This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Microtransaction

From a commercial point of view, development of the Internet and the World Wide Web is being held back by poor security which makes it difficult to sell and buy things electronically (e-commerce in the jargon). Various techniques have been advanced to solve this problem, some depending on cryptography to foil crackers, others using a trusted third-party to process transactions and validate payments. In particular, businesses are looking for ways to charge for access to Web pages, which may for example hold stock market quotes or give access to interactive games. Charges for each page or item are likely to be minuscule, perhaps a few cents (pence), and the cost of processing such small sums, called microtransactions (or sometimes micropayments) is prohibitive at the moment. Various companies are working on systems which would aggregate payments and so reduce the number of transactions, or charge users through their telephone bills or issue scrip tokens redeemable by the merchant. One slightly cynical provider has commented that the true meaning of microtransaction is “any transaction whose value is currently too small to be worth bothering with” — about one US dollar (60 pence) at the moment.

Page created 12 Apr. 1997

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mic2.htm
Last modified: 12 April 1997.