The Chicago Sun-Times and BitWall have released new metrics regarding their 1st February bitcoin paywall test, revealing that Sun-Times readers contributed more than 700 donations to the Taproot Foundation as part of the 24-hour trial.
Conducted last Saturday, the introductory partnership found the ninth-largest US newspaper teaming up with an emerging San Francisco startup as a way to explore its own monetization options. BitWall, on the other hand, received its first chance to launch a large-scale test of whether bitcoin micropayments could deliver for mainstream publishers.
Speaking to CoinDesk, BitWall CEO and co-founder Nic Meliones recounted what was at stake for his company and the wider industry:
"The big picture was testing bitcoin as a payment method and showing that there is an appetite for consumers out there to use this technology, and do it easily," Meliones said.
Meliones said that on this count, both his company and bitcoin passed the test. BitWall experienced no downtime during the 24-hour period, and received positive feedback from readers, including mobile users, a key demographic given how content consumption is trending, the CEO said.
"There were a lot of users out there on mobile, and we've been priming the product to get it ready for that, to make things as frictionless as possible," said Meliones.
In turn, the Sun-Times got its first glimpse of what kind of revenue micropayments could bring to its operations.
Broken down by donation size, the 713 bitcoin contributors were most likely to give 25 cents - 63% of the bitcoin donations made to the Sun-Times were for payments in this denomination.
As shown by this chart, perhaps most encouragingly for content providers, less than 2% of bitcoin users donated an amount of less than 25 cents, while 31% donated between 25 cents and $13 for content.
Meliones said the size of the donations was indicative of how easy it is for consumers to engage in small bitcoin payments.
As an alternative to bitcoin gifting, readers were also able to donate tweets in support of the Taproot Foundation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the test showed users were eager to receive content for providing the organization free publicity. The data shows just how much exposure publishers could gain from a social paywall. Each tweet generated an additional 38 clicks for the nonprofit.
Still, Meliones suggested bitcoin payments were the more popular option due to the high community support for the test.
"For a lot of different publications, tweets and bitcoin donations have been in line, but in this case, bitcoin donations were more prolific," Meliones said.
For now, Meliones is confident in the results and what they say about BitWall's capabilities to deliver on its value proposition. The CEO said that the test was proof that it could successfully launch its service, and do so on a platform with the kind of high-volume traffic of the Sun-Times.
While Meliones declined to comment on how talks with the Sun-Times had progressed since Saturday's test, he did indicate that conversation is still persisting between the two organizations.
"We're still chatting on that quite a bit," he said.