Has Twitter Launched a Payment Feature?

It seems like Twitter – the second largest social networking website, is poised to become some sort of an online shopping platform. On February 11th, Twitter announced its partnership with American Express to release a payment-by-tweet feature. Twitter believes that by becoming an e-commerce website, it will be able to attract more advertising revenues in the future.

This tweet-to-pay feature is not the first collaborative effort by Twitter and American Express. In 2011, both companies came together to launch the “Tweet your way to savings” program to allow the sale of coupons inside tweets. By using these coupon codes, Twitter users were able to obtain discounts and special offers from online vendors. This latest feature allows Twitter users to buy various products by syncing their Amex cards with Twitter and then tweeting a particular hashtag to make the purchase. After a successful purchase confirmation, the product will be shipped to the customer for free.

This concept is not a new one and there are various third party applications available online that allow Twitter users to make purchases from their Twitter stream. The most popular software of this kind is Chirpify that has already been used by various big brands to sell their products on Twitter.

How this feature works

You are probably wondering how this purchase-via-hashtag feature works. Firstly, Twitter users need Amex cards to use this feature. For example, if you want to buy the Amazon Kindle Fire HD on offer, you will have to tweet the specific hashtag associated with it. If you haven’t done this before, you will immediately be asked by @AmexSync to sync your Amex card. After successful syncing, you will receive a confirmation hashtag from Amex and fifteen minutes to confirm the purchase. You need to tweet this hashtag to successfully confirm your purchase. The product will be delivered to you for free via two day shipping.

Various products are already up for grabs including the Amazon Kindle mentioned earlier, Xbox Controller, American Express Gift Card and Urban Zen Bracelet designed by Donna Karan. These items have been on sale since February 13th, 2013, and will be on offer till March 3rd, 2013, or till they are sold out.

What is the initial reaction?

Before vendors can get too excited about this hashtag payment feature, they must keep in mind that this feature is still in the testing phase. Also, the range of products on sale is still very limited. Moreover, the percentage of sales that Twitter will receive has not been disclosed. Experts are still wary about this feature as the Internet is filled with various e-commerce and daily deals websites and there is no added value by making purchases on Twitter. The tweet-to-pay feature has also been compared to Facebook Gifts and many say that it could face a similar fate as that of Facebook Gifts and could fade into obscurity. We can only wait and see if this feature will take off and if Twitter will be more willing to allow similar third party applications as competition in the future.