The company, based in the Netherlands, is trying to prove its model can work in a larger market. Investment capital in hand, its eyes are set on the United States.
More than a year after debuting in the Netherlands, Blendle, a micropayment platform, is expanding into Germany today, with more than 100 German and English-language publications signing on as partners.
Blendle collects stories from publishers and lets users then pay for individual articles, no matter where it was originally published. Each publisher sets its own prices and then takes 70 percent of the revenue, with Blendle taking the rest. In the Netherlands, the average article goes for 20 cents, and two-thirds of its users are under 35, the company says.
The site launched in April 2014 in its home country, and last fall The New York Times Co. and Axel Springer invested €3 million in the company. Blendle’s expansion into Germany is its first foray beyond Dutch borders.
“People want to see if this was a Dutch accident or if it is an actual model that can translate to other markets,” Michaël Jarjour, Blendle’s German editor-in-chief, told me.
In the Netherlands, about 400,000 people have signed up with the site. When users join the site they get to try a few free stories before they have to add money to their accounts. About 80,000 people of those Dutch users have actually re-topped their account. (The company won’t say how many articles have actually been paid for.) Blendle also lets users request a refund for any story they purchase.
With a highly educated population of 17 million, the Dutch market is small and has been a hotbed of journalism innovation. Conversely, German is the first language of 95 million people, the most common mother tongue in Europe.
“Germany is daunting for us because it’s a country that’s so much bigger than Holland is,” Alexander Klöpping, Blendle’s cofounder told me.
Blendle is launching with all of Germany’s major publishers. The leading German-language Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung is also on the platform, and there are a handful of English publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. The New York Times and a number of Condé Nast publications, including Vogue, Glamour, GQ, and Wired, are coming soon.