Pay by Tweet

In the latest of a series of steps towards monetizing twitter more effectively, the microblogging platform has entered into an arrangement with American Express that, if successful, will allow users to hook their payment details up to Twitter and “pay by tweet”. To get the ball rolling, American Express are offering $25 AMEX gift cards for $15 by using the hastag #BuyAmexGiftCard25. The full product listing is expected to be released later today.

In their ongoing quest to strengthen the tie between exposure via twitter and eventual purchases, the idea that twitter could itself become an ecommerce platform presents a robust business case. Not only could it represent a direct revenue generator were twitter to take a cut of the purchases, but along with its recent purchase of BlueFin labs, it could also be used to entice a greater advertising spend by business as they themselves demonstrate the commercial value of a tweet.

And from the point of view of the business selling the products it also makes perfect sense; not only have you offered a more direct route to purchase for twitter users, but each transaction doubles as a free advertisement with other users viewing the transaction hashtags.

So will it fly?

Twitters’ greatest strength is its speed. However, a review of the twitter/Amex payment process suggests the experience will be anything but speedy. Users must first link their card up to twitter via an app, then locate the companies favourites section to see which products are on sale, then send a tweet with the appropriate hashtag, then wait for a confirmation tweet from Amex and finally, assuming they haven’t given up the will to live, tweet a follow up hashtag for the sale to be processed.

Only time will tell if this represents a half-baked gimmick or the future of online transactions. It’s fair to say, I think, that in its current format (given the limited products available and convoluted sales process) it is unlikely to take off immediately, but in principle everything stacks up so I wouldn’t be surprised if future iterations do have wings.

Dan