Piano Media Expands Into Poland With National Paywall System and SMS Billing

Posted on July 24, 2012

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The most popular (and only?) paywall system, Piano Media, launched in Poland this week, putting content from 42 websites behind its national paywall (including 10% of content from Forbes.pl).

Piano Media is known for its previous success in non-English, single-language countries like Slovakia and Slovenia. The one-bill, one-login system will charge Polish readers $5.85 a month (19.90 Polish zlotys) or about $58 per year (199 zlotys).

The company will have to work with some interesting national payment methods. For one thing, Poles seem wary of credit cards in general and specifically wary of them for online purchases. Most choose to pay via SMS, where purchases are tagged on to cell phone bills. But Polish telecommunications companies usually take a 50% cut of any payments, according the Nieman Journalism Lab blog. (Slovakia and Slovenia telecommunications companies take a 20% cut.)

While this payment model is unlikely to thrive in the United States (as if cell phone companies weren’t fleecing consumers already), it is interesting and one that subscription and membership sites should be aware of when launching in other countries, regardless of whether those countries have a national paywall system or not.

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