Twitter makes its own e-commerce play by acquiring payments startup CardSpring

On the same day Facebook started testing its “buy button,” Twitter announced its own foray into the world of e-commerce.

Twitter has acquired CardSpring, a online payments startup that enables publishers to add a variety of promotional offers to their platforms. These include coupons, discounts, loyalty cards and virtual currency programs.

Unlike Facebook, it’s less clear how exactly Twitter will use the CardSpring technology. In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Twitter had little to say about what its online payments strategy would look like, other than it would “help to bring in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users.”

Josh Constine over at TechCrunch speculates that Twitter could use CardSpring to enable card-linked offers

For example, you could get a discount offered in tweet from a merchant that would ask you to enter your credit card number (or perhaps one day pull it from a card you have on fil with Twitter). When you make a purchase at that merchant later, online or offline, CardSpring would recognize your card number and apply the discount. It would then report back to the merchant with analytics on the performance of the offer. These online-to-offline promotions could make Twitter more relevant to local businesses who want to drive brick-and-mortar sales, not just retweets and follows.

With Twitter and Facebook both making big plays in the e-commerce field, we could be seeing the next phase in the evolution of social media channels. Along with social media marketing, brands now need to start along the lines of social media sales.

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