Twitter’s move into the payments field is about to accelerate dramatically.
And it’s very likely to include cryptocurrency.
Elon Musk made that clear in his all-hands virtual meeting with employees on Thursday (June 16).
Asked about integrating payments into the social media giant’s platform, Musk said, “money is fundamentally digital at this point and has been for a while,” the New York Times reported. “It would make sense to integrate payments into Twitter, so it’s easy to send money back and forth.”
Musk previously said he’d want to see $15 million in revenue from payments in 2023 — a drop in the bucket — growing to $1.3 billion by 2028.
It’s a topic that Musk — who made $170 million by selling PayPal, which he founded with Peter Thiel — has discussed before in his public courtship and feud with Twitter.
In May, he said he wanted to grow Twitter into a super-app modeled on Chinese social media giant WeChat, adding features like chat, video messaging, Facebook-like news feeds and other social media capabilities. A central feature would be payments, Musk told the All-In podcast, noting that the addition of payments capability built WeChat into a powerhouse.
“If you’re in China, you kind of live on WeChat,” he said. “It does everything — sort of like Twitter, plus PayPal, plus a whole bunch of things, and all rolled into one, with a great interface.”
That requires a “high-trust situation,” in which “payments, whether it’s crypto or fiat, can make a lot of sense,” he said.
That trust part could be an interesting part of the Twitter payments equation. While Musk has in the past spoken of the need to authenticate Twitter users — bots are a personal nemesis that he has used to put the acquisition on hold for months — he said at today’s Q&A session that people shouldn’t have to use their real names and that the use of pseudonyms has a place in expressing political opinions.
While the biggest issue in this regard could be his determination to open the platform back up to much of the speech it has banned over the past two years, payments could open up know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) regulatory requirements. An obvious solution would be to require authentication to use payment features.
Crypto’s Big Day
With Musk at the helm (though probably not as CEO), Twitter will be owned by someone who is both deeply knowledgeable about the payments industry and a strong supporter of crypto payments. It could be a big expansion of crypto’s use as a currency.
Twitter’s been moving slowly into the payments business since last year when it added a tipping feature — including bitcoin last year and ether this year. That expanded dramatically in April when payments processor Stripe announced that it had added cryptocurrency payments capability using Circle’s USDC stablecoin to its Stripe Connect platform, with Twitter as its first customer.
Still, that is focused on in-app payments to Twitter-based “creators, freelancers, sellers and solopreneurs,” Stripe said. However, it also included cross-border payment capability, meaning USDC payments could be sent anywhere in near-real time and for a very little cost.
On the crypto payments front, there will likely be several winners.
A more aggressive and central focus on payments could be very good news for Circle, whose USD Coin has grown dramatically in the past 18 months. It started 2021 with a market capitalization of about $4 billion. That’s now $54.5 billion, making it the fourth-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, ether, and rival Tether’s USDT.
USDT, which launched in 2014, had $20 billion stablecoins in the market at the beginning of 2021 and a number that’s quadrupled to $80 billion. But USDC has grown more than 1,300% in that time, suggesting that it’s taken a large market share from Tether.
Along with bitcoin, ether and USDC, it’s highly likely that Twitter will soon be supporting Dogecoin, the memecoin that grew from an obscure project that started as a joke into a $7.5 billion cryptocurrency used by some crypto payment processors and companies like AMC and GameStop based almost entirely on Musk’s support and fandom — as expressed via market-moving tweets. It is currently the 10th largest crypto by market cap.
Sign up here for daily updates on all of PYMNTS’ Crypto coverage.