Twitter is close to letting its users purchase products directly through the social network and is nearing a deal with payments startup Stripe to help it accept credit card payments from its users, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The deal, which is in the final stages but not yet complete, will be the surest sign that the social network is finally serious about making it easier for brands, retailers or manufacturers to sell stuff directly on Twitter.
Stripe spokeswoman Kelly Sims declined to comment. Twitter spokesman Will Stickney declined to comment.
The company has had a history of dabbling in e-commerce in the past, often through partnerships with outside companies. In February of last year, Twitter hooked up with American Express to let AmEx card holders use Twitter to buy specific products if they synced their credit card with Twitter. A similar deal with Starbucks required users to sync their Starbucks accounts with Twitter before tweeting at a specific Twitter account to buy a friend a Starbucks gift card.
But Twitter has never fully embraced the commerce side of its business, according to two people familiar with the matter, often building and then shelving commerce-related products. A “tweet to send money to others” product was built, as well as other versions of “tweet to buy,” according to sources, but never shipped. Internally, sources said, support for commerce-related programs has waxed and waned over the years.
But the Stripe deal is just the beginning. Twitter has shown a renewed interest in pursuing commerce as a revenue strategy. In August, Twitter named former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard its new head of commerce.
Stripe, backed with $40 million in investments from Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst and others, lets companies start accepting payments on websites and mobile apps within a day via its APIs, which has been an attractive sell to developers. The company’s customers include ride-sharing service Lyft, e-commerce store platform Shopify and grocery-delivery startup Instacart.
It’s not clear how exactly on-Twitter purchases will work or whether physical or digital products will be the primary focus. Theoretically, the real-time nature of the platform could make for some interesting tie-ins with TV shows, concerts, sports events and other live happenings.
Or another likely scenario: Twitter could integrate Stripe’s payment processing into its “Cards” technology, allowing retailers to accept purchases from inside the tweets themselves.