Elon Musk’s Ambitious Vision for “Everything App” X: The Next Venmo

Elon Musk’s vision for X, formerly known as Twitter, is ever-changing, but nothing short of bullishly controversial. As detailed in documents recently obtained by Bloomberg, Musk plans to transform the social media platform into an “everything app,” which includes incorporating a comprehensive payments system.

This system aims to rival established players like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App by allowing users to store money, transfer funds, and even make in-store purchases with minimal fees.

Musk’s goal for X is to create a Venmo-like product that not only facilitates peer-to-peer transactions but also supports the purchase of goods and services both online and in physical stores.

This move is critical as X seeks to recover from a significant revenue decline, having reported a nearly 40% drop in revenue during the first six months of 2023 compared to the previous year. The company also incurred a loss of $456 million in Q1 2023.

Despite Musk’s experience with payment systems—being a co-founder of PayPal—the path to establishing X as a payments giant is fraught with challenges. X Payments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of X, has secured money transmitter licenses in 28 states and is in the process of obtaining licenses in all 50 states. However, initial attempts to gain international regulatory approval have been delayed, with plans now focusing on securing a robust domestic foundation before expanding globally.

However, X has already partnered with major payments processors such as Stripe and Adyen and banks with Citibank for its financial operations. These partnerships are crucial for processing credit and debit card transactions.

One of the most significant challenges X faces, nevertheless, is convincing users to adopt its new payments system. This challenge is not just technical but behavioral, as users are already entrenched with existing financial services. Harshita Rawat, a senior payments analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, highlighted this issue, stating, “A person’s relationship with their bank can be very sticky. It is very, very, very hard to get people to switch services.”

X enters a competitive market where giants like Google and Meta have struggled to gain significant traction with their own payments products. According to Rawat, the critical issue is the “chicken and egg problem” of attracting businesses to partner with X Payments without a large user base already in place.

Despite these challenges, Musk remains optimistic about the potential of X Payments. The company plans to offer a digital dashboard that will centralize all payment activities, allowing users to send and receive money, store funds, and view transaction histories. Moreover, X Payments might also introduce banking services, including checking accounts and debit cards, potentially transforming X into a significant player in the financial services sector.

In terms of monetization, while X does not plan to charge significant fees for its payment services initially, it could generate revenue through merchant transaction fees and other banking services. This could also bolster its advertising business by creating a more engaging and transactional platform.

Given Musk’s history with PayPal and his bold vision for X, industry experts are watching closely. As Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, noted, “Musk is trying to create a one-stop shop for everything, and payments are a natural extension. But he’s going to need to convince users that X is more than just a social media app. That’s the real hurdle.”

This venture transpires as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is likely to seek enforcement action that could bar Musk from serving as an officer or director of a public company, as the agency investigates the billionaire’s alleged deliberate violation of securities laws regarding the timely disclosure of his Twitter stock purchases.

Musk disclosed his ownership of Twitter stock 11 days after the regulatory deadline, revealing his stake only after surpassing 9% ownership and receiving an offer to join the company’s board. This delay in disclosure is under scrutiny as it potentially allowed Musk to avoid a rise in Twitter’s share price while he was accumulating his stake.

Information for this briefing was found via Bloomberg and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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