It also includes a whopper of a forecast:
> "I'm not a big believer," said David Weisman, director
> of the money and technology group at Forrester Research
> Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "How many people are going to
> make their business plans off selling things at a tenth
> of a cent?"
This guy's gonna go down in history (if at all) like Tom Watson's declaration
that the market could only support 10-12 IBM computers worldwide (1950s).
July 8, 1996 9:00 AM ET * PCWEEK
Tollbooths on the infobahn
Digital's Millicent to enable prepay-as-you-surf, in tenths of a cent
By _Jim Kerstetter_
Digital Equipment Corp. plans to begin testing this year products based on
new technology that enables payments over the Internet of sums as small as a
tenth of a cent.
The technology, called Millicent, will likely be incorporated into software
that "micro-payment-enables" a World Wide Web server, said Russ Jones, program
office director of the Internet Business Group at Digital's Palo Alto,
In development since the fall, Millicent joins a market that is becoming
crowded with other proponents of micro-payment technology, including IBM,
DigiCash, CyberCash Inc. and Citibank N.A.
The payment technology could work with or in place of current
advertising-driven models or other revenue streams such as subscriptions.
Digital's plans are far from concrete, however. Jones said the company is in
talks with several partners about how to implement the technology in Internet
server and client software.
A Web server running Millicent would be the foundation of payment collection
schemes for Web content providers looking for a way to receive minute payments
for use of their site. The Millicent concept will rely upon brokers, such as
banks, credit card companies or Internet service providers, that control the
flow of "scrip," Digital's term for electronic currency.
The technology works on a debit system. Consumers will pay in advance for
scrip, with the broker controlling the payments back to the content provider.
Consumers will receive a "Millicent-enabled desktop," said Jones, perhaps by
downloading a Millicent browser plug-in.
There are trade-offs in Millicent, Jones said: It does not allow for public
key encryption, nor does it allow the consumer to dispute a bill.
"The cost of something would be so small, it wouldn't be worth the effort to
dispute a charge," Jones said.
But some analysts doubt that content providers other than tiny,
research-based outfits will find micro-payment technology useful.
"I'm not a big believer," said David Weisman, director of the money and
technology group at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "How many
people are going to make their business plans off selling things at a tenth of