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#Forwhy: American Express lets you pay by tweet

Taking your cash is bad enough... now vendor gets free ads too?

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Credit card company American Express has launched a service that lets customers buy things using Twitter.

The new Card Sync service from American Express syncs customers' credit cards to their Twitter accounts and allows Twits to burn the plastic from the comfort of of their Twitter app.

"You can turn a hashtag into more than just a conversation - you can turn it into a trigger that actually can spark commerce," says Joel Lunenfeld, VP of global brand strategy at Twitter. American Express currently punts out offers to its followers on Twitter, but the new system will actually let users buy things.

But tweets are not going to replace plastic credit cards any time soon.

The buy-with-a-tweet deal extends to only a limited number of deals from merchants who have been OK'ed by American Express. The approved deals are listed on the American Express Twitter account's Favourites tab. To buy the thing, the customer has to reply to a merchant and include a particular hashtag in their response for example #AmexCelticsOffer for a ticket deal from the Boston Celtics basketball team. The buyer receives a response and then has to tweet a confirmation.

American Express will process the payment, and a delivery partner will package off the product and deliver it free two days later.

With the focus on offers, it's more like Groupon than a replacement for cards - a promotional exercise rather than a tool for day-to-day commerce.

But the idea of turning Twitter into a store front, and proving to Twitter-shy brands that tweets can be a source of cash as well as a source of unwanted customer feedback will be valuable to both Twitter and American Express. It also gives users an incentive to follow brands.

The new pay-by-tweet service is being launched with some gadget offers – Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet, an Xbox console package and a Sony camera will be available.

Following the recent hack of Twitter, there are concerns that the new deal will open up Twitter users' bank accounts as well as their online reputations to Twitter but American Express assures users that there will be swift redress from Customer Services if unauthorised payments are made.

Here's the vid of the cleancut 20-something guy in an impossibly clean flat buying some flowers and a digital camera for his hot girlfriend using the service, before striding through the sunshine down the sparkling clean pavement to pick up the plant. Yes, it reminds us of us, too...

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