This morning, payments startup Ribbon announced support for “in-stream” payments on Twitter.com, allowing users to click a button directly within a tweet in order to make a purchase without having to leave the Twitter.com website. However, it appears that Twitter has already shut this feature down – almost immediately after its public debut.
Ribbon Co-founder Hany Rashwan has confirmed that Twitter has indeed shut them down, and the company is now in the process of trying to contact Twitter to discuss. We’ve also reached out to Twitter with questions, and will update if and when we hear back.
It’s possible that the way Ribbon implemented the in-stream payments using Twitter Cards (via the Player Card model) was a violation of Twitter’s Terms of Service. What’s interesting is how quickly Twitter reacted to the situation, which makes one wonder who might have brought the violation, or issue, to Twitter’s attention.
For background, Ribbon, which is something of a “bit.ly for payments,” previously allowed Twitter users to click and link and be redirected to a separate page offering a simple, one-page checkout experience. But today, it introduced a new, more integrated option for payments, which took advantage of Twitter Card functionality to allow for payment processing directly on Twitter.com.
On an expanded tweet, users could just click a “Buy Now” button, enter their email and credit-card info, then click “Pay.” The entire checkout experience took place on Twitter.com itself – the idea being that by not redirecting you off-site like PayPal does, merchants can increase their conversion rates.
However, now those same tweets no longer offer in-stream checkout, but instead point users to click a “view on web” link taking them to the Ribbon.co checkout page. You can see the new and current (degraded) experiences in the screenshots below.
Update, 1:20 pm PT: Ribbon posted a statement on its blog:
At 11:00 AM PST, we launched the ability to do payments in-stream on Twitter without ever leaving a tweet. Top publications like TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOM, The Next Web and others all wrote about the news. More importantly, hundreds of tweets came in about this news, and people were genuinely excited about using this.
At around 12:24 PM PST, with no heads up, our integration of Twitter Cards was taken down, and now Ribbon links go back to Ribbon.co without the in-stream buying experience.
Before we released this, we made sure to validate our Twitter Card implementation (screenshot below), and all lights were green. We’ve had discussions with Twitter in the past, and are eager to find a way to work together. This is clearly something that’s good for not only Twitter, but also for Twitter users all over the world.
We look forward to seeing what happens in the future regarding this.
Update, 4/11/13, 5:20 PM ET: Though Twitter never provided comment on this, Ribbon has published another blog post on the matter. It appears that in-stream payments are not going to be permitted.
Here’s the full text from Ribbon’s blog:
After a productive conversation with Twitter, we’ve been given access again to Product Cards, and are actively implementing support for Ribbon content. While this isn’t the same in-stream payments we released yesterday, that is still our big vision and one that we’ll actively work on finding a way to enable.
It’s important to note that this in way affects what we’ve already released in our product. We’re still doing in-stream credit card payments on Facebook today, and that’s still very much active.
In addition to that, we have support for putting our links on YouTube. Through our button, we also enable you to embed the whole process on your own website, blog, WordPress, or Tumblr.
One very important new update that was unfortunately over-shadowed yesterday is our pricing change, something we’ve spent a lot of time working on implementing. At 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, we’re now competitive with the biggest players in payments and – unlike any of the competition – can help you sell across more platforms.
On a personal note, the amount of support we’ve received from everybody has been overwhelming. What we have shown yesterday is that our vision and product are extremely well-received. That’s what motivates us every day.
Stay tuned for more from us. This was just the beginning and, if you thought that was cool, wait until what we’re planning to do next!