Chirpify is defying its name. It is moving its brand of transactions past Tweets and allowing users to send money through the social networking website Instagram, a Facebook unit.
"Our big vision is to make this happen throughout the Web," says Chris Teso, Chirpify's founder and chief executive.
In the same way that it sends funds through Twitter, Chirpify will link users' Instagram accounts to PayPal, which processes those transactions.
People who have signed up to Chirpify's service and entered their PayPal and shipping details can go to any items that are being sold via Instagram — tagged with #instasale — and enter the word "buy" in the comments for an instant transaction to take place.
Out of the gate, several celebrities and companies — such as the actress and singer Kat Graham, the tattooer Kat Von D and the hip hop artists Meek Mill and Wale — will use the service to get paid for T-shirt sales and other items.
No doubt consumer demand for electronic payments is difficult to identify.
The service faces high hurdles, partly because of its 4% transaction fees, says Will Hernandez, a content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a Mercator Advisory Group publication. Adoption is still low, and cost and convenience are going to be crucial in building any payments startup's brand.
"I think what's really interesting about the Instagram partnership is the Facebook factor," Hernandez says. "Is this the first step to a Chirpify-Facebook partnership, since the latter owns Instagram? It could very well mean that. Imagine if Chirpify could get just a small percentage of Facebook users to use its service. I'd say Facebook users would be more than willing to give it a shot and that would quickly help Chirpify become more mainstream."
In the past the service has been confined to small-ticket transactions such as T-shirts and music albums. Teso says he hopes Chirpify's integration with Instagram will allow larger brands with bigger followings to move more volume over the alternative payments network.
In the future Chirpify will try to add different payment options besides PayPal.
"So the next big thing is on the payments side, being able to attach a credit card and a bank account directly to Chirpify," Teso says. He says the Portland, Ore., company continues to be in talks with the "three largest suppliers out there" and announcements are soon to come.