Forget Apple's Ad Money, Musk Has Other Plans to Monetize Twitter

Twitter CEO Elon Musk's big plans to increase the social media giant's revenue sources, which are currently dominated by advertising, are likely to include P2P payments, social commerce, cryptocurrency, remittances and more

By Soumya Duggal • Nov 11, 2022 Originally published Nov 11, 2022

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The latest tussle between American tech giants Twitter and Apple is playing out before the world, with new details emerging every day.

Elon Musk, Twitter's new CEO, recently accused Apple of "hating free speech in America", citing its diminishing advertisements on the micro-blogging platform as evidence. "What's going on here?" he questioned Apple CEO Tim Cook on Twitter before accusing the iPhone-making company of threatening to withhold Twitter from its App store and even urging Apple through a public poll to publish its censorship actions.

Musk's allegations, though, may yet need to be justified given that as per a recent Washington Post report, Apple was Twitter's biggest ad buyer during the first quarter of 2022, spending up to $48 million for the same. Having said so, since the Tesla CEO's month-old takeover of Twitter, the platform has witnessed the departure of many other large advertisers such as Volkswagen, Pfizer, and General Mills.

Given that Musk paid a hefty acquisition cost of $44 billion for loss-making Twitter, it makes sense that he is now targeting maximising revenue. But if advertisers continue to disappoint, what other avenues could he be exploring while the Twitterati obsesses over his current public spats?

According to a new report by financial data company FXC Intelligence, payments are a key part of Musk's ongoing big plans for revamping Twitter. The report identifies four potential areas for him to execute his plans of generating $1.3 billion in payments revenues from the social media platform by 2028: existing P2P payments already made via the platform, including donations, payments and tips to creators (millions of dollars in payments are sent via Twitter every month but the platform has made no money off it so far); social commerce, which is a popular revenue source for other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok (Twitter only has a small project on this in the US and currently doesn't take a cut of the payment); cryptocurrency, which is hugely popular on Twitter and could be used by Musk to allow Twitter users to trade, send or make payments in crypto; remittances (FXC estimates that Twitter users sent $30 billion in remittances in 2021, making this a big potential area for increasing revenue).

Moreover, Musk's recent move to monetise blue-tick verification badges, despite widespread criticism, is another step in the same direction of increasing Twitter's revenue sources. Interestingly, earlier this week, he tweeted slides from his latest company talk for Twitter, encompassing updates/reviews on subjects such as hiring, new sign-ups, advertising, hate speech impressions and others. Among these subjects, the column for 'payments' remains blank. Clearly, Musk is not ready to reveal all his cards on the subject yet but more details can surely be expected to come out in the future.

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