Cash does that. So do credit cards.
Subscription systems that only work for each seller differently and separately don’t do that. Sure, they give the seller scale, but they don’t give the buyer scale.
This is why I don’t expect the next revolution in payments to come from the sellers’ side of the marketplace. They haven’t come up with it yet. And I doubt they can, because—without exception, far as I know—they always come up with approaches that trap customers inside their silos. This at most scales for them, but it doesn’t for the marketplace. Meaning for customers.
Simply put, we need tools and services that give the customer standard and common ways to lead in her dance with sellers. We have that in the offline world with such innovations as the wallet and the handshake. We have the equivalent of neither in the online world yet.
So, to your question, while the current models being tried by Medium and The Guardian aren’t bad, but also aren’t original. Because both are their own proprietary subscription methods, they are silo’d to those publishers alone.
Nearly every seller in a threatened business is trying the same right now. (Put another way, they all want to be Netflix or The New York Times. Good luck with that when we reach Peak Subscription†.)
Here’s an approach that can work: EmanciPay, which the VRM development community thought up a decade ago. It’s still out there, waiting for its time to be right. Here is an EmanciPay approach I vetted for newspapers in 2009.
Shall we call the future into session now?
† I haven’t written about peak subscription yet, but this post about “peak phone” makes a similar point.