Step aside, Amazon: your future Twitter feed will also be your online store

12 September 2014

Twitter has begun trials of an in-app payment service whereby users can purchase items at the tap of a button. So far only a small number of people on Android or iOS within the US have access, but plans to expand the trial are already in the mix. Instead of tweeting about products and including a link to a website, companies will be able to put a Buy button right in your feed.

Effectively, Twitter is set to expand from a news feed and celebrity-shaming service to include one of the fastest impulse-buy experiences in the world.

Sites like Amazon will still be useful for specific purchases, but who needs to go to another site when you can buy your shinies without even leaving your feed?

How will it work?

After clicking the Buy button, you will be moved to a details page where you can read more information or choose what model (colour of shirt, etc) you want.

For your first purchase you will be required to enter payment details, contact details and a shipping address. This information is then saved on your Twitter profile and will appear automatically the next time you wish to make a purchase.

If that sounds a bit risky to you then don’t worry. You can delete the information from your Twitter account in your profile settings.

Is it secure?

Online security is at the forefront of public discourse at the moment post-iCloud leaks. As such, adding your credit card details to yet another cloud-based service may not sound safe.

Twitter assures its users that any and all information will be encrypted and stored in a safe location. Your payment details will not be given to any of the manufacturers you buy from, unless permission is specifically given by you.

One minor concern pops up in this paragraph, taken directly from Twitter’s own website:

"We do share information with the seller necessary to fulfill your order, including your name, shipping address and email address. The seller may use this information to send you marketing communications. Check the seller’s privacy policy for more details."

That second sentence is what gives pause. Admit it, you’re not going to bother checking the seller’s privacy policy every time you make a purchase, and Twitter is categorically refusing to take responsibility for any further communications between you and your choice of vendor. Hark, there be spam on the horizon.

The entire appeal of an in-app buying service for Twitter is that it’s impulsive. That means it’s fast and as hassle-free as possible. Neither you nor Twitter want there to be any obstacles between you seeing something, thinking “do want” and throwing your money at the shiny product.

In your speed can you honestly promise yourself that you will only buy from brands or websites that you are already familiar with? The door is open for some dodgy online merchants here. Still, at least they’ll only have access to your contact information and not your credit card details.



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