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#CASHTAGS are a thing: you can now bank on Twitter

India's ICICI Bank uses direct messages to fling funds as avian network gets acquisitive

India's ICICI bank has launched a bank-by-Twitter service.

The catchily-named “icicibankpay” service requires users to register a mobile phone number with the Bank and then follow the @ICICIBank Twitter account, in order to receive a one-time password as a direct message. Once the password's been confirmed, users can fire off cashtags like “#Pay <space> @<twitter account of the recipient> <space> <Amount>” to transfer funds. Payees need to be an ICICI customer, with a registered Twitter account.

There's also a “#TopUp <space> <10-digit mobile no.> <space> <OperatorCode> <space> <Amount>” to top up pre-paid mobile phone services and “#ibal” to be advised of an account balance.

ICICI and Twitter are flinging around lifestyle-enhancement epithets to impress the impressiveness of the service on us all.

We've asked Twitter if it gets a cut of the action, or is contemplating similar applications elsewhere.

If the former is correct, the social network has found a new and sorely-needed source of revenue. If the latter is also true, the service just made itself mighty relevant to the next billion internet users, most of whom are expected to use mobile devices to go online. Mobile payment systems like M-Pesa have done very well in a handful of African nations, but haven't gone much further.

If Twitter can turn itself into a transactional and social platform, it could make things very interesting indeed out there in the developing world.

The company certainly looks to be headed in that direction, today announcing the acquisition of an outfit called ZipDial that allows punters to place a " toll-free 'missed call' to a designated phone number [and] then begin receiving inbound content and further engagement on their phone in real time through voice, SMS or an app notification."

Twitter says it's already worked with ZipDial on several campaigns in India. That it now sees the need to acquire the company speaks volumes for its diversify beyond its current products. ®

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