March 26, 2009 - Twitter Payments in 140 Characters or Less

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

I recently returned from a new event called "Launchup" here in Utah, where several startups were enabled to pitch their business in front of an audience, get critiqued, and share with the world an idea. After the presentations, the audience was given the opportunity to each pitch their own products, each with just 30 seconds to share their idea. I was amazed to find that with just 30 seconds one product in particular, really stood out, with little to no explanation necessary. reads simplicity across the board. The product, which aims to allow you to easily send payments to your friends on Twitter, accomplishes that with no need to sign up, and doesn't even need your credit card to make that happen. The service uses Amazon Payment Services to send and receive payments, which means all you need is an Amazon account. So basically anyone who has ever purchased something on Amazon is already set up to use this.

I was reminded of the product when its co-founder, >Jeremy Raines (@jraines, from Park City, Utah), sent me $1.40 via a Tweet, "@jesse twitpay $1.40 to check out :-)". I do have to admit it's one of the coolest (and most simple) pitches I have ever received! I went to, gave them my Twitter username, they then sent me a pin number via DM which claimed my Twitter account - no login or authorization at all necessary! Inside my account, I just had to associate my Amazon Payments account (a total of 3 clicks) with TwitPay, and I had the money I was promised.

To send a payment to anyone, no account is necessary (until you want to actually pay the person). Simply send the words "@username twitpay $dollar_amount for reason", username being your Twitter screen name, $dollar_amount being the actual amount to send to the user, and reason being the reason for why you are sending the money. I tried this myself sending Louis Gray my 2 cents with "@louisgray twitpay $.02 for your love of bacon". He just needs to log into TwitPay and approve the payment through Amazon now to receive his $.02.

The Potential

About a year ago I worked with Phil Burns and several others to start a service such as this. The potential was screaming at us - with Social Networks and cell phones, we now had the potential to completely get rid of cash in peoples' pockets. The idea never really took off for us, but I'm glad to see others embracing it.

Up until now there has been nothing really to replace the cash, the small amounts of money, which we keep in our pockets for those moments we only need to pay small amounts of money. Imagine going to a vending machine and being able to Tweet a particular Twitter account listed on the vending machine with your payment. Imagine making a bet with a friend and being able to Tweet them their winnings. Or what if you could "Tweet" your waitress their Tip?

TwitPay may have just seriously challenged services such as Paypal's business models with this innovative new way to send payments. The service is plain, simple, 140 characters or less, Social, and requires no account to use. Social Payments have yet to be breached, but I believe may have just breached it with the ideal Twitter payment environment. Are we at the beginning of the end for the need of actual cash in our pockets?

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.