Elon Musk has announced plans for a payments feature to be introduced on Twitter, similar to the PayPal system that he played a part in at the turn of the millennium. The move is expected to open up new revenue streams for Twitter, as Musk aims to generate more income for the social media platform.
Musk has previously stated that he wants ‘financial technology’ to play a part in Twitter’s offering as he looks to expand the services the platform offers. This new system is expected to feature peer-to-peer transactions, savings accounts and the ability to add debit cards. Musk reportedly wants to build an “everything app” that involves posting, messaging, commerce and payments. The New York Times has previously reported that Musk outlined these ideas in May 2022 during a pitch to purchase the platform, stating that these features would help generate revenue of around $1.3 billion for the company.
The move would further align Twitter closer to social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, which also offer features such as commerce, with its Facebook Marketplace feature. New revenue streams are required by Musk for Twitter, after the advertising arm of the business reportedly lost money following the billionaire’s purchase of the platform last year.
This change would put the social media platform in direct competition with platforms such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Musk has experience in this market, having founded ‘x.com’ in 1998, which was subsequently bought out by PayPal in 2000. He joined the board at PayPal in the move, but left shortly after in 2001.
As a result of the proposals, Twitter has been applying for a number of licences in the US to allow the platform to process payments. It is not yet known if the outcome of these applications will be accepted. The move has caused some concern amongst commentators and users alike as to how much data Twitter will have access to if the system was launched. There has already been one serious data breach during Musk’s charge in time of the platform.
Some users may be encouraged by Musk’s previous experience in the payment platform industry. PayPal is used around the world and is trusted for its speed and security. Despite this, it’s not known if use of the service would be compulsory or optional, and how much access regular Twitter users would be granted to all of the features proposed.
Whilst it is good to see Twitter diversify from its current product, which is what was needed, it is not a feature that the platform was crying out for. Not to mention any worries about the platform financially exploiting its users, as well as worries about data security, won't be allayed by these proposals.