Slovakia’s news payment system going large in July

Piano Media, the joint web news payment system operating in Slovakia and Slovenia, is preparing to launch in a third, larger market this summer, after recently taking funding for globalisation.

“The third country we are launching in July will be much larger than the two we already have combined,” CEO Tomas Bella told me during our on-stage panel discussion at paidContent 2012.

“That will be where we want to prove this can work in bigger countries as well.”

Piano claimed first-month sales of €40,000 ($50,000) in Slovakia and €26,000 ($33,000) in Slovenia. Several major publishers have placed on average up to a tenth of their web content in to the independent system, which costs €3.90 per month in Slovakia and €4.89 in Slovenia.

There is a question mark over whether Piano can replicate even these small numbers outside its own back yard. But Bellas is betting on operating in six or seven countries by next year, as publishers’ willingness to charge continues growing.

“We are struggling to scale the company because the size of one publisher in this (third) country is the size of all the publishers in the other two countries.

“After we prove this in September and October, we still have a lot of demand from other countries.”

And he explained how some Piano publishers are making about a third of their money from payments now:

“Media which put 20 to 30 percent of their content are at three, four, five percent of conversion to paying users.

“The best ones are getting 30 to 40 percent of their online revenues from this source after one year.”