Published 5 January 2013
“Wow, this could take social media to the next level” ~ my initial thoughts when I heard about Chirpify.
So what is it and why did it make me so excited? In short, Chirpify allows people to buy, pay or donate through a simple retweet (or via Instagram). There’s no “enter your name, address and last three letters of your grandmother’s first pet” because it’s linked to your PayPal account.
For example, I sent a test tweet out saying “Fancy buying my photo of Corfe Castle? Reply ‘buy’ for $1 via @Chirpify http://chrp.in/5bc”. If you have a PayPal account and have signed up to Chirpify, then you could just reply to my tweet with “buy” and you would have bought my photo of Corfe Castle. How cool is that? How about retailers using it for a limited allocation of en primeur? Using Twitter for this kind of sale gives users that reason-to-follow that many commercial Twitter accounts lack. As Chirpify says “… no one out there has been doing actual social commerce. If you can’t pay in stream, it’s not social commerce, it’s social advertising.”
Unfortunately, what initially excited me isn’t its biggest attraction. Chirpify promotes its service as being a great way to transfer funds between friends. I liked the idea that we could go out for a bottle of wine, you pick up the bill, then I just send you a tweet for half the cost. How cool would that be?
However, although this is possible, the fees charged by Chirpify and PayPal mean that using Chirpify for this type of transaction doesn’t make financial sense. I can go to my PayPal app and transfer £10 to you right now and you’d receive £10 into your PayPal account; if I send you £10 via Twitter using Chirpify, you’d receive just under £9 [Chirpify charges 5% and PayPal charges 3.4% + $0.30 for payments under £1,500 when done through Chirpify because it considers it a business transaction].
I raised this with Chris Teso, CEO of Chirpify, who said “We realize the PayPal fees are a hindrance at this point. Unfortunately, we cannot use their API to enable you to send your friend money for free. They haven’t opened us up to be able to use their friend-to-friend payment API. If they did we could eliminate the fee.” He did tell me though that “We’re going to enable you to connect your credit card and bank account directly to Chirpify [in addition to a PayPal option]. At this point we’ll effectively cut out PayPal fees and be able to lower our fees as well.” Once they’ve done this, then I think Chirpify will have it nailed.
What I think Chirpify currently works especially well for is:
- Selling/buying stuff: it’s just so damn easy
- Digital-based products (i.e. unlimited items) such as digital photos or music
- Reaching a wider audience
- Fan-based sales: if you already have a large fan base who will buy without needing any research (e.g. Green Day selling their new album)
Chirpify’s intro video
Note: Chirpify currently only works in US$. If you’d like to try Chirpify outside the US, you’ll need to change your PayPal settings to accept dollars. This also means that for you’ll need to use a currency converter to work out how much to send.