Not even a week after stories started to appear that Facebook's mobile messenger app appears to be set to enter the world of payments, more news has emerged of Twitter's interest in the market. A buy now button was already introduced to Twitter last month for certain entities and now, French Twitter users can initiate peer-to-peer payments. It's a collaboration between Twitter Inc and France's largest bank, Groupe BPCE. "S-Money (BPCE's mobile division) offers Twitter users in France a new way to send each other money, irrespective of their bank and without having to enter the beneficiary's bank details, with a simple tweet," said Nicolas Chatillon, Chief Executive of S-Money.
There is some logic to Social Media sites exploring the payments market (apart from the obvious fact they already have enormously large user-bases which they would like to generate more revenue from). If social media is all about sharing who you are and what you're up to: in essence your identity and behaviour, then perhaps social media can be a powerful platform for payments. Used in the right way, identity can improve the security and the experience of making payments. With identity, payments can be more ubiquitous across platforms and take advantage of loyalty and reward schemes in a more seamless way.
But despite that, it strikes me as odd. Social media is an open platform to share. Payments personally is not something I want to share.
Of course, it's almost certain that neither Facebook or Twitter would force users to publicly share their ongoing transactions and at this stage we're unclear of the scale of their ambition. Nevertheless, I don't want platforms that specialise in sharing, handling my payments. What I get out of social media, is entertainment: funny remarks, interesting links and updates on the coming and goings of my friends. Not once have I been on Facebook or Twitter and thought: "you know the one thing missing here is the ability to make a payment."
And I struggle to ever imagine that's what I would want from the platforms I use for light entertainment to keep me busy on the train. Payments are a serious business: I trust Facebook and Twitter to share a picture from my holiday, not book it.
By Matthew Taylor 14th October 2014
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