British Telecom will this autumn launch an online ‘micropayments’ service – a move that could at last propel paid-for web content (and cybertrading in general) into orbit.

The technology, developed in Germany by Firstgate Internet, will allow surfers to purchase goods, services and content online, with payments charged to their BT telephone bill. Among the early adopters of the service are BT’s own music site,, women's site, and games purveyor Infogrames.

Says Angus Porter, managing director of BT Retail's consumer division: “BT micropayments give the customer the equivalent of shopping with loose change online. It's about enabling the customer to buy a music MP3 or access a new online game when they want and charging it to a single account.”

In Germany, where the service is already up and running, the average consumer transaction varies between 50p and £5. In practice, on BTm-enabled sites, buyers simply click on the BT micropayment button, enter their password and the transaction is automatically charged to their account. This can be paid off monthly by debit or credit card with a further option to charge payments to a BT phone bill.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff