Il Giornale, a conservative and sometimes controversial Italian newspaper serving the metropolitan area of Milan, has started accepting bitcoin for subscriptions to its premium PDF edition.
An annual subscription costs 42 euro cents per day and the PDF version is optimised for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
The paper already accepts all major credit cards and PayPal. It now claims to be the first newspaper in Italy and Europe to accept bitcoin.
Italian bitcoiners react
The community response to il Giornale’s decision to embrace bitcoin has been largely positive, but some political questions persist.
The paper was bought by Italian media mogul and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in 1977. After Berlusconi decided to try his luck in politics, he sold the paper to his brother Paolo Berlusconi and veteran journalist Vittorio Feltri.
"I heard that today on a national TV interview Paolo Berlusconi (yes, his brother), told that it will possible to buy his newspaper 'il Giornale' with bitcoin. It's basically an endorsement [of bitcoin]," said bitcoin entrepreneur and Bitcoin Foundation member Davide Barbieri.
Coin Capital’s Sebastiano Scrofina shares the sentiment:
Scrofina hopes other newspapers will follow in il Giornale’s footsteps, just to balance things out from a political perspective.
No Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times became the first major US newspaper to accept bitcoin in April 2014. However, the US publication is doing things a bit differently.
Like il Giornale it is selling standard subscriptions, but in addition to annual subscriptions it is also experimenting with micropayments. Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad has experimented with with bitcoin micropayments, too.
Selling standard subscriptions is just a part of the puzzle, but it is hardly innovative. Bitcoin enthusiasts have been advocating the use of bitcoin for micropayments in the content industry for a while.
The standard argument is that bitcoin would allow users access to cheap ‘à la carte content’ by making frictionless microtransactions viable. News junkies could simply choose to read a single report, or subscribe to a publication for a day or two without having to pay credit card fees.
Earlier this year, PriceWaterhouseCoopers examined the possibility of using bitcoin to buy and sell content and its findings were generally positive.
Of course, more work is needed to implement a simple, cheap and reliable micropayments system, but micropayments are already recognised as promising niche market for digital currencies.
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