New Publishing Tech
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Q&A: PayRead’s frictionless reader payments for publishers

PayRead by Fortumo removes friction from the registration and payment process for digital publishers by giving them access to a reader’s mobile identity. Based out of Estonia, and with offices in San Francisco, Madrid, Beijing, Delhi, Singapore and Hanoi, WNIP caught up with Andrea Boetti, Head of PayRead at Fortumo, to find out more.

What business problem is your company addressing?

Ad blockers are becoming increasingly popular which negatively impacts digital publishers’ revenue. At the same time, the amount of people that pay for online news in most countries remains below 20%. While most publishers have a digital subscription offering available, the majority of readers are not converted into paying customers.

One key reason for low conversion is that the user experience is full of friction: readers need to register a separate account with the publisher and the payment process requires entering additional personal details as well as credit card information. As the data shows, most people either do not enter the checkout process or abandon it halfway through.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

PayRead removes friction from the registration and payment process for digital publishers by giving them access to the readers’ mobile identity: their phone number. This phone number can then be used for both account creation as well as payments to the publisher, through charging purchases to the reader’s mobile phone bill.

As a result, readers don’t need to enter any personal information about themselves during sign-up, other than their phone number. And once they are willing to purchase a subscription or pay for individual articles, they simply confirm the charge through a PIN verification process. This results in more people creating an account, lower abandonment during the checkout process, better conversion and increased revenue for the publisher.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

Fortumo, the company behind PayRead, is already working with publishers that include Aftonbladet (part of Schibsted Media Group), Magzter and Readwhere. In addition to publishers, Fortumo’s platform is used for user authentication and payments by some of the world’s largest digital companies, including Google Play and Spotify.


There are no sign-up or recurring fees for using PayRead’s platform. We operate purely on a revenue share basis, taking a small cut from each authentication and transaction.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Our primary competitors are companies providing dedicated monetization solutions for digital publishers, but today all of the solutions are based on credit cards. There are also a few regional and local companies who provide the telco-based solutions as we do.  The primary difference for PayRead is that thanks to 10 years of work with other digital segments, we are able to provide a global turnkey solution that reaches consumers in more than 100 countries.

Thanks to the vast amount of data that we have from working together with companies like Google Play, we are able to provide publishers not just with a technical solution for identity and payments management, but share expertise on how consumers are engaging with online content and what specific steps need to be taken in order to improve conversion.

How do you view the future?

The primary challenge for digital publishers today is transforming their existing reader base into paying customers. Looking ahead, we see that identity and payments are not the only aspects on which publishers can work together with mobile operators. User acquisition and co-marketing campaigns done together with telcos can bring new readers to publishers, and this approach is in fact widely used in some other digital segments such as music and video streaming.

Thank you.

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