Any email provider can now stop spam efficiently

I have conceived a way to disincentivize email spam, and also financially reward email recipients for their attention. The method allows an email user to easily put a flexible and efficient paywall in front of one or more of the email addresses the user uses.

Imagine Alice can put a $1 (or any other amount she chooses) paywall in front of her email address. Even if she publishes that email address on the internet she will not be spammed. Spammers definitely don’t generate a $1 income per spam mail they send, so it will be unprofitable for spammers to send to Alice, and therefore spammers will not pay Alice and not have their mail delivered to Alice

Alice decides who can send to without paying. This whitelisting can be automated based on some rules Alice chooses. When someone who is not whitelisted tries to send an email to then Alice’s email provider will recognize that a paywall exists for that address, and instead of delivering the email to Alice the email will be “parked” (this can be done in different ways) by Alice’s email provider, and the sender will be sent an auto-reply not much different from an out-of-office reply. The auto-reply informs the sender that the recipient address is protected by a paywall, and informs the sender how to pay. The email sender can simply scan a QR code with her wallet and accept to pay. It is easy to pay with electronic cash. You can see in the video below how a payment can be done and that there is instant delivery if/when a payment is made.

The video was created for a different use case, but the payment will work similarly. The payment information is just delivered to the potential payer by an email auto-reply, and the recipient of the payment is the intended email recipient.

I can put interested email providers in contact with experts in efficient blockchain payments who can deliver the payment part of a solution for email paywalls. They use a blockchain which has stable rules that can scale to an unbounded number of transactions per second. One can currently send a simple transaction for $0.000007 USD, and that is expected to become even cheaper over time.


Because of the low transaction fees the paywall can go so low in price that even the world’s poorest people can use this feature without incurring prohibitive costs. 

Email paywalls will improve the average value of emails, and therefore make it more attractive to use email at an email provider who supports the technology. The solution is backwards compatible in the sense that an email provider who implements this will still be compatible with all other legacy email providers and their users’ client software.  

Any email provider can now implement support for paywalls in their product with or without my help. If you work at an email provider and would like to talk about implementation details then please reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn or

Steffen Sølling

Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration) from Copenhagen Business School, and former Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (in Windows NT and 2000) and Microsoft Trainer, and self-taught in Austrian Economics