Skip to main content

Bitpass closing

Just got this in the inbox:

Dear Valued Bitpass Merchant,

We want to thank you for your past business, however due to circumstances beyond our control, we are discontinuing our operations.

We have partnered with Digital River to provide operational support during the period prior to shut down. As of today, January 19, 2007, all Bitpass Buyers with US dollar denominated accounts are being notified that they will have seven (7) days to spend any amounts that currently exist in their Bitpass Account.

During this seven day period, US Buyers will not be able to add additional funds into their account.

On January 26, all US Bitpass Buyer accounts will be closed and we will begin the process of refunding all unspent monies to the accountholder.

Bitpass Merchant Accounts will be available for viewing until February 28, 2007. At that time any funds that you have on account or owed to you will be refunded or paid. All account records and materials will be retained for 60 days and available upon request.

Again we would like to thank you for your business and support.

I'm sad to hear it. I never really made any money off my Bitpass work, but I figure it was more to do with my content and lack of advertising. I do think it was the closest way for us to get paid directly for our comics.

Edit: Some one mentioned this may be spam. Bitpass has no mention on their site.

Taking up a Collection

Okay I figure if everyone on the internet will just contribute a nickel, we can get a nice memorial built to the idea of micropayments. Maybe a granite tomb with the words "NEVER AGAIN" engraved on it.

And a 24-hour guard with a mallet and a wooden stake. Y'know. Just to be sure.

irony

Tony Esteves's picture

[quote=Anonymous]Okay I figure if everyone on the internet will just contribute a nickel, we can get a nice memorial built to the idea of micropayments. Maybe a granite tomb with the words "NEVER AGAIN" engraved on it. [/quote]

The people who want to kill micropayments will never go along with your plan.

-tony

-tony

The Contraversial Question

Tony Esteves's picture

Hey Neal!

I'm wondering what your opinion is on this: Does the closing of Bitpass mean that the micropayment model was never meant to be or maybe it's too soon and the idea was "ahead of its time" (like the flying car)?

T Campbell wrote in his blog that "McCloud's vision of a "micropayments economy" for independent comics has never looked further away."

-tony

-tony

Hey Tony! Long time no

Neal Von Flue's picture

Hey Tony! Long time no talk!

I agree with Xerexes, webcomics itself wont make or break Micros, They sure didn't make or break Bitpass, despite it's beginnings here. Micropayments seem to work in some arenas, And my feeling has always been that we would need bigger comics "names" using Bitpass to make it fly (More than McCloud, anyway)

And until someone else comes up with the next Bitpass, I can't be proven wrong!Wink

Neal

ape-law.com/hypercomics

Popularity

Tony Esteves's picture

[quote=nvonflue] ...And my feeling has always been that we would need bigger comics "names" using Bitpass to make it fly (More than McCloud, anyway)[/quote]

Would that mean if Marvel, DC, DarkHorse, etcetera picked up the torch that it would revolutionize comics for everyone?

Or would we look more toward PvP, Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance and the bigger names of webcomics to pick up that torch?

-tony

-tony

All of the above, but mostly

Neal Von Flue's picture

All of the above, but mostly people who make money in the webcomics environment. My assumption is Penny Arcade would make a much bigger spike in the visibility (and viability) of a micropay option than Marvel would.

Here's an excerpt from an extremely long winded post I made back in June of 05:

One of the reasons Bitpass flounders is because there are no big names using it. iTunes thrives on big names that show up on the radio and television every minute. Outkast built iTunes. and Britney Spears. Not people like Elvis Costello or David Bowie. They are just gravy, and have grown into the solid infrastructure that the stars-of-the-minute have over-saturated themselves in.

We may have a number of webcomic Bowie’s or Costello’s, who are using bitpass to a very limited and shaky success. But there is only one guy with a big name using comic’s best micropayment system. that’s right, Scott McCloud. And as an advocate (and company consultant) it can hardly be gleaned that he is behind Bitpass altruistically (I mean, I think he is. But you don’t, and I guess that matters…)

If we had more “big names” taking up a micropayment banner, and using it as a complement to their already successful strategy of “selling shit other than webcomics”, we’d probably see quite a jump in the viability (or destruction) of Bitpass. I don’t see these business models as exclusive, really.

I see no reason that Penny Arcade can’t lock up a years worth of strips in a pdf file and sell em for $0.99. What’s that? Over 250 PA strips for less than a dollar?Everyone talks about how awesome they are, and how they’ve spent 20 bucks (including shipping) on an EpicWang shirt, why not buy the actual strips you love so much, for a fraction of the price?

 

All of this is moot, of course. 'Cause Bitpass is gone. And from what we saw on the outside, they had clients like MSN and Disney. I'd like to know what actually happened.

 

Neal

ape-law.com/hypercomics

cost/benefit

Tony Esteves's picture

[quote=nvonflue] My assumption is Penny Arcade would make a much bigger spike in the visibility (and viability) of a micropay option than Marvel would.[/quote]

It's a possibility. I'll have to read through Penny Arcade's blog archives to remind myself on the reason why they didn't wish to follow the micropayment model.

