA3YO87B

Should information be free, or should it be charged? At what rate?

These and many other questions are facing society today!

How do you manage to keep to a budget in the 21st Century, when now not only do you have to keep track of the money in your wallet, but direct debits and online “micro-payments”?

Only answer: live in isolation! Good luck with your battle against the ongoing “micropayments”, stay strong and ask yourself: “DO I REALLY NEED IT?”

4 thoughts on “Budgeting Micropayments – Is it Possible?

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