The identification of factors that influence online micropayment use in the news industry in Switzerland
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Micropayments have experienced a significant growth in today’s everyday life. Surprisingly, the idea of using small amounts for payment of news is not among the most frequently-used payment modalities in the newspaper industry, particularly in innovative countries such as Switzerland. Apparently, there is still a knowledge gap regarding the manner in which consumers perceive online micropayments to pay for news. This affects the development of micropayment strategies and profit models implemented by publishers, who have experienced a rapid decline in circulation revenues due to other forms of perceived ‘free’ news, such as the internet. At the heart of this issue, one challenging area of research and business interest is to identify factors that consumers consider when deciding to make small purchases. In order to address this, this thesis adopts a primarily positivist philosophy utilising a mixedmethods approach to address the research question: ‘What are the factors that influence consumers’ use of online micropayments in the Swiss newspaper industry?’ Moreover, the study examines how various attributes add to the perception of usefulness and ease of use of such acceptance factors, as well as the degree to which they contribute to the purchasing intent of small payments for online news. A conceptual model based on the Technology Acceptance Model including a set of external variables comprising system characteristics and individual differences was used to structure these influences and analysed using Structural Equation Modelling. Nine industry experts were used to identify additional influencing factors, a pilot study with business experts was used to verify the basic model and methodology and the model was evaluated using Partial Least Squares in the full-scale main study of 262 respondents. Finally, a validation study of eight academic specialists and business professionals enriched the research findings and acted as triangulation to strengthen the results. The results indicate that micropayments indeed play an important role for digital news in Switzerland, embedded in the application of system characteristics. Five concrete system characteristics — compatibility, later payment, single payment platform, mobility and convenience — are found to be positively and significantly linked to the perceived usefulness, with the latter two also showing a strong significant effect on perceived ease of use. Furthermore, it is found that attitude towards the use of micropayments has a strong positive relationship with the intention to use micropayments. The implication of the research outcomes provides strong potential for the practical proposition of micropayment services in the news industry and identifies future directions for creating appropriate strategies for users paying in small amounts. No prior study is known to have been conducted to empirically test behavioural factors that influence the consumer use of micropayments in the news industry, specifically in the Swiss market. Hence, several noteworthy contributions to the literature and to theory were gained from this study, particularly determinants that drive the use of micropayments for digital news. One major contribution is the narrowing down of the gaps in former research investigative factors between micropayments and mobile payment acceptance. Furthermore, the topic of micropayments as an emerging business model for newspaper organisations which can monetise digital news to sustain profitability has been addressed.