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    Hm, this really seems a bit light on content, at least for people who have sunk some time into thinking about this, but then again it’s Wired…

    I take issue on the word “seamless” because I can’t imagine how much more seamless than PayPal it should be? I click on “buy”, enter email and password, click accept and it’s done. I don’t want one click, I’m terrified I could be spending even two digit sums just by fatfingering a mouse click.

    Also there was flattr, but I hardly used it because too few people had a button to support it on their website - but I’m not saying I have good ideas, and of course PayPal has a ton of issues - but to not call it seamless is pretty unfair in my book, because it’s basically doing exactly what I want (albeit not always how I want)…

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      That’s a seamless macrotransaction. The pipe dream of seamless microtransactions was a little different?

      IRL when you visit this page on Wired, some advertisers send you some malware, which warms up your CPU for a bit, costing you about 0.1 pennies (assumptions: 12p/kwh, 60W difference between hot and idle, makes the machine hot for 5 seconds) to run the malware so it can play a stupid animated shock-the-monkey banner. In return, those advertisers send Wired (say) 0.01 pennies (assumptions: number pulled completely out of my ass, I have no idea what realistic rates are for banner ads on websites but I believe they’re real low this decade. I think on the order of 10 pennies per banner ad click multiplied by something like 0.1% clickthrough rate is plausible. AFAIK 1% clickthrough rate is considered absurdly high, bordering on absolute proof of click fraud in and of itself.)

      In the hypothetical fantasy world of seamless microtransactions, you’d visit this page on Wired, nobody would send you any malware, you’d directly send Wired 0.05 pennies. You’re richer because you only spent 0.05 pennies instead of 0.1 pennies. Wired is richer because they got sent 0.05 pennies (minus some hopefully trivial fee-handling fee percentage) instead of 0.01 pennies. Everyone wins except the malware pushers, who will hopefully give up and switch to working in different industries where their efforts are slightly helpful to humanity instead of slightly harmful.

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        That’s a good point, but while I’m open to discussion, I refuse to see micro-transaction in this light only. I have used PayPal to pay sums < 0.5 EUR/USD, that’s pretty micro in my book. Apart from baked goods I don’t remember buying something so cheap in a shop for a while. (Only as part of groceries shopping, of course).

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          I support Advent of Code monetarily, and the creator states that if you send less than $1 you will not get an acknowledgement because the fees will eat up the contribution

          https://adventofcode.com/2018/support

          (Amounts under $1 barely reach me after fees and will not confer a badge. [..])

          So we realistically set $1 / €1 as a lower limit for Paypal payments.

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            Oh right, I forgot about this, thanks.

            I have to say I was mostly talking about business transactions, because that’s 99% of my transactions - and if a company offers PayPal it’s not my problem that they need to calculate their prices correctly. If I am a customer more often there, it’s fine if I need to transfer 5€/$ for store credit, like Steam does.

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        PayPal isn’t seamless if you’re trying to pay an organization PayPal has banned from their platform, perhaps because they are socially or politically controversial.

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          Surely there are competitors to Paypal?

          Locally in Sweden we have Klarna which is absolutely dominant in e-payments.

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            “In Sweden” isn’t very helpful on the internet.

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              It was just an example, of a market where Paypal isn’t that entrenched.

              If there is a market for an alternative to Paypal, it should appear.

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          The article mentions Apple Pay, which is even more seamless than email/password: just touch the fingerprint sensor on the power button to confirm a payment. Though you do have to be using Safari and a modern Macbook (2016+) for it to work.

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            Yea, that’s definitely not frictionless. Or let’s say I never had a single Apple product…

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            Paypal doesn’t work very well on the internet. I interact on the internet with a lot of people that are not in my direct economic region and international Paypal transfers are not very easy. I understand that it’s intentionally difficult to move money for “security” but sometimes, for small things, I really don’t want the inconvenience of security.

