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Now You Send Payments Through Twitter

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Talk about shortening up your "to do" list.

Dwolla, an online payment services company, has announced this week that you can now send cash payments via Twitter.

The process is pretty simple, and should intrigue the 500 million Twitter users tweeting away these days, as well as the 150,000 new users Twitter attracts every day.

All a user needs to do is this: Tweet the Twitter handle of your cash recipient and amount you're transmitting and add "#dwolla." The money is deposited into the recipient's Dwolla account in real time. That's pretty much it -- you just sent (for example) $140 to your best friend in 140 words or less. (You need to visit dwollalabs.com and sign into your Twitter account to sign up for the service).

"This makes it easy to send money to friends, nonprofits or even merchants without having to login to the Dwolla mobile app," Dwolla says in a Wednesday blog post.

Dwolla doesn't warn users about which payments are OK to make (lost bets, small charitable contributions, loans to friends) or which may not be (mortgage payments, credit card payments and car payments, which may attract identity fraud thieves and let everyone know how much you are paying on your mortgage).

The difference is this: As a regular Twitter message, a Dwolla payment is public. Banks and lenders don't allow Twitter payments specifically for that "public access" reason -- banks don't want your Twitter followers knowing how much you owe them anymore than you do. A Twitter payment would constitute a huge security breach for a big-time creditor.

So don't expect to make those kinds of payments with Dwolla; instead, view Dwolla as a shorthand version of PayPal, which users generally use to loan money to family or friends or for small-business owners to get money from clients. PayPal is highly secure, and only you and the other party know how much money is going to whom and when that payment will occur.

Dwolla may yet be a big hit with Tweeters who want to save time sending small amounts of cash to friends, family or even a charity, and don't mind their Twitter followers knowing about it.

There's a middle ground in Chirpify, which allows users to send money via Twitter more discreetly. As Chirpify describes it, the service "allows you to pay a friend by mentioning them directly. This way, the payment won't fill up your followers' timelines."

With Dwolla and Chirpify, sending cash in short Twitter bursts is the latest breakthrough social media breakthrough -- and the latest shot at banks and credit card companies.

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