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Q&A: How is tackling publisher micropayments

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Can you give us some background about your company? is operated by xsact, inc., which was founded in 2016 in Santa Barbara, CA USA, by Ken Goldsholl and Karl Hiramoto. Transact was launched in January 2017. It is privately held by the founders and some employees.  

What business problem is your company addressing?

Transact was founded to create a viable business model for publishers, as it is clear to us that the ad-funded model (especially when relying on 3rd party platforms) is not sustainable for many publishers.

Transact is a debit card for digital media, providing a low friction, fast payment process for readers, viewers, and listeners, while letting publishers control how much they charge, keep most of the revenue, and stay closely connected to their readers.

Nobody can justify subscribing to every site they visit, so publishers currently either have to choose between a hard paywall where they get nothing from random readers, and no paywall, which means they don’t even get revenue from regular readers.

We believe most publishers that do not change their business model will fail, and we think we can help them transition to the new model.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

Transact lets publishers charge non-subscribers for access to content, and give it complete control over what is free or not, and how much it costs. While Transact is designed to collect payments for random readers, it also can process payments for subscriptions, so only one system is required. 

Readers only need to log into their Transact account on the same browser as the publisher site, and then it usually requires just one click (and a few seconds) to pay for an article.  Transact makes no restrictions on content, so publishers can still sell ads.

How does your solution work?

Transact requires only that publishers create a publisher account and then install simple software on their server, a process which takes just minutes.  Once they have set up their system, they can set the price independently for every article on their website (not all articles have the same value).

The publisher can set a price as low as one cent, and receive 90% of the revenue (plus 94% of a payment over $1), and can decide which content is free (excerpts and breaking news) and which content people must pay for (everything else).

Publishers can also choose to let readers decide how much to pay.  Readers never leave the publisher site – they only need to create a Transact account, and deposit small amounts of money (for now, they get $3 free credit) which are transferred to publishers when they pay to read an article. We don’t aggregate or curate content, we just transfer money between reader and publisher.

How are you different to what other people are doing in the space and why?

  1. We don’t aggregate or curate content. Readers stay on the publisher’s site.
  2. We don’t take a large cut of the revenue – 10% at most. We don’t control pricing, which can be changed by the publisher at any time.
  3. Payment processing is almost instant – it takes just a few seconds at most once logged in.
  4. We don’t rely on advertisers.
  5. Publishers know exactly how many people read each article.
  6. There are no setup or monthly fees.


We only make money when a publisher make money. We take 10% of every payment under $1 by a reader, and 5% of the amount over $1, and the publisher receives the rest (90%+).

How do you view the future?

We plan to offer many new features for both publishers and readers, including ways for publishers to increase revenue beyond direct payments, and also for ways to support people who cannot afford to pay much for news.

The supply of places to advertise is growing, which means the cost of advertising will only decrease. The reliance solely on third party ad platforms will end, either by publishers choosing new business models, or by publishers going out of business. We hope it is the former.

We believe it will take many changes to evolve into a sustainable industry, and have been working to create an ecosystem that supports publishers while also addressing the needs and interests of readers.

Thank you.

Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst on Unsplash