Paypal is a monster – the platform has around 100 million users worldwide, and in 2009 saw revenue of $2.23 billion over $71 billion in total payment volume.
And moving funds from one person to another is so simple – all it really takes is an email, but even that’s a bit of an illusion. The money doesn’t actually go anywhere. It’s still right there, on Paypal, unless you physically transfer it to your bank.
And Paypal is now so dominant, so huge, that many analysts expect it to dwarf it’s parent company within a few years. And it isn’t even classified as a bank in the United States.
So: why couldn’t Twitter blatantly steal mimic this business model?
You’d load up funds onto your Twitter account, and move cash from one person to another via direct message. “You’ve got funds!”, Twitter would (shamelessly) announce.
Retail websites would incorporate a ‘pay with Twitter’ button. At first, you’d be hesitant, but over time, and much like Paypal, it would become a standard. And because of public demand, even eBay would be forced to comply.
Retail stores would let you pay with your mobile phone – simply scan your Twitter account at the checkout, and you’re charged accordingly.
Twitter has twice Paypal’s user base. With the right people running this, the right attitude and the right amount of chutzpah, they could rapidly become a viable alternative to what is a near-monopolistic online payment system.
And that little share they took from every transaction – which, naturally, would undercut Paypal by some distance – would give them a much-needed (and entirely viable) revenue stream.
They could even call it TweetPal. After all, you know what Picasso said about great artists. If you’re going to imitate something, might as well take it all the way to the bank.