At the beginning of October, after it was finally decided to go through the procedure for acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk announced his vague plan to transform the social network into ” universal app”. Analysts agreed to designate behind this name the Chinese WeChat model. A social network capable of managing payments, which includes a whole range of services (entertainment, food delivery, VTC, etc.), to become a central place for the expenses of its users.
Since Elon Musk’s tumultuous start as Twitter boss, this ambition never resurfaced. But on Wednesday the New York Times he got his hands on a very interesting document: an application for registration of Twitter with FinCEN, the American agency responsible for monitoring financial movements. Actually, the social network has started the procedures to get legal permission to manage the payments. Asked about the topic in a Twitter Space [une conférence audio sur le réseau social, ndlr] more than an hour addressed to advertisers, Elon Musk gave details of his plans.
Twitter Blue, first rock
In the medium term, Elon Musk mentioned a future where Twitter will allow sending money between users (like Paypal or Lydia), but also transfer from a verified bank account. For entrepreneurs, the new Twitter Blue subscription service, which provides access for 8 dollars to a certification badge and better highlighting of published content (among other advantages) is the first stone of this future. ecosystem.
The company is also reportedly working on a payment system for videos. This move will launch Twitter into a market where popular porn industry platforms such as Onlyfans are mainly located. Consumer video platforms such as Twitch or YouTube offer instead monthly subscription systems that do not close access to content. Subscription cancels support and only gives access to cosmetic benefits and possible replays. Twitter has also copied this feature under the name “Super Follow”, has included a donation system, and the possibility of placing some content under a paywall (such as newsletters).
The new system could allow video creators to generate income – just like on Instagram, YouTube or TikTok. Musk plans to put incentives in place to keep that money on the platform. But before implementing this project, Twitter must make technical adjustments to support longer videos than it currently does.
Twitter with PayPal sauce?
In the long term, Elon Musk hopes to offer banking offers that are attractive enough to encourage users to store the majority of their savings on the platform. It will be a competitor of payment services such as PayPal, Venmo or Lydia, which aim to keep their customers’ cash in their systems, as mentioned Techcrunch. However, fond of cryptocurrencies, the billionaire did not mention this type of payment during his Twitter Space, even though it was really a preparation according to always very good knowledge. The information.
The entrepreneur did not jump into the unknown: in 1999 he participated in the launch of X.com, which would become PayPal. This is why Twitter’s turn towards payment was mentioned by analysts as soon as the takeover offer was signed. It remains to be seen whether this is indeed a true long-term strategy, or a simple stunt.
As a reminder, Musk owed Twitter $13 billion to complete the acquisition, and he now has to pay $1 billion in interest a year. All this, while the economic model of the social network, which relies 90% on advertising, has never generated significant revenue in 13 years of existence.
What about advertisers?
Until the long-term payment strategy works, Twitter must survive. However, Elon Musk faces the first withdrawals of advertisers, worried about the new management of the network, or who will underline (like General Motors) the conflicts of interest of the new leader, owner also by Tesla. In general, the online advertising market is going through a difficult time. Advertisers are concentrating their investments and the social network is only seen as a secondary platform compared to appearing on Google Search, Meta (Facebook) or Amazon (for e-merchants).
The frenzy of creation and destruction displayed by the new leader does not help to restore trust. In recent years, Twitter has tested many of its new features with a small number of users, in order to fine-tune them before deciding whether or not to deploy them to the entire network. The launch of the tweets editing feature, the much talked about ” edit button is a perfect example of this careful approach. This allowed both to see the functionalities in real conditions, while avoiding dangerous diversions in case of a bug, as testers remained in limited numbers.
For his part, Elon Musk decided not to take half measures and to reduce any precautions. Last weekend, its teams deployed and then withdrew the new Twitter Blue, before bringing it back into production starting last night. Similarly, they changed the display of certifications from the old system -“legacy” in Musk’s jargon-, before reverting to the change, then deploying a new method to distinguish between heritage certifications and those from new. Twitter Blue subscription.
” Please note that Twitter is going to do a lot of stupid things in the coming months. We’ll keep what works and change what doesn’t.”is warning Elon Musk in response to user confusion.
The billionaire follows all the traditional rules of the feature deployment process, and he exposes himself to the risks that come with it. Unsurprisingly, Twitter Blue abuses are on the rise: Pranksters are verifying branded accounts, while malicious actors are using them to post scams. Elon Musk has already said that he will ban any attempt at identity theft, but that obviously doesn’t stop anyone from trying it. The billionaire must prove he can bring his new certification system under control at the risk of facing an exodus of advertisers and their budgets.