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Adblock Plus owner Eyeo hikes fees for micropayments service Flattr

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Eyeo, the Germany-based company behind popular adblocking service Adblock Plus, has announced that it’s hiking the fees it charges creators for using its Flattr micropayments service.

By way of a quick recap, Flattr is an online system powered by a browser add-on that allows readers and fans of specific online content providers to make regular payments or one-off donations. Flattr was cofounded in 2010 by the Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde, and last year it partnered with Eyeo on a new payments project called Flattr Plus that lets users set a monthly budget for all the content they consume. Earlier this year, Eyeo went all-in and acquired Flattr outright.

Eyeo has been facing growing pressure from the media industry for its role in blocking revenue streams for online publishers, and with Flattr under its wing Eyeo clearly wants to be seen as the good guy by making it easier for publishers to receive payment without resorting to ads or paywalls. But Eyeo, of course, is a business, and it too has to be reimbursed for its efforts.

Previously, Flattr charged a flat 10 percent fee without breaking the figure down into what its cut was and what the payment processing fee was — after all, do people really care about that? But in what is being touted as a shift toward greater transparency, Eyeo is now providing a breakdown of its own fee and the processing fee — and taking the opportunity to increase the overall fee.

Moving forward, Eyeo will charge 7.5 percent for running Flattr, and a further 9 percent to cover payment processing, effectively increasing the overall fee by 6.5 percent. The company claimed that its 7.5 percent cut is “similar” to what Flattr took historically but said it has had to up the payment processing fees because it has now switched its currency to U.S. dollars (USD), while rolling out subscription payments has also led to increased fees.

Reading between the lines, it’s clear that Eyeo is adopting a more transparent pricing structure here because it wants you all to know that it’s not actually making any more money off the change. It also said that it may lower the 9 percent fee if it can increase its payment volumes, which will of course mean more people signing up for a Flattr subscription.

“Flattr is a commercial product and has always been,” explained Eyeo’s public affairs manager, Laura Dornheim, in a blog post. “We cannot guarantee the system or the safety of our contributors’ and our creators’ money if we do not make money ourselves. We hope you agree with this and understand that our vision is to create a better internet for creators and the people enjoying their content.”

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