From free to a little fee


I have a few web services on my website.
They are used by major financial institutions.
They are like little calculators specific to some complex math only required in finance.

I want to move from free to a little payment (maybe monthly or yearly).

is this really bad ?

Will people be just angry at me because I started asking for money ?

is this an awful business plan ?

and finally, does anybody know of other companies that moved from free to a little fee

Ideas Business Plan

asked Jan 25 '12 at 22:20
13 points
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5 Answers


If it's used by a business and no one else is offering it, they should be happy to pay you rather than create it themselves. To the business, time is money and it's a lot easier to figure for them than an individual who might otherwise spend time watching TV.

If you want to make the transition easier, put the fee on the next version with some added features, and phase out the old version after some time (perhaps adding a 10-30 second delay to get their attention near the end of the phase out).

answered Jan 26 '12 at 00:00
B Mitch
1,342 points
  • thanks for your comment. – Aldo 12 years ago


By "used" by major financial institutions I assume they use you as the back end for their website. To answer your questions a few ore:

How hard is it for them to create these "little" calculators? If its just a matter of them having an internal web developer program for a day moving to a fee seems like a bad idea. They will just say well now it isn't even worth the basic paperwork. Have Charlie code this up...

Also is there any contract in place currently?

I doubt people will be angry if you ask them to pay, especially if its a large financial institution the better question to ask is this service really worth the price you are asking them to pay and the hassle of billing.

A business plan is not just "I will make money off my product" Its much more of the why people will pay for my product. Try to think about that.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 00:04
David Mokon Bond
234 points
  • Thanks a lot. I'like your comments. – Aldo 12 years ago


Develop a better dialogue with your users. There may be simple features for you to add that would benefit them so much they would pay for it. Are these calculators for people doing personal finances or school work? They may not want to pay. If this made my job easier, it would justify the cost.

Major financial institutions are in the habit of paying for software. Their individual employees may not if they don't have to.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 01:19
Jeff O
6,169 points


Just a point when you say "I want to move from free to a little payment"

In many companies if someone wants to purchase something the hassle is the paperwork - not the cash as such.

In other words it might be just as much hassle getting $30 signed by off by the boss and paperwork filled in as $300 - so don't under price.

Of course there are different thresholds (this changes by company, industry and employee type) e.g.

(Don't take too much into these figures, just off the top of my head but you get the idea)

  • Less than $10 an employee might just buy it anyway even if can't get it reimbursed.
  • Less than $1000 might be able to do via expenses
  • Less than $10,000 will need a PO, multiple levels of approval and do via purchasing dept.
  • Greater than $10,000 senior (perhaps board) level approval with detailed plans, competitive tenders etc.

Find the sweet spot - it could well be higher than you think.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 04:11
1,365 points


How many other free calculators are out there? They may just switch. Try adding more advertising, more eye candy etc so it still works but is a bit more annoying.

Meanwhile start offering products they can buy like a personalized web site they logon to, or a desktop app (fast! no clutter!) or phone app, all with premium features and services.

And don't charge a low price. Low prices can be perceived as low value.

answered Jan 26 '12 at 03:03
1,231 points

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