In this Q&A, Chris Lawrence, Senior Program Manager for Grant for the Web and nonprofit executive, expands upon the program’s efforts to monetize content on the web boosted by open and inclusive standards.
Grant for the Web is a $100 million fund promoting open standards regarding web monetization. How does it effectively generate better business models?
The current business model of the web is broken. It’s dominated by invasive advertising and data-mining that often result in poor user experiences and threats to our online privacy and security. Paywalls and subscriptions provide alternatives, but they force people to set up multiple accounts on multiple platforms, which eventually generates fatigue.
Grant for the Web was established to fund experimentation into different ways the web can be used to transfer value or payments, specifically using a suite of open tools built around the Web Monetization standard and the Interledger Protocol. We believe solutions for sending and receiving payments can be built directly into the infrastructure of the web, starting with the browser. This will allow content creators and publishers to connect directly with consumers, diminishing the need for third-party services which take a cut of revenue and prevent people from accessing the creative content they are interested in.
What do you envision as the future of open standards and internet protocols?
Too often new features, tools, and platforms that use the internet are built-in native apps, proprietary platforms, and other walled gardens. The aggregate effect of this is that the web suffers from a lack of continued evolution on the core standards, and protocols that make the web work for everyone.
One of the exciting pieces of both the Interledger Protocol and the Web Monetization standard is that it takes an open web approach to what has been a blocker and black box to how finances can work on the web. If these new open web design principles can be applied to payments and monetized content consumption, it could be a monumental advancement for why the web platform must be standardized for the benefit of all.
How does Grant for the Web’s built-in monetization differ from other web monetization offerings? What makes it a better choice for publishers and content creators?
Now more than ever, publishers are seeking new revenue streams. Web Monetization is an open technology that enables streaming micropayments to flow to publishers and writers for every second a user spends on an article. It’s additive, leaving other revenue streams undisturbed, and gives publishers the freedom to decide what exclusive content, ad-free experiences, or anything else they want to offer.
Web Monetization also allows for greater privacy protections, as it decouples the user (sender) and the creator/producer/service provider (receiver) by using the browser as an intermediary. Because of this separation, the privacy of users can be protected and payment information can be separated from individual users.
How does the fund help protect consumer security and privacy?
Grant for the Web’s founding collaborators are Mozilla, Creative Commons and Coil, all organizations that are deeply invested in user privacy. Mozilla and Creative Commons, in particular, have deep roots in privacy and consumer security, through products, advocacy, and education. Coil, the funder of this grant, partnered with Mozilla Creative commons because they align with the shared values of a safe, healthy web. Coil takes privacy and security seriously.
Additionally, the core technology pieces (the Interledger Protocol and the Web Monetization standard) do not collect or share any user information.