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Definition: micropayment


An e-commerce transaction of very low value. A micropayment may refer to charging just a few cents for a transaction such as an information lookup. It may also refer to aggregating several small-value purchases and charging a credit card at the end of the day or some other period for the total amount.

When the Web exploded in the late 1990s, it was envisioned that people would make micropayments for individual lookups and other information. After Wikipedia debuted along with other information sources, that perspective never came to fruition.

Layer 2 Blockchains
Micropayments are one of the reasons blockchains have been augmented with Layer 2 chains, which among other reasons aggregate small payments and summarize them on Ethereum or a similar "main" chain (see Layer 2 blockchain).

Micropayments and Nanopayments
Whereas micropayments can handle sub-dollar amounts, nanopayments might be under one cent. Both micro and nanopayments are being reborn due to blockchain-based platforms in decentralized finance (see DeFi and Cirus platform). See microcommerce.