There is no reason why a model offering a one-off payment service for access to content hidden behind website paywalls wouldn’t work in the US, Germany or France, stated Tomas Bella, the founder of Piano Media.
Bella is himself a former journalist who protested when his own newspaper put up a paywall and decided to create a better model that would make it easier to get access to this content — as well as content from other publishers. He was also keen to offer an alternative to the “binary view” of paid versus unpaid content.
The service now has 2.5 million users in Slovakia and 1.4 m in Slovenia, but Bella is ambitious about expansion. The company plans to launch in a further five countries by the end of 2012. Discussions with publishers in the US, France and Germany have already taken place. Bella says that getting four or five publishers on board in each country is enough.