Developers working on in stream payment apps be warned. Twitter will close off your service if you try to set up shop on their turf without proper authorization as the company has done with a startup called Ribbon.
Ribbon had built a payment system that could process credit cards right from within a tweet, but once the service went live this week, Twitter quickly moved to yank it from availability.
Twitter hasn't said yet why exactly it shut Ribbon down, but the service itself is still in operation. Instead of processing payments inside of Twitter.com, a tweet will simply link to a Ribbon page where the purchase can be made. Hany Rashwan, Ribbon CEO, said the company was not given a heads up before Twitter pulled the plug, but hinted it was known this was a remote possibility to have happen in the first place.
Whether or not Twitter simply wants a cut of every deal is not known but we'd say it's a good bet. Ribbon had been in discussion about its Twitter integration before launch, and one change it made was to add a disclaimer that it wasn't affiliated with Twitter.
Twitter had been concerned customers wouldn't be able to tell whether they were using Ribbon or Twitter to make purchases because the deals were being done inside Twitter.com. Any problems people had with their purchases may have wound up being directed at Twitter, a confusing problem to have, no doubt. The Ribbon service had not been activated for third party sites like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
Other services already do more or less what Ribbon was attempting, but they clearly must have worked out a proper deal with Twitter.
Ribbon used the Twitter Cards technology to implement its ecommerce system
Ribbon worked by showing items for sale, and then opening a new dialog box for transactions when the item was clicked. It's the same mechanism for when an image opens in Twitter, but instead, it's a credit card reader. The company can still use its system on Twitter, but now it must link out to an external website. Etsy, for example, along with other sellers, can do this as well.
Other vendors like Chirpify have done successful integrations on social media sites, and it works on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For future Twitter developers who want to use the company's API to conduct similar transactions, the Ribbon case will likely be the bellwether going forward.
Perhaps there was some part of the API that inadvertently exposed some information Twitter didn't want in there. That's purely speculation at this point, but it's a case where everyone, including Twitter, can learn from the scenario. We fully expect there to more Ribbons and Chirpify's of the world in the future, especially if they are giving a cut to social media sites who allow them. As with this particular case, it's all in the integration, and for Ribbon at least, maybe they did it a little too well.