Digital content transactions through e-commerce will grow tremendous in the coming years. Well-designed electronic payment schemes and high-quality digital contents are two critical successful factors. This paper proposes an incentive-based electronic payment scheme, which can ensure both important properties of fair exchange and customer anonymity in e-commerce transactions and enhance authors' motivation to create digital contents. The proposed payment scheme is based on cryptographic techniques. Besides, it adopts a mechanism called "the apportionment contract of sales revenue", which records payees' apportionment amount. The bank can immediately apportion the sales revenue according to this contract when customers complete payments. By scrupulous analyses, the proposed payment scheme can achieve fair exchange, customer anonymity, and payment security. This paper also compares the proposed payment scheme to related schemes. The comparison result shows that the proposed payment scheme has the best characteristics on the following viewpoints: incentive-based payment, fair exchange, customer anonymity, the denomination of payment token, and the number of payment token for a transaction. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.