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Twitter Goes Full Crypto With Bitcoin Tips and a NFT Avatar Tool

Twitter is going big into crypto starting today. 

Twitter is making two major updates that will make cryptocurrency integral to its product, with more likely to come. Tipping on Twitter is expanding globally today to everyone on Apple’s iOS, and there will now be an option to tip in Bitcoin. Second, Twitter is going to create a way for its users to authenticate the fact that he or she owns the NFT that they use for their profile picture.

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation,” Kayvon Beykpour, head of consumer product at Twitter, said today during a video press conference. “We’re focusing on turning followers into fans, and fans into funds.”

Twitter released tipping in May, but the number of people who could use it has been limited. Everyone will be able to send and receive tips starting today, on iOS, though the team plans to roll out on Android soon.

Bitcoin Tipping

Most importantly, there will be an option to tip creators in Bitcoin. 

“There are two billion people around the world who don’t use traditional banking services,” said Esther Crawford, who leads creator monetization at Twitter. “Cryptocurrency, like Twitter, operates without global barriers, so we are excited to incorporate it into our products.”

Tipping works through partnerships with third party applications, and Twitter doesn’t take a cut of tips. Once tips are enabled, creators can specify how they want to be tipped, so they would need to specify a third-party service that supports Bitcoin in order for a fan to be able to tip in Bitcoin.

When an external app is used it will lead to a sort of pop-up or web-based experience that’s outside of Twitter’s control. That said, Crawford said that Twitter will also be supporting the Lightning Network for tips. The Lightning Network is a second layer on Bitcoin that allows for faster, cheaper transactions.

Lightning Invoice

Lightning will be supported through an integration with the app Strike. Strike is made by Zap, Inc., the company founded by Jack Mallers, who announced El Salvador’s intention to adopt Bitcoin as an official means of payment earlier this year. 

“That’s a little bit more integrated,” Crawford explained. Tips using Lightning will generate a Lightning invoice, and then when the payment is completed, the creator can see a notification and offer a personalized reply, if they like, she explained. 

“There’s this great opportunity for us to choose global, barrierless solutions, and bitcoin represents one of the best options,” Crawford said. 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is also the CEO of the payments company, Square, which has already integrated Bitcoin on its Cash app. Dorsey is known as a big Bitcoin fan and an investor in Lightning Labs. He previewed Twitter’s move to incorporate Bitcoin earlier this year.

This is likely not the end of the road for Bitcoin on Twitter.

Monetization Features

“There’s a lot of internal enthusiasm and dialogue into how we can integrate cryptocurrency into different monetization features,” Crawford said. There was no news about incorporating any other cryptocurrencies today.

When Dorsey sold off his first tweet for almost $3M, something seems to have clicked.

Twitter has been supportive of the decentralized web for some time, with Dorsey announcing an initiative to decentralize Twitter in 2019, called Blue Sky.

“We want to help creators participate in an evolving decentralized internet directly on Twitter,” Crawford said. 

The one update they had on that front should be one of great interest to many people who have gotten into crypto with NFTs.

Yacht Club Mania

Twitter is creating a way to authenticate the fact that the NFT someone uses for their profile photo is one that they actually own. It’s developing a user-friendly way to prove this ownership with a cryptocurrency wallet, and that authentication will be shown somehow on the profile image, perhaps with a badge or a modified shape for the avatar.

“We’re still figuring out what the visual affordance looks like,” Crawford said. 

Changing a user’s Twitter avatar to the image of an NFT they owned became so big this summer that The New Yorker actually covered it at the height of Bored Apes Yacht Club mania. The ability to seamlessly prove that a Twitter user’s ownership of that NFT is real is likely to make such NFTs even more sought after.

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A Bored Ape

Crawford said they are also working on ways to surface metadata about the NFT, as well as information about its history.

The exact timeline for the NFT authentication feature was not announced. On some level, Twitter teased its interest in NFTs this summer when it released a few of its own.

There is more to come for crypto at Twitter.

“It is still early days for digital currencies, but we think that that’s the future so we are going in that direction by adding those features,” Crawford said.