Elon Musk Eyes Twitter Payments: ‘Fiat First, Crypto Later’

Twitter’s director of product management is reportedly designing the software needed to implement Musk’s payments vision with a small team

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Blockworks exclusive art by Axel Rangel

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Billionaire Elon Musk is set to execute his payments-related vision for Twitter as he works on revamping the company’s revenue streams. 

The Financial Times reported Monday that the microblogging site has begun applying for the required regulatory licenses in the US and is shaping the software needed to implement the payments plan.

Musk reportedly wants the system to be “fiat, first and foremost” so that crypto payments can be added at a later point. He intends to create an “everything app,” one that is expected to be similar to China’s WeChat, for a suite of services like peer-to-peer payments, social networking and e-commerce shopping. 

This wouldn’t be the first time Musk would be working on payments-related tech. He is hailed as the pioneer of the digital payments industry for starting financial services company X.com in 1999, which later became PayPal.

One of Twitter’s most influential leaders, Esther Crawford, has begun to draw up specifics of what would be required to roll out Musk’s vision, the FT said. Musk recently appointed Crawford, who is director of product management at the company, as the chief of Twitter Payments, a subsidiary set up in August before he became CEO.

Her compact team is working fast on aspects of the plan, including developing a vault to store and protect user data gathered in the process, FT said, citing two people familiar with the matter. Blockworks has reached out for comment on the matter.

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Twitter plans to generate $15 million from the payments business this year, which is expected to balloon to $1.3 billion by 2028, the New York Times reported, citing a pitch deck. Musk specifically wants advertising to contribute just 45% of Twitter’s total revenue, down from about 90% in 2020.

Musk discussed integrating digital payments and wiping out crypto-related scams at his first Twitter all-hands meeting in June last year.

“I think it would make sense to integrate payments into Twitter so that it’s easy to send money back and forth…currency as well as crypto,” he said then.

Twitter has already kick-started regulatory licenses for its payments business. In November, the company filed paperwork with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to become a money service business. Now, it’s reportedly in the process of applying to some state licenses that are required for launch.

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Musk is among the most public and influential figures in the crypto space, with observers noting that his impact on the market can’t be underestimated.

His electric car manufacturer was one of the first corporates to buy bitcoin in 2021. Despite selling 75% of its bitcoin holdings in 2022, Tesla chose to hold on to its remaining bitcoin in the fourth quarter.


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