Online shoppers prepared to sell you their privacy

People would rather keep their cash to themselves

People would rather keep their cash to themselves

Online shoppers don’t like paying for material they have previously had for nothing. And Internet users in the UK are the most miserly in the world. A new study shows that eight out of ten people would go elsewhere rather than pay for goods and services online. Even so, around 43% of people worldwide would pay for online information if they had to – but in the UK that number drops to a mere 19%. British people really are mean, it seems.

The problem for many website owners is that they trade in information. Business to business consultancies, lawyers, accountants and so on all sell information. With so many people unprepared to pay for that information, there is a real problem opening up. Information based businesses want to sell more via the web, yet customers of those businesses want more and more free of charge.

But don’t worry too much. Money is only one form of currency. Another study shows that many of the people unprepared to “pay” for goods and services online are willing to give up something else in return. According to The Future of Digital Content report, many people will give up privacy in return for goods and services. In other words, people might not pay you cash for what you sell, but they are prepared for you to connect their “purchase” to other suppliers who may then offer them other products in the future.

In other words, information about “customers” becomes the asset that you trade, instead of cash. Your “customers” receive your information in return, for instance, you being able to sell their contact details to a third party. Your customer gives you one currency which you exchange for another currency – real money.

Interestingly, people seem more prepared to give up privacy than to relinquish cash. That’s an important point – people are prepared to pay in many ways. Cash is not the only currency, so your online offers do not have to be priced in cash. You can offer goods and services in a variety of “currencies”, including privacy, and then you can sell those currencies on other “markets”. Think of it rather like foreign exchange. If you sell in the USA in Dollars, but bank in the UK in Sterling, you simply exchange one currency for another. But if you sell goods in exchange for privacy in the UK, you can swap that commodity you acquire for cash with other businesses in the UK. In other words you still get your cash, but not from your original purchaser – in just the same way as when you sell for US Dollars you still get your UK Pounds, just not from the original American buyers.

This study is a useful reminder that people will pay you for what you sell – but they might not always be prepared to use cash. So what can you sell in exchange for other “currencies” and how can you exchange those “currencies” with other business connections for actual cash? There is more than one way of actually making money…!

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