The Future of Paying Each Other on the Web

Amber Case
10 min readOct 27, 2020

Today’s Web is a shopping mall.

It is populated by struggling creators, relentless advertisements, and dominated by large chains and fast-food services.

There isn’t much room for mid-sized businesses, and customers and workers alike barely interact with each other.

You don’t feel comfort at this mall, all you can feel is annoyance and despair.

Let’s instead imagine the Web as a fertile farmer’s market, full of countless vendors selling local produce.

Independent Markets promote relationships and direct contributions to vendors.

When you make a purchase, you don’t just slide a card and wait for your product. You get to communicate with the person you’re buying from, seeing the transaction from their perspective as well as your own.

There’s no wall between you separating the buyer from the seller, you’re both essential components of the very concept of a market.

In this environment, we’re more likely to explore, to meet new people, to try new products, and sell our own.

This is a healthy market, one with human energy and emotion, which feeds our happiness rather than just feeding off of it.

A healthy market doesn’t depend on you making big purchases, buying items in bulk or by subscription.

It doesn’t force vendors to advertise large brands in between each purchase.

It doesn’t limit you to whatever items might be the most profitable this month.

Its goal is to give you as many options as it can, rather than simply making the highest profit.

In a few weeks, I’ll be co-hosting a conference called the Future of Micropayments where we discuss possibilities like this — the current climate and potential future of micropayments, which may prove to be the missing link between the current internet and one built with its users in mind.

A Human-Sized Web



Amber Case

Design advocate, speaker and author of Calm Technology. Former Research Fellow at MIT Media Lab and Harvard BKC.