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July 15, 2019updated 07 Nov 2023 5:44am

New European drops micro-paywall charging readers 10p for premium articles

By James Walker

The New European has dropped a micro-paywall that charged readers 10p for premium articles, its editor has confirmed.

Matt Kelly told Press Gazette the paywall, powered by tech firm Axate, formerly Agate, “wasn’t the ideal approach” for New European readers.

But Kelly said the weekly paper’s owners Archant, where he is also chief content officer, is in talks about using the service on some of its other titles.

The regional publisher owns some 50 local newspapers, including regional dailies the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times.

The New European rolled out the Axate paywall, which is still used by gossip website Popbitch and The Cricketer, in July last year.

Readers were asked to pay £3 into a digital wallet to read content behind the paywall, but were only charged a maximum of 50p per week for access to premium articles.

Speaking to Press Gazette at the time, editor Matt Kelly said the paper was “putting our toe in the water to see if this kind of micro payment makes more sense than just erecting a big fat paywall”.

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He today said there was “no drama” around the end of the partnership, adding: “We just found it wasn’t the ideal approach for New European readers who are so passionate about the cause that they want to support us in a more direct way, Guardian style.”

The Guardian asks readers for donations to support its work, outside of purchasing a paper, and refuses to erect a paywall online.

But Kelly added: “We have been impressed by the technology and I think it’s got a good place to play in the payments ecosystem.”

Axate chief executive Dominic Young said: “The New European were great pioneers on every front and continue to be – their whole newspaper, their business model, different payment options.

“They were using Axate, they’re not using it right now, there’s no reason why they or others in their group might not use it again in future especially as the network grows.”

He added that it was for publishers to decide what they want to charge for and “how to balance paid and free content and what relationship they want with their audience”.

Axate changed its name from Agate earlier this month for “dull trademark reasons”, according to a blog post.

The post said: “Nothing else has changed. We’re still the same company. Wallets still work in exactly the same way. Your balance is still there and we work with the same increasing number of sites as before.”

Young also tweeted on Friday that the company would be “out the door with a bunch more” publications in “the next week or so”.

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