Less altruism, more capitalism – Flattr users no longer need to give to receive

Flattr, the social micropayment startup founded by ex-Pirate Bay associates, is announcing a significant change today.

In a move that represents less altruism and more capitalism, from May 1st onwards Flattr will no longer require new users to add credit to their accounts in order to run the Flattr button on their sites and start receiving payments. In other words, users won’t be required to give to receive.

It’s a shift that signals Flattr’s clear intention to become a major player in the Internet payments space, de-cloaking bit by bit from something quite idiosyncratic and slightly below the radar to a potentially more mainstream offering. In January, the service began letting users donate specific amounts of cash directly rather than relying solely on the albeit innovate model of simply divvying up a pre-allocated monthly pool of cash (starting from €2), no matter how thinly that’s spread if a user chooses to “Flattr” a high number of sites.

And while today’s change in policy somewhat breaks the communal feel of Flattr, it will likely see the Flattr button get adopted much more widely. The site has previously faced criticism that its policy of ‘give to receive’ resulted in a bunch of money going round in a circle. Moving forward, that will emphatically no longer be the case, even if the perception wasn’t really justified; more than half of Flattr’s users are givers only and don’t run the Flattr button on a site of their own.