Crypto Firms Fight to Supply Payments Tech to Twitter

Twitter, Cryptocurrency, investment

There’s widespread agreement that Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into an all-in-one super app that includes payments. Let the free-for-all begin.

While Musk, who was a co-founder of PayPal and knows the payments business well, can certainly build his own payments tool for his social media firm, plenty of existing cryptocurrency payment technology providers firms would love that business. And they’re all eager to make their pitch.

The super app is an idea Musk has modeled on China’s WeChat, which does everything from social media, chat and video messaging to banking and payments. Along with China’s other payment giant, AliPay, it controls more than 90% of the digital payments market.

While digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay have struggled to gain traction in the United States, Musk has said WeChat is something on which Chinese consumers basically live their lives.

Block It Out

Ark Invest Founder Cathie Woods floated Block, the payments company run by Twitter’s founder and former CEO, Jack Dorsey.

“Remember [Musk] started in the payments industry,” Woods said at the Web Summit conference in Portugal Wednesday (Nov. 2), CNBC reported. “He and Jack Dorsey working together, I think, could turn this into a super app.”

Referring to Musk’s fascination with a super app, Woods said in the report that Twitter could become a digital wallet.

“You do all your banking there, maybe there’s something they’re doing with Cash App,” Block’s online payments app, Woods, who has invested in Musk’s Twitter buyout, told CNBC. “You do all your shopping there, you get your loans there — it’s your bank branch in a pocket. I think they can get this done.”

Dorsey’s Block has gotten an outsize percent of its revenue from the sale of bitcoin and was the first major mainstream payments app to support cryptocurrency.

Dorsey, however, is a bitcoin “maximalist” meaning he believes bitcoin is the best and only payments cryptocurrency that will survive. Musk is a big booster of dogecoin and has already spoken of it as a great payments currency.

While she didn’t mention it, Woods is a big investor in and booster of crypto exchange Coinbase, which also has a crypto payments arm, Coinbase Pay.

Another Investor

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao just invested $500 million Twitter.

Speaking of his PayPal investment at a trade show Wednesday night, Zhao pointed out that his company is not just far and away the largest crypto exchange. It also has a crypto payments technology division which pushed into the Latin American market in September.

“We already have a solution that does that: Binance Pay,” Zhao said, according to crypto industry news outlet Benzinga.

“It’s very easy to support a dozen, a couple of hundred cryptocurrencies as payments,” Zhao said, adding that Binance Pay handles the crypto-to-fiat-currency exchange for merchants at “no extra charge.”

Already There

A third obvious source of crypto payments tech for Twitter is the company that does it already, Strike.

CEO Jack Mallers aimed his comments at Musk’s comments about instituting an $8 monthly charge for Twitter Blue identity verification via the blue check mark, but the implication is clear.

Noting that Strike “partnered with Twitter to enable… tips” on the Bitcoin Lightning Network, Mallers said on Twitter that payments for Twitter Blue “can be implemented in days given we already have a partnership.”

Strike even offers “the ability to settle these payments in USD, so there is no extra lift for Twitter,” he said, adding that these transactions settle and are reported like a card payment.

One problem is that with its bitcoin payments focus, Strike doesn’t support Musk’s favorite payment token, dogecoin.

Finally, you can’t have this discussion without another obvious candidate, and the one that Musk knows best, PayPal, which launched crypto payments in March 2021.

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