            I used to use bitcoins back when they still worked as currency, and it was great. Here’s my hash, here’s the money, bam, it’s yours instantly, and zero-confirmation transactions are good enough for small amounts of money . That’s what I wish we had again.

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              I understand that it’s intentionally difficult to move money for “security”

              It’s actually for “AML/KYC” (Anti-Money Laundering / Know Your Customer) reasons, i.e. the desire to combat money transfers for illicit means and tax avoidance.

              Any proposed micro-transaction scheme will also be affected by this, raising the overhead costs.

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                Well, I consider that security too, but if we’re going to be so sure that people can’t send a few fractions of a cent per pageview to a newspaper because that could be money laundering, we should also be very sure that advertising can’t pollute the internet because that’s dishonest psychological manipulation.

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                  First off, I agree that the current model of surveillance capitalism sucks. Any way to lessens its impact is good!

                  I’m arguing hypotheticals here, just like the article.

                  we should also be very sure that advertising can’t pollute the internet because that’s dishonest psychological manipulation.

                  Internet advertisers (presumably) pay taxes. Plenty of companies whose business arguably a net loss for society (tobacco) are perfectly legal.

                  I came up with a way to launder money via microtransactions when making coffee yesterday morning. I’m on mobile now but will see if I can write it up later.

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                    So, quick writeup. - ping @JordiGH.

                    Our microtransaction company MicroPay is a central payment processors. Users buy blocks of … “cybercents” via cash or top-up, and when they see something they want to read or buy online, they send a CC to the site’s owners. MicroPay keeps track of all this and pays out whenever the balance exceeds a certain amount.

                    MicroPay makes money through the float, by taking a modest fee, or (most likely) monetizing the traffic patterns it’s seeing - but let’s imagine they don’t, or are prohibited by law.

                    How to launder money - you simply set up a bunch of websites offering “content” for CC, ask a bunch of mules to buy CC blocks with cash sent to them or by having the CC sent to them in turn, then you turn around and cash out the now laundered CC’s into cash from your fake online content business.

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            I don’t want seamless micropayments like this (and I doubt most others do).

            I don’t want to go on to a website, where the boundary line of me spending money has moved to just browsing, from me actually authorizing a transaction. I don’t want a web where it’s easy to hide the fact that by visiting a website, I’m giving them money. Maybe it will be implemented in some way where 402’s are used… but it better be clear!

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              We had this with BTX in the 80s/early 90s :P https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bildschirmtext You navigated from page to page (which were free) and once you hit a paid site you just needed to click (or maybe press a button, it was DOS-based after all) Accept and the 5ct or something were added to your telephone bill.

              My memory is a bit hazy, I used this when I was like 12.

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                Wow. That system was ahead of its time! Thanks for sharing!

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              The only time I’ve received a 402 was from an API request to a Shopify store where the free trial had expired and payment was required, thought it was cool.

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                I think the future is going to be like China’s Alipay or Wechat pay, where you have logged into a payment app on your phone and scan a QR code on the webpage to pay, then enter a pin on your phone or webpage. These apps integrate with your credit/debit card or bank account and act as middlemen. This works well in China and makes buying stuff on taobao or takeout or monthly subscriptions very easy, or even scanning qr codes in real life for buying things at stores.

                My guess is that venmo will be the most successful in the US and have some features like this soon due to its popularity with people my age. It already cornered the person-person digital payments so its next obvious evolution is integrating with other apps or in real life. It’s an option on uber as of a month ago so it’s on its way there.

                At this point you have the kind of usability the article pontificates about.

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                  I’m still waiting for GNU Taler (previously discussed here)…

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                    Yeah, if it worked and it was trustworthy, that’d be great for everyone.

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                      It’s so frustrating because bitcoin could have been this, but the bugbear of centralisation meant that we couldn’t actually provide this service in a way that would be adopted by the early adopters of the currency

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                        Bitcoin also has major UI issues that would have prevented adoption.

