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Twitter Shuts Off Ribbon After Launch Of In-Stream Payments
Twitter’s contentious relationship with developers took another turn today when it shut down a new product from Ribbon that enabled in-tweet payments for products, services and more.
Ribbon announced the new product at 11:00 am PT today and immediately captured a fair amount of buzz in tech and marketing circles. Less than 90 minutes later, co-founder and CEO Hany Rashwan wrote an update announcing that Twitter had already shut the product down:
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 implantation (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.
Ribbon is a payment processor that already integrates with Facebook posts, YouTube and on web pages. Today’s launch of Twitter integration uses Twitter Cards to let users buy and sell without leaving Twitter, as shown on this image from Ribbon’s announcement:
Twitter has had a stormy relationship with developers over the past year, especially, but earned a lot of goodwill last week when it hosted a private developer-only event to announce three new Twitter Cards that open the door to several new content types. One of those is a Product card that, as I noted, doesn’t appear to support a “Buy Now” button inside a tweet.
Just a couple months ago, Twitter launched a partnership with American Express that made it possible to buy things via tweets — but that uses hashtags, not payment/purchase buttons.
We’ve reached out to Twitter for more information and will update this post if we get a reply.
Postscript: No reply from Twitter yet, but there are reports that Ribbon may not have been playing fairly with its new in-stream payment tool. AllThingsD quotes a source in suggesting that Ribbon got approval for Twitter’s Video Card, then programmed the payment/purchase in after the fact. Eli Langer of CNBC tweeted the same via a source: “Source: @Ribbon requested Player Card access for video previews & then hacked transaction model together w/o permission. Twitter killed it.” If that’s correct, Twitter’s swift move makes perfect sense.
Postscript #2, April 11: In a new blog post, Ribbon says it’s spoken with Twitter and has regained its access to Twitter Cards, but isn’t resurrecting the in-stream payment feature:
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.