One of Elon Musk’s grand visions for Twitter is to become an “everything” app similar to the WeChat giant in China. Since taking over the most influential social network in the world, Musk has not been quiet about his ideas for Twitter’s future, which includes a built-in platform for payments. This would also be centered around the ability to park capital in money market accounts, shop for goods, and support a creator marketplace in ways that might be similar, or better, than YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook, as examples.
A new report from FT indicates that Twitter is already preparing for that future. The company has begun applying for the regulatory licenses it needs to operate a service that could compete against services like Apple Pay, PayPal, and Venmo. Separately, Twitter is also reportedly designing the software it needs to support payments on the social network.
According to The Financial Times, Elon Musk tapped Esther Crawford to spearhead the payments platform. Crawford is a “fast-rising lieutenant to Musk,” and she’s leading a small team tasked with the payments platform.
This wouldn’t be Musk’s first foray into fintech. He co-founded X.com in 1999, one of the first online banks, and that later became a part of PayPal. And Musk’s Twitter vision calls for a social experience where users would enjoy secure, end-to-end encrypted communication and access to entertainment. Payments and ecommerce features would fit into that experience.
It’s unclear when the Twitter payments platform will launch, or what it’ll be called. The company was already looking at supporting payments in some form, and Twitter set up a Twitter Payments subsidiary last August before Musk took over.
Elon has publicly toyed with putting his legendary X brand to use, so what better app and service than this?
As far as the structure of it, Musk envisions a complex payment processor inside Twitter. He wants users to be able to reward creators directly, buy products without leaving the app, and transfer money to other people. The platform will support fiat transactions primarily, but Musk reportedly wants it built so crypto support could be added later.
The newly-appointed chief executive of Twitter Payments is also the director of product management at Twitter. The exec and her team are reportedly devising a “vault” for storing and protecting user data that Twitter would need to require. As a payment processor, the company must adhere to banking rules. That means Twitter must collect user identification data and report unusual activities to authorities.
Twitter is also working on the regulatory checks it needs to launch the service. The company registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor, The Financial Times reports. Additionally, it’s also applying for state licenses. Twitter hopes to complete US licensing within a year, and then gain similar approvals in international markets.
While many tech companies are secretive about future products, Musk isn’t the usual CEO. He might reveal additional details about the Twitter payments platform in the not-too-distant future, and we’re paying attention.