Is Medium bent on stopping its African writers from getting rich?

David Ofiare
4 min readApr 1, 2019

It was an indeed faithful afternoon that had me scrolling through my published posts on medium. I had not the slightest inkling of what manner of water I was about to baptized with.

Skimming through one of these posts prompted me to a little notification bubble above it. It made me smile. It read the opposite of what would make a designer / design writer like me smile.

This notification read: “This story is not part of the metered paywall. Learn more”. This could only mean positive things.

  1. There is a paywall
  2. The paywall is Medium’s and it is metered (meaning the payee would be paid upon the instance of some kind of count; the count had to be claps, Again, I was excited)
  3. This paywall was live on so many posts already and as the notification read, I wasn’t a part of it. I had to be.

I decided to learn more.

Medium followed me up with some ‘propaganda’ text and a dedicated landing page, and in a couple of seconds, I was in on one of the most crucial steps of the process — accepting terms. I did that as fast as I could.

The problem

Setting up payments (Stripe all through)

I was so fast, I was now setting up payments and within the snap of a finger, I noticed none of the options applied to the description of A basic African design-writer ready to put out words for coins whereas the same applied for an American of the same status.

A screenshot from the Medium Partner Program FAQ

Quoting a copy from medium:

We believe the current media model is broken and it’s time for a better system — designed for writers and readers … a place where you can share ideas and get rewarded for the value they create.

Those three options betrayed that copy for the large chunk of design-writers domiciled in developing countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa. It also betrayed the larger chunk of developers, storytellers and freelance writers putting out work on Medium on a daily from diverse African countries.

That alone is depressing — that a platform as structured as Medium wouldn't be as inclusive as expected.

Setting up payments had only three options that all led to Stripe. Apparently, since I was supposed to be paid for every write-up I made on some technical topic in the course of my career based on claps and reach, I had to put in my card details somewhere for the resulting funds to be able to get to me.

The Result

If medium says this much beautifully,

Screenshot from the Medium Partner Program page

words like:

“we believe ideas are worth something”

That in itself means ideas of African Origin are not worth something (as much), as we have to go through an extremely questionable process to achieve the same goal that it would take the countries mentioned on the stripe platform less than a hair’s length of a second to achieve.

That is Bias! And I am respectfully calling that out with this publication.

Non-inclusiveness on a large scale

Qui, Non Afrique: Stripe Homepage

A continent of about 1.216billion people alone in population, with Nigeria being ranked as the 4th fastest growing developer community in the world according to this article, massive numbers like these translate to a proportionate number of writers putting out hacks and studies on Medium to the community (where this is just as statistic for developers alone). For designers and other writer streams, this would be massive all through Africa.

Medium has to rethink its payment system for its Partner Program as fast as possible, otherwise it begins to look as bad as companies like PayPal that strategically zone out African countries in the accessibility of their services.

The world is fast changing.

Thank you for taking your time to read this article. Be sure to drop a few comments below.



David Ofiare

A Nigerian Brand and Product designer, big on technology, the world's greatest concepts, futurism and complex ideas about simple things.