The filing, which has been sent to the US Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), was submitted on 4 November, with the application stating that Twitter plans to conduct money services in the United States and several of its international territories.
— John Paul Koning (@jp_koning) November 9, 2022
The move has been expected for some time. Mr Musk has made allusions to Twitter’s development into a ‘super app’, similar to WeChat in China. A “super app” that does video chats, messaging, streaming and payments - making it ubiquitous in the country.
In October, Mr Musk tweeted that “buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app”, although did not explain further what that could mean.
Mr Musk said he has a “grander vision” for what X.com, an online bank he started early in his career that eventually became part of PayPal, could have been. “Obviously that could be started from scratch, but I think Twitter would help accelerate that by three to five years,” Mr Musk said in August. “So it’s kind of something that I thought would be quite useful for a long time. I know what to do.”
Mr Musk also has a long and well-known history with cryptocurrency, to the extent that he has performed skits on Saturday Night Live as the ‘Dogefather’. After doing so, the meme-inspired cryptocurrency rose from $0.25 to $0.30 in less than 15 minutes.
When asked by one of his followers if he was “working on a doge solution for Twitter or working with devs for a doge payment system on Twitter”, Mr Musk replied the sideways-looking eyes emoji.
“Even though it was created as a silly joke, dogecoin is actually better suited for transactions,” Mr Musk told Time magazine in 2021. “It is slightly inflationary... but that’s actually good as it encourages people to spend rather than to hoard it as a store of value.”
However, whether Mr Musk’s aims can be realised remains to be seen; the billionaire is known for making lofty promises, but has often failed to deliver them by his deadlines.
Google, Snap, Meta, Uber and others have tried to develop super apps, but none have been adopted as widely as those in China - not least because people already have a number of apps at their disposal to handle shopping, communicating and payments.
“Old habits are hard to break, and people in the U.S. are used to using different apps for different activities," said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, who also noted that super apps would likely suck up more personal data at a time when trust in social platforms has deteriorated significantly.