Chirpify, a payments firm that uses Twitter and whose clients include hip hop label Rhymesayers, aims to make paying others as simple as Tweeting.
"Bands or musicians, businesses or anyone can create a listing that goes out over Twitter of something that's for sale, and a buyer can reply on Twitter and make that purchase," says Chris Teso, Chirpify founder and CEO.
Portland, Ore.-based Chirpify links users' Twitter and PayPal accounts. It just received 1.3 million in Series A financing from Voyager Capital; investor Geoff Entress; Andy Liu, CEO of BuddyTV; Rudy Gadre, a former Facebook executive; and HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes.
Chirpify is targeting the space mined by such operations as Square Inc., Intuit Inc.’s GoPayment and Bump from Bump Technologies using mobile phones and other digital devices to enable small-business transactions, political donations and charitable contributions. Another new firm, Belgium-based Paycento, also enables firms to accept payments through Twitter and Facebook.
To use Chirpify, users sign up and authorize PayPal, which manages the back end processing for the transactions, to receive and send funds to and from the user's PayPal account. Once that authorization is set, Chirpify has programmed specific commands–pay, buy, donate and gimme–as triggers for financial transactions.
Once the user enters the command, Chirpify takes the funds is taken from the users' PayPal account and sends the value through a direct message or an email with a download link for verification and record keeping.
"These are social transactions, and it's frictionless; you don't have to leave Twitter," Teso says.
One possible use is political campaigns, which have become a hot spot for new mobile payments, with Square and other firms using payment readers attached to smartphones to enable payments at public events (see story).
Teso says his company is approaching campaigns to use Chirpify in the same way, only with a direct payment via a tweet.
"Think of Barack Obama sending out a Tweet to a million followers, who can reply 'donate' to send in a donation," he says. Beyond political campaigns, the firm also hopes to partner with banks to offer the service as a payments value add, Teso says.
At Rhymesayers, rappers and other acts signed by the independent Minneapolis-based hip hop label sell music and other merchandise to consumers. Chirpify also is behind "Twitter Commerce for Musicians," a platform that gives artists a Chirpify dashboard to which they can upload music and tweet a link. Consumers can acquire music by replying to the Tweet with the word "buy."
Chirpify has several options, including a basic commerce service that carries a 4% commission; an enterprise service with a variable price; a 2% flat fee for direct payments; and a donor service that includes variable options to collect information on donor, which would enable compliance with campaign finance laws in the case of political donations. Security is in line with PayPal's protocols.
Adil Moussa, a senior analyst at Aite, says the concept of using social networks to enable payments is still new. There's not a lot of activity right now, but he contends that should change given the natural, and corporate, fit between the payments industry and social networks.
"Everybody has been waiting for Facebook to develop their own [service],” he says. “We will be seeing Twitter as an avenue for payments; the co-founder of Twitter is also the co-founder of Square (Jack Dorsey). It only makes sense to put those two together."
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