As mentioned by the Nieman Journalism lab, Google has informed the Newspaper Association of America (see this PDF) that it will be launching an extension of Google Checkout, its competitor to PayPal.
"While currently in the early planning stages, micropayments will be a payment vehicle available to both Google and non-Google properties within the next year"
The idea is to allow payments of small amounts (e.g. pence and cents, not necessarilily pounds and dollars) to be charges for content over time, thus enabling newspapers to charge the user per read. what Google calls its
“vision of a premium content ecosystem”