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In general, consumers are less willing to accept electronic payment over the Internet than
expected.There may be several reasons for this, including a lack of awareness and/or trust
into system security, and the fact, that there are several other payment systems as alternatives
in place.Yet, using electronic payment on the Internet also means a change in social
behaviour, a step that customers are not yet willing to take.
As micropayments on the Internet have not yet reached a critical mass, in the cultural
heritage sector subscription seems to be the only business model that works right now.
Instead of selling content piecemeal, those cultural services that sell access to digital culture
online do it on a subscription basis. However, as trusted micropayments systems will
become available in the near future, this may change.
"At the present moment the only way that charging can be done is on some sort of large
scale basis. Micropayments frankly do not work, there are a lot of companies who have
talked about it but their start-up costs have been such that either they have gone belly-up
or they have had to charge a 5 minimum charge for 75 pence in order to recover their
costs. And until such time as micropayments become feasible, really feasible and collectable,
even in fractions of a penny or whatever, then this revenue stream is not going to happen.
When it does, it is going to represent as significant a change in many ways as the advent
of the whole digitalisation venture, because it is going to put power and responsibility in the
hands of the real consumers. But the banks cannot get there, because they cannot get the
unit costs down and yet there is a group of people [the telecom companies] sitting out
there, who have the mechanism in place, who have the money in place, who have the
technology in place and are sitting watching.
And somebody, somewhere, is going to form a partnership or something with Vodafone
or Orange or whoever, who are designed to capture micropayments, because what else is a
one-minute phone call but another micropayment? And at that point all of a sudden there is
going to be a complete empowering." (Colin Moss, CCConsultants, UK, DigiCULT ERT,
Edinburgh, July 24, 2001)
Access management systems, rights management solution and payment systems are only a
few of the newly emerging systems that will be needed to build the kind of tailor-made,
customisable, highly interactive, cultural heritage resources of the future. However, the true
achievement does not necessarily lie in the ability to understand all those systems in their
technical detail, but to put them together and integrate them with existing collection
management systems.