from the his-cars-catch-fire dept
Yes, I’m well are of Betteridge’s Law, and yes, this headline is designed to deliberately obey it.
It’s no surprise that Elon’s grand vision for exTwitter was to try to turn it into a financial services everything app. He’s been talking about such an app for years. It’s what he wanted his original X.com to become, before it merged with Confinity, and which was later renamed PayPal (after a palace coup in which Elon was booted). Elon has always seemed to think that the focus on PayPal was a mistake and he’s never quite given up on his original idea for X.
He’s mentioned a few times during the course of taking over Twitter that it was part of his vision to create this kind of “everything app” with payments as central element. There were reports from the beginning of this year about how Twitter was seeking various licenses to be a financial services firm, and the company has been slowly collecting the proper licenses.
But the latest is that at an “all hands” meeting last week at exTwitter, he apparently told the few remaining exTwitter employees that he wanted them to launch a service for people by the end of next year that would replace all their financial dealings:
“When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,” Musk said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by The Verge. “If it involves money. It’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”
X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the company sees this becoming a “full opportunity” in 2024. “It would blow my mind if we don’t have that rolled out by the end of next year,” Musk said.
I’m going to suggest there’s a very decent likelihood that Elon’s mind is going to be blown, as this seems unlikely to be rolled out by the end of 2024. I mean, Elon is somewhat famous for stupidly overpromising delivery dates and then either never delivering, or delivering years after the fact.
And doing full on financial services including “money or securities or whatever” is not exactly the easiest thing in the world if you don’t want to end up facing a long, long time in jail (as Sam Bankman-Fried is currently learning).
While some might point to Elon’s exploding rockets and fire-catching cars as reasons to be skeptical of his claims of controlling all your finances, I’ll just remind people that even before Elon took over he was promising fully end-to-end encrypted DMs, which was an actual good idea (but also one that both Twitter and Meta have worked on for years, and both have noted is way, way, way trickier than it seems at first if you want to do it right).
When Musk ordered a few of the remaining engineers at the company to rush out encrypted DMs by a specific deadline, they launched a weak approximation of it, which they plastered with warnings that it was not, in fact, actually end-to-end encrypted DMs. And since then, we’ve basically heard exactly nothing about any plans to ever actually bring truly end-to-end encrypted DMs online.
Given that, it would not surprise me at all if exTwitter launches some sort of extremely sketchy, half-assed, limited payments effort at some point next year. But it will likely be about as trustworthy as the promises in my emails from Nigerian princes.
But, of course, as with the Nigerian prince emails, some people will fall for it. But I can’t see the population of absolutely gullible fools being large enough to help fill the gaping void that used to be Twitter’s revenue streams in the pre-Musk era.