[quote=nvonflue] ...Bitpass is gone. And from what we saw on the outside, they had clients like MSN and Disney. I'd like to know what actually happened. [/quote]

Me too. I would guess that the business of tiny monetary transactions may not be very lucrative. It may work better as a "side-role" of a larger pre-established company. Sadly, I'm not familiar with the expenses involved and if there were more sales traffic- how much of an impact would that make?

-tony

-tony

Other perspectives on Bitpass...

Neal Von Flue's picture

From this blog's comments comes some look at the behind the scenes position Bitpass was in, from an employee.

(copied from the this comment in the above mentioned blog:)

I did indeed work for Bitpass, and they were actually making pretty good money until stakeholders from their rounds of VC funding pressured them to get out of the adult content business, neglect indie content creators and spend all of their resources on going after big media.

 

Also other micropay solutions are popping up in various comment sections, looking to pick up the stragglers left in Bitpass' wake. There's a couple in the GigaOM article. Kudos to anyone who tries them and lets us know how they rate.

And finally in the buried lead dept.: Some people have been stating that they were charged a 5 dollar processing fee on "negligent accounts" (Another mention of this here,) directly before Bitpass shut down and were never notified of it. Micropay extortion? Can anyone else verify this?

I guess that's what happens when you buy the expensive tea.

 

Neal

ape-law.com/hypercomics

autopsy

Tony Esteves's picture

[quote=former Bitpass employee]

...they were actually making pretty good money until stakeholders from their rounds of VC funding pressured them to get out of the adult content business, neglect indie content creators and spend all of their resources on going after big media.[/quote]

That makes sense. Stakeholders sometimes have a way of making companies move away from the Mission Statement.

-tony

-tony

Not Neal

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Well I'm not Neal but I think there's still hope - itunes is in the vicinity of the micropayments idea and someone mentioned how Project Wonderful is facilitating lots of sub-10 cent transactions. I don't think comics will be enough to support the creation of such a working micropayments system but if other more widespread (and with more cash involved) entertainment content transitions to anything like it comics might be able to piggyback on it.

It was never going to be the "one solution" but it might be a useful tool sometime in the future.

____

Xaviar Xerexes

On second thought, let's not go to Comixpedia. It is a silly place.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

...itunes IS?

Tony Esteves's picture

[quote=xerexes] ...itunes is in the vicinity of the micropayments idea and someone mentioned how Project Wonderful is facilitating lots of sub-10 cent transactions.[/quote]

Well, I do see how digital music is analogous to digital comics1... but I am a bit surprised at the Demand Side economics that allow itunes to thrive.

Project Wonderful works on a different model of "limited" ad space/time and fluctuating demand. Even though it works with smaller payments (because maybe I can't sell my ad space for more money) I don't think we can start auctioning off our webcomics to the highest bidder... or can we?

[quote=xerexes]I don't think comics will be enough to support the creation of such a working micropayments system but if other more widespread (and with more cash involved) entertainment content transitions to anything like it comics might be able to piggyback on it.[/quote]

Why "more cash involved"? McCloud was describing how with a larger online audience... selling a webcomic subscription for nickels can generate more money than printing off minis/zines and walking down the "cultural hub" of your hometown... making sales... spending that extra time and money. The online model is supposed to be more convenient.

My footnotes:
1 Cartoonists are to Musicians as:
a) Comic books are to CDs
b) Graphic novels are to Box sets
c) .cbr is to .mp3
d) Publishers are to Record Labels
e) all of the above

 

-tony

-tony

More cash in the sense that

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

More cash in the sense that more economics activity gets conducted via this hypothetical micropayments model. If I watch my movies, tv, music and whatall else online through one micropayments system that I can also get comics thru I think that's more likely to succeed then just comics.

That's be an interesting way to use PW - I have no idea how PW could be used for micropayments in the classic sense but it is one of the few small $ systems I've seen that seems to be working well.

____

Xaviar Xerexes

On second thought, let's not go to Comixpedia. It is a silly place.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

...

I hate to sound negative, but what is the point of Bitpass? I never personally used it, because it just seemed like a way to add another middleman to the already pricey process of online fund transactions.

It's official.

It's official.

Been hearing rumors of this

I've been tracking this and other micropayment solutions through Google Alerts for a while now, and I've heard people talking about Bitpass being in trouble. So this doesn't seem very surprising, and I don't think it's spam. I had a Bitpass account and got the same e-mail.

I had mentioned it back when

Neal Von Flue's picture

I had mentioned it back when they shut my merchant account down, and noticed then that it looked like they shut yours down as well (at least I couldn't buy any content from you)

And it looks like the real deal, at least the news is popping up in other places. Oh well, what will take it's place? Anything?

 

Neal
ape-law.com/hypercomics