Twitter has taken further steps towards allowing payments on its platform. The company is reportedly seeking regulatory licenses across the United States and is working on developing the necessary software for the feature.
The rollout of the platform’s upcoming payments system is reportedly being led by Twitter Director of Product Management Esther Crawford. She is reportedly working with a small team to develop the necessary architecture that would enable payments on Twitter, as well as a vault that would store and protect user data. The information was related by the Financial Times, citing two sources reportedly familiar with Twitter’s plans.
Elon Musk has shared some ideas for fintech services on Twitter. These include peer-to-peer transactions and high-yield savings accounts, among others. The features are part of a broader plan to create an all-in-one app that combines messaging, payments, and commerce. Musk has referenced the creation of “X,” an “Everything App,” in previous posts on Twitter. The CEO has also praised China’s WeChat, an “everything app” that features a suite of services.
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
While payments over the internet seem like a departure for Musk, who is most well-known today for his work on electric vehicles and space travel with Tesla and SpaceX, the online payments industry is actually familiar ground for the Twitter CEO. Musk has a background in finance, having co-founded X.com in 1999. X.com is an early online bank that would later become part of PayPal, one of the most prominent players in the payments industry today.
Twitter’s foray into the payments industry appears to have been in development for some time now. Regulatory filings indicate that the company had registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor in November. Twitter has reportedly started the process of obtaining necessary state licenses for the online payments service as well. One of the FT’s sources noted that Twitter is looking to complete US licensing within a year. After this, Twitter would reportedly seek to expand its payments services to other countries.
FXC Intelligence, a payments market data group, has noted that many Twitter users are already sharing links to third-party payment options in their tweets or on their account profiles. The number of users who engage in this practice is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Lucy Ingham, the head of content at FXC Intelligence, stated that Twitter’s expansion into the payments industry makes sense.
“Twitter is already a platform on which payments happen, so it’s kind of a no-brainer,” Ingham said. Critics, however, have advised caution since Twitter would have to compete in the US against other popular online payment systems such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle, all of which have already established a notable user base in the country.