Bill Gates announced at Davos today that he had just greenlighted a Microsoft micropayments project primarily to support online transactions.
This will enable content providers to finally charge small currency transactions for individual events or information transfers.
No details are available at the moment but limited information about online API's have been discussed allowing an automated process for these currency transfers.
EG I provide a cartoon website, by you logging into my cartoon website an automatic payment of 1c is deducted from your account and moved to my account. However an API may exist allowing you to purchase or download the cartoon for future reference at 5c.
Whilst a number of these solutions have been offered in the past it's all about critical mass, it about getting the largest number of people registered and putting $10 into their account and then deducting it out to the largest number of content providers.
A number of people though Paypal would have gone down this route but once they were acquired by eBay the mood there has soured along with the number of changes in "user terms and conditions".
In addition whilst Skype is probably the largest micropayment solution at the moment (eg the largest number of people who have loaded money into their 'e'wallet, there have been very very minimal numbers of locations to spend the money and they have all been related to voice related applications.
Most people have missed the next largest micropayment solution in that the last generation of console games (xbox360,PS3) have all had an online currency in order to download additional features or gimmicks.
BTW I don't count Second Life as a micropayment economy, Second Life is nothing but a ponzi scheme as there is no way to actually extract your 'Linden dollars' into hard cash.
A lot of people are going to be reticent to get involved just because it's Microsoft (and to be honest they'll probably screw it up first time around) but guaranteed V2.0 will be a 'killer app' and change the way you access content online.
P.S. Think I didn't miss the fact that this is totally aimed at taking advertising revenue away from Google - nah, just figured it was a given and if you read this far you already worked that out for yourself.