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                          None of this is true. 🤦‍♂️

                          Bitcoin can provide this (if people want), and in some cases already does. It’s not Bitcoin’s fault Wired doesn’t use it. Mostly the issue is some developers talking smack about something they’re ignorant about, instead of doing something productive.

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                            Bitcoin is

                            • It’s own currency, like the Esperanto of money, native to nobody

                            • Built on PoW, which is both an environmental disaster and not even very effective at keeping the system from centralized control

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                              For your first point, that is exactly what is needed: a borderless, decentralized native currency for the web.

                              Re your second concern:

                              • It’s less of an “environmental disaster” than the payment systems you’re already using.
                              • It’s been proven quite effective at staying decentralized compared to basically every other thing out there.
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                                It’s less of an “environmental disaster” than the payment systems you’re already using.

                                The non-PoW payment systems use more power than Bitcoin currently uses. They are also handling far more payments. And on a payment / gigawatt basis, it’s trivially true that a database will use less electricity than the same database plus PoW.

                                Worse, though, because of the way PoW does things, adding more compute power towards Bitcoin doesn’t increase its throughput. Bitcoin’s throughput is a hard-coded constant (called the maximum block size). Adding more compute instead causes the difficulty curve to go up.

                                The block size could be raised, but since every node is supposed to get every transaction, raising the throughput constant will make it harder for smaller nodes to keep up with the firehose, further centralizing the network. Speaking of centralized networks.

                                It’s been proven quite effective at staying decentralized compared to basically every other thing out there.

                                First of all: https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/7pxpiz/coinbase_represents_58_of_all_onchain_bitcoin/

                                Second of all: I bring it up because being centralized defeats the purpose of Bitcoin, not because I think being centralized is a bad thing.

                                For your first point, that is exactly what is needed for the web.

                                And finally, the answer to the Esperanto thing is “no”. The web doesn’t need its own currency. It just needs automatic conversion between the different currencies, like PayPal already does.

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                                  The non-PoW payment systems use more power than Bitcoin currently uses. They are also handling far more payments. And on a payment / gigawatt basis, it’s trivially true that a database will use less electricity than the same database plus PoW.

                                  Worse, though, because of the way PoW does things, adding more compute power towards Bitcoin doesn’t increase its throughput. Bitcoin’s throughput is a hard-coded constant (called the maximum block size). Adding more compute instead causes the difficulty curve to go up.

                                  The block size could be raised

                                  First of all: [..] Second of all: [..]

                                  Esperanto thing

                                  OK, I am going to let your entire comment stand on its own. I see that you understand very little about Bitcoin, Proof-of-Work, how these systems work with other (new) systems, or why they are necessary, and I’m not going to explain any of it to you because:

                                  1. I’m tired of arguing with people who have an active interest in not listening and not understanding (i.e. willful ignorance). There is nothing I can say or do with such people.
                                  2. Those who read your comment and either already do understand these systems, or take the time to research them in an unbiased way, will come to the same conclusion.

                                  So, maybe if you decide you’re interested in understanding these systems, instead of steadfastly sharing your ignorance with me, I will engage with you. Otherwise, have a nice day!

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                                    A bigger issue, at least at current price levels, is that a BTC transaction (irrespective of size) costs around 13 cents at the moment.

                                    Average size of a BTC transaction: 250 bytes (https://tradeblock.com/blog/analysis-of-bitcoin-transaction-size-trends).

                                    Current average BTC fee (7d average): 14.55 satoshis/byte (https://fork.lol/tx/fee)

                                    Current BTC price: $3,573

                                    1 satoshi = 1/(100,000,000) BTC, so 250 * 14.55 * (1/100000000) * $3,573 = $0.13.

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                                      That’s cheaper than anything else you’ll find out there (with the exception of cryptocurrencies with similar properties). You can open an account for arbitrary amounts for a few cents? And fees on LN are basically free? Sign me up!