Elon Musk considering crypto payments for Twitter in push to build ‘everything app’

Three months after Elon Musk took over Twitter, the social media platform is laying the groundwork to introduce payment tools, according to a report from the Financial Times.

Jan 30, 2023 - 09:19
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Elon Musk considering crypto payments for Twitter in push to build ‘everything app’
Elon Musk considering crypto payments for Twitter in push to build ‘everything app’

Three months after Elon Musk took over Twitter, the social media platform is laying the groundwork to introduce payment tools, according to a report from the Financial Times.  

With Twitter reportedly hemorrhaging millions of dollars a day, Musk has been searching for new sources of revenue, with payments offering a potential path forward. The billionaire entrepreneur known for electric cars and rockets got his start with PayPal, after all.

Musk floated payments for Twitter in a pitch deck that he presented to investors in May, saying Twitter could generate as much as $1.3 billion by 2028. Currently, the platform only generates around $15 million annually from payment tools like tipping and shopping.

One possible expansion for Twitter would be crypto payments, an area where the company already has experience. The platform’s previous CEO, Jack Dorsey, is a crypto enthusiast. In September 2021, Twitter partnered with the payments company Strike to launch a Bitcoin tipping feature just two months before Dorsey stepped down.

Under Musk’s reign, Twitter has been expanding a push into payments. According to the FT, the company is applying for regulatory licenses to operate across the U.S., as well as designing software to introduce payment functionality. This includes registering with the U.S. Treasury as a payments processor and applying for state licenses, with the goal of completing the process within a year.  

While Musk said that fiat currency is the platform’s first priority, he has told people familiar with the plan that crypto functionality also could be added.

Adding payment tools would play into Musk’s long-term vision of building Twitter into a super app—he’s used the term “everything app”—such as WeChat, which includes everything from messaging to shopping to PayPal-like features.

In October, after Musk assumed the CEO position at Twitter, Caitlin Long, the founder and CEO of crypto-focused Custodia Bank, told Fortune that Musk’s long-term goal is to disrupt the payments industry.

“He’s been trying to disintermediate ACH his whole career,” she said, speaking about the electronic transfer system used by banks.

Musk previously dabbled with crypto at Tesla, with the company buying $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and announcing a plan to accept the cryptocurrency as a payment method in February 2021. Musk also described himself as a “supporter of Bitcoin” during a talk on the social media site Clubhouse.

His opinion soured, with Tesla offloading 75% of its Bitcoin holdings amid a crypto downturn in mid-2022. Despite his shift, Twitter’s push into payments might rekindle Musk’s interest in the technology. When Tesla released its fourth-quarter earnings last week, it was still holding almost 10,000 Bitcoins—worth about $230 million at today’s price.

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