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Summary:

Mobile payments company Ribbon launched its new in-stream payments product for Twitter on Wednesday. But just hours after the company released its news, Twitter just as quickly shut them down.

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photo: GigaOM

Updated at 3:25pm with more details on how Ribbon worked with — or didn’t work with — Twitter on the announcement and why the company’s features got shut down.

Not surprisingly, Twitter doesn’t mess around when it comes to revenue and third-party developers. But this one sure was fast.

This morning we covered the launch of in-stream Twitter payments from Ribbon, the mobile payments company that used improvements to the Twitter Cards technology to allow for credit card payments without having to leave actual tweets. But now less than two hours later, Twitter has shut that feature down.

Ribbon CEO Rashwan wrote in a blog post that the payment features were shut down on Wednesday right after launch:

“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.”

Twitter has not yet responded for a request for comment.

The Cards technology that allows third-party developers to include more visual content like photos, videos, and product details in tweets saw a major overhaul just last week, with Twitter adding to the types of content those developers could share. Since some of the updates, including product details, seemed aimed especially at retailers, the Ribbon payments launch seemed to fit with these changes to the platform.

However, it’s possible that Twitter is okay with an Etsy merchant posting about a product and showing what the item costs to direct people to that external page, but not necessarily with the merchant taking sales on Twitter’s platform, when Twitter isn’t getting a cut of the sale. In February, the company launched a partnership with American Express allowing users to make purchases through hashtags — clearly a Twitter-approved form of commerce.

The controversy again highlights the challenges companies like Twitter and Facebook face when they work with third-party developers. They need those developers creating content and bringing users to the main platform, and so they hold events like the Cards announcement to bolster support.

But as soon as someone uses that technology to encroach on Twitter’s money-making territory? The old tensions come back, and it’s see ya.

Updated at 2:40 PM: Some outlets are reporting that Ribbon did not correctly request access to the Cards technology, requesting access for the video player and then implementing payment transactions instead. In response to those reports, Rashwan told me that Twitter did express concern that users would not immediately understand that the payments were going through Ribbon instead of Twitter itself. Rashwan said Ribbon then added a disclaimer at the bottom of posts in response, specifically stating that they weren’t affiliated with Twitter:

“Twitter has contacted us. We’re actively talking to them today and trying to figure this out. Like any developer on Twitter, we had a hunch that this might happen. However, we’ve had extensive contact with Twitter about what we’re building and finding ways of working together. We’re still excited about the possibilities of what we can build and are looking forward to working with them in the future.”

  1. I want to hear Twitter’s reasoning from this! There’s a huge opportunity for social commerce with using Ribbon.

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  2. Chirpify has been enabling in-stream commerce and payments on Twitter for over a year now. Also in-stream on Instagram and Facebook. http://chirpify.com

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