I just learned about a new service called Flattr. It is a micropayment system designed for bloggers, podcasters, and others involved in content creation. The idea is part “flatter” and part “Flate rate.”
Let's say I decide that I'm willing to spend $10 to help those who provide content for me. I then can go to all the sites that use flattr, and click their flatter button. If I click 10 flatr buttons each person would receive $1. If I clicked 20 websites, each person would receive .50
It's an interesting concept, but at this point besides being able to set a flat rate for donations, I'm not sure there is incentive for the average user to jump on board.
Who is Flattr?
They are co-founded by Peter Sunde who also co-founded thepriatebay.com The idea has been around for a while, but the service started in 2010.
What does it cost?
From their website, “When you add or withdraw money you only pay a fee to the payment provider you choose. This fee is displayed when you add or withdraw money (you can see it on your payment history as well). We take 10% of your incoming revenue as a fee to keep the Flattr systems afloat.” When you go to get paid you then transfer your balance from Flattr to paypal (where you will pay more fees). You can withdraw your money when you have €10 in your revenue (as of today about $12-$13).
When I signed up (free) and I added €8.02 (roughly $10), flattr took €.62 in fees (.78 cents). This means that if someone “flatters” me and Iget $10, I'm going to pay flattr $1 (leaving me $9) and then pay Paypal .56 leaving me $8.44. To this it appears that we are adding another middle man to the payment process. After all Paypal has a micropayment system (Google it).
In trading emails with their support I understand that the fees you pay are for your payment processor (paypal). They take the 10% on the money you receive.
What's the Advantage?
From what I can see Flattr is aggressively trying to integrate with other systems. They recently were integratedwith the dailymotion.com website, and you can now flatter people inside the instacast iPhone app (where you can set it up to flatter every podcast you listen to).
According to their website, “the only reasonable way to donate has been to use Paypal or other systems to send money to people. The threshold for this is quite high. People would just ignore the option to send donations if it wasn't for a really important cause. Sending just a small sum has always been a pain in the ass. Who would ever even login to a payment system just to donate €0.01? And €10 was just too high for just one blog entry we liked…
Flattr solves this issue. When you're registered to flattr, you pay a small monthly fee. You set the amount yourself. At the end of the month, that fee is divided between all the things you flattered. You're always logged in to the account. That means that giving someone some flattr-love is just a button away. And you should! Clicking one more button doesn't add to your fee, it just divides the fee between more people! Flattr tries to encourage people to share. Not only pieces of content, but also some money to support the people who created them. With love!”
The Flattr Experience
I went out looking to see who I could flattr. I found a musician with a great voice. When I went to flattr her, I needed to login to my flattr account. This makes sense as the click needs to be documented for my account. However, if I have to login to an account – why not login to my paypal account and just donate? It was easy once I logged in and it was one click (unlike paypal), but I'm not sure it was that much easier.
They do have a wordpress plugin that makes it super easy to add a flattr button to your posts and pages.
Personally I appreciate the effort to make it easier to send content makers funds, I'm not sure the paypal donation was broken. In a sense they created a cheese straightener, and I don't have an crooked cheese. I will be watching it and testing and reporting on the service. When I looked at their catalog there were plenty of people who were receiving clicks, and it seemed most of these producers were in Europe (again this is a european country). If they can make it easier, I'm all for it.