From yesterday customers of Groupe BPCE, France’s second-largest bank, have been able to transfer money via tweets. Nicolas Chatillon, chief executive of S-Money, BPCE’s mobile payments unit, explained that they are offering simple person-to-person money transfers via Twitter to French consumers, regardless of what bank they use, and without requiring the sender to know the recipient’s banking details. Tweet payments will be managed via the bank’s S-Money service, which links to BPCE’s existing money transfer service. Becoming a little more excited about the whole project, Monsieur Chatillon continued: “The service is instantaneous. [Having approached Twitter over the summer] we are pioneers – we’re trying to make life easier for Twitter users.”
To send money, users (who must have a French bank account and French mobile phone number) post on Twitter with S-Money’s username, the Twitter handle of the person who will receive the money, the amount that will be sent and the hashtag ‘‘envoyer,’’ (or “send” in French). The Twitter message then automatically directs users to BPCE’s money transfer system to complete the transaction. All of the Twitter messages will remain open to the public, allowing anyone to see who has sent money to others on the social network.
Monsieur Chatillon reassured journalists that “we take issues about fraud very seriously” and confirmed that transactions will be sent securely over the bank’s encrypted online systems. To address fears of money laundering, limits have been set: people will only be able to send a maximum of €250 per transaction to others using their Twitter usernames and €500 to charities or crowd-funding campaigns. The service will be free for money transfers between individuals, but the bank will charge companies and charities between 1% and 2% of the transaction value.
Industry experts tell us that this is only the start: Twitter is racing other tech giants Apple and Facebook to get a foothold in new payment services for mobile phones or apps, and in September 2014, Twitter started trials of its own new service – Twitter Buy – to allow people to buy products on its social network. The service embeds a Twitter Buy button inside tweets posted by sellers; early adopters include Burberry, Home Depot and the musicians Pharrell and Megadeth. The question is: will the prospect of Twitter payments (instantaneous payments with minimal CDD…) make MLROs “Happy”, or is it the overture to a “Symphony of Destruction”?