Netherlands Startup Launches Email Postage Scheme Using Bitcoin

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March 25, 2015

Does cryptocurrency provide the right infrastructure to make email postage a reality? A Netherlands-based startup, wrte.io, thinks it has.

Anyone interested in finding out if the idea has merit can go to the wrte.io website and register for a wrte.io email address. All one needs to do is register for a free public email address and wait for the payments to come in along with the emails. Founder Ivan Pashchenko of Eindhoven, Netherlands plans to begin a beta test in the very near future with those who have registered for the service. Around 800 have already sent registration emails.

If Pashchenko is correct, wrte.io may be one of the easiest ways to earn bitcoin. The user simply creates a wrte.io email address as a public email. The system then forwards all emails to the addressee’s personal email once they are paid.

 

Earn money and fight spam

Charging senders for email not only earns you bitcoin; it also discourages unwanted email. Wrte.io’s website states:

“Make people think before they send you cold email.”

Pashchenko said bitcoin provides an easy way to bring to market an idea – email postage – that has been around for more than a decade. “This is obviously not a new idea,” Pashchenko said. “I believe Bill Gates discussed it around 10 years ago. Cryptocurrency looks like a perfect base for micropayments. It feels like the right moment with the rise of the crypto economy. We just decided to try it.”

When someone emails a wrte.io address, the system immediately sends an invoice for payment to the sender. The invoice notes that it is a one-time payment for sending the email. It includes a bitcoin address and a QR code. Once wrte.io verifies payment, the system forwards the message to the recipient’s personal email.

Users can set up the amount they want to charge senders per email on the wrte.io signup page.

The bitcoin payments are stored in the recipient’s wrte.io account. The recipient can then transfer the bitcoin to their own bitcoin wallet.

The wrte.io system accepts bitcoin payment using the Stripe payment service. Stripe is a San Francisco, Calif. mobile payment service that recently began offering bitcoin payment to merchants. “The current (bitcoin) infrastructure is not ready to make the payment flow smooth for users,” Pashchenko told CCN. “That’s why we decided to implement Stripe.”

Numerous benefits of email postage

Asked what types of individuals would be most likely to benefit from charging for emails, Pashchenko pointed to different scenarios.

The purpose of charging for emails when it was discussed 10 years ago was to discourage unwanted spam. That remains a goal for many.

Pashchenko noted that popular individuals could have reason to charge for emails to discourage unwanted communication.

The service can also work to the benefit of the email sender who wants to convey the serious intent of their message. Pashchenko said someone who wants to pitch an idea for a story to a journalist might welcome the opportunity to pay for an email to get the journalist’s attention.

Similarly, paying for emails could be a good marketing tool for various types of products and services.

“We provide the service to create a paywall. If a sender thinks he can have more value from sending his email than the paywall price, he would probably pay for it.”

Also read: Encrypted email goes mobile with Tutanota

Roots of email postage

In 2004, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that spam would not be a problem in two years, in part because of systems that would require people to pay to send e-mail. Microsoft launched its Penny Black project that has been investigating several techniques to reduce spam by making the sender pay. The project has considered different currencies for payment: CPU cycles, memory cycles, Turing tests (proof that a human was involved) and cash.

Critics of proposed email postage schemes have argued that the systems would be too difficult to implement and would also be problematic for some legitimate senders.

Last modified (UTC): March 25, 2015 12:04

Tags: Stripe