July 3, 2014
Recently, few people spotted buy now buttons in tweets from the shopping app Fancy. Some of them even tried to click them. The buttons could only be seen on Twitter's mobile app, and were not working when Re/code (who broke the news) tested them out.
"Tapping on them didn't do anything," the report notes. "But Re/code did speak to someone who said that tapping on the button earlier on Monday did lead to a checkout page opening up within the Twitter app. Re/code could not replicate that experience."
So whats the big deal?
Apparently the news source that reported it first is known for authentic inside stories. Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg (both WSJ, AllthingD fame) led Re/Code is probably the fastest growing Tech news site in the world. Their ability to bring breaking news first to the market is giving bigger and more established news brands a run for their money in this tech-news-hungry world.
The Catch - You could ask me that there are a few companies like Chirpify and Ribbon who were claiming to do something like this already.
Lets understand the difference. When you see a buy button in a tweet and tap on it and the checkout happens within the twitter app you would be doing something called In-stream payments (on social media). Twitter has not allowed that in the past as well. Why? maybe because they are coming up with their own platform for commerce and payments. Maybe Fancy was given that to experiment with it. Or maybe not.
But Chirpify is different. Chirpify uses Twitter to enable commerce but not In-Stream payments in twitter app. Here is what happened - A brand displays an advertisement on TV or online with instructions to #Buy #Lays, for example. Then a customer simply posts that campaign tag to their social network and Chirpify processes the order through credit and debit cards, PayPal and ACH payments, charging a flat fee of 2.9%. The payment system is preconfigured with the user’s account at Chirpify.
What might have actually happened on those Fancy tweets?
Remember the company Ribbon and the Buy buttons they brought through the integration with Twitter Cards? That was very similar to what Re/Code is reporting. And thats what is In-stream payments on twitter. But...
In April 2013, when Ribbon (SFO startup) grabbed eyeballs as it launched an in-stream payment process for Twitter, hell broke loose for them. In about couple of hours, Twitter put an end to it, without specifying any concrete reasons. Earlier in the year, Ribbon had managed 1.6 Mn funding, and also offering an in-stream payment option for Facebook.
Its sad when companies create walled gardens. This is what has happened in payments space so many times (Carriers vs Google Wallet). In-stream payments are a great thing. Imagine in your tweeter feed, a regular customized array of products with pictures appear with prices. It knows what you like, and what you were searching for today. You just click on a pic and through twitter cards, it takes you to the app which has your credentials and processes the payments. And that’s about it. A simple and effective way to do commerce.