Twitter to Add Bitcoin Lightning Tips, NFT Authentication

Tipping, including with bitcoin, will be live on iOS immediately.

Sep 23, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 23, 2021 at 6:26 p.m. UTC

Twitter users on Apple’s iOS will now be able to connect third-party tipping services to their profile on the social media site. That will include the ability to link both Bitcoin addresses and Lightning Network addresses.

Twitter also announced today that it will add non-fungible token (NFT) verification features to the platform, a key step in the evolution of the booming trend for unique digital art, particularly as social media avatars. No specific timeline was laid out for the feature, which remains in development.

The “Tips” feature will roll out on Twitter’s iOS app today and will come to Android systems “soon,” company representatives said in a press call.

The feature is part of a broader push to increase the options for Twitter users with large followings to monetize their content. The announcement didn’t address whether or when the functionality will extend to Twitter on the web.

The tipping feature will rely entirely on third-party payments services like Jack Mallers’ Strike app. Twitter is “not in the flow of funds” and won’t take a percentage of tipping proceeds, the company said. Different payments options or tipping services will be available to users in different parts of the world.

The exception, according to Esther Crawford, who works in Twitter’s product department, will be Bitcoin and Lightning options, which will be available to all Twitter users worldwide.

“There’s this great opportunity for us to choose global, barrier-less options,” Crawford said during the call. “And Bitcoin represents one of the best options. We know not everyone around the world transacts with bitcoin yet, but … we think it’s one of the better solutions.”

Dorsey’s continued bitcoin push

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had foreshadowed the move, writing in June that it was “only a matter of time” before Twitter integrated Lightning payments in some way. The Lightning Network is a “second layer” technology that allows users to make faster and lower-fee Bitcoin transactions, which is likely crucial to the viability of sending small-dollar tips in BTC. Dorsey, a longtime supporter of Lightning, invested in Lightning Labs’ $2.5 million seed funding round in 2018.

Twitter’s addition of NFT verification is arguably just as significant as the new tipping feature. Over the past six months, the use of NFTs as avatars on the platform has exploded, with even celebrities like Jay-Z displaying multimillion-dollar CryptoPunks. A system for verifying the ownership and provenance of NFTs will likely add fuel to that practice and, in turn, reinforce the NFT ecosystem more broadly.

The Twitter tipping tool is compatible with Jack Mallers' Strike app. (Twitter)

Other initiatives

Twitter today also announced plans for more automated content oversight, more options for users to control their experience on the site and a “Spaces Fund” to give an “initial boost” to creators who want to use enhanced audio features and pursue long-term monetization on Twitter.

No updates were provided about the radical Bluesky project, a small Twitter-funded group of open-source developers that aims to develop decentralized social network technology.

DISCLOSURE

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Zack Seward is CoinDesk's deputy global news editor. He holds BTC, ETH, UNI, ATOM and a couple NFTs above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1,000.