Musk’s vision for Twitter includes authenticated payments with user fees

The news: Elon Musk reiterated his ambition to integrate payments into Twitter as the maverick billionaire businessman detailed his plans for the social media site during a Twitter all-hands meeting on Thursday.

In a leaked transcript of the meeting published by Vox, Musk said that:

  • Money is “fundamentally digital at this point and has been for a while.”
  • It would “make sense to integrate payments into Twitter so it’s easy to send money back and forth.”
  • He also heaped praise on Chinese social media and mobile payments app WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok as possible examples of the direction he’d like to take Twitter.

His investor pitch to fund the acquisition involved generating as much as $15 million from a Twitter payments business in 2023.

Here’s how it could work:

  • Authentication: Musk suggested a system where users would have to be authenticated by the company, like getting a blue verified badge, to use payments. Users could keep their profiles anonymous but would have to share their real details with Twitter to be authenticated for payments.
  • Fees: He said payments-based authentication could cost “three bucks a month.” This would play into his plans to grow annual revenues at Twitter to $26.4 billion by 2028, jumping from $5 billion in 2021.
  • Embedding: Musk said PayPal, the company he helped build, had done a “great job” on payments, perhaps indicating he will seek partnerships with external payment firms to integrate their tech rather than building a new system from the ground up.
  • Super app status: The business magnate has hinted that he would turn the platform into a super app but also said that an app like this doesn’t necessarily need to be adapted from Twitter; it could be something new, built from scratch.

The big takeaway: Musk could still try to back out of the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter after requesting more information on the platform’s nonhuman accounts, but the recent all-hands provides valuable insight into what he envisages for payments on Twitter.

If he can harness both the Big Tech firm’s vast user base and its ties to commerce, then payments on the site could attract new users who view it as a potential income generator—boosting Twitter’s revenues.

Whatever form Twitter payments take, Musk sees them as a key feature of the platform’s future.