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Is Blippy fun and helpful or simply TMI?

New Web site allows people to share their credit card transactions with friends.

By Karen Datko Dec 24, 2009 5:00PM

Just in time for last-minute Christmas shoppers, Blippy has gone public -- allowing new users to share information about their credit card purchases with their Blippy friends.

 

Blippy began issuing public invitations earlier this week and after one day had tracked more than $1 million in sales. Rafe’s Radar calls it the “Twitter of personal finance.”

 

For instance, if you’ve signed up, your friends can learn that you just bought “The Joy of Cooking” at Amazon, as well as "The Joy of Sex." 

 

As you can tell, we’re really struggling to see the upside of this, so we turned to others for more perspective.

 

Here are some pluses that have been widely discussed:

 

Accountability. If your friends know that you’re deep in debt, full disclosure of your spending might boost your restraint. Still making that twice-daily trip to Starbucks? You’re busted.

 

Sharing. Your friends can find out what truly interests you. That could come in handy when it’s gift-giving time. They can also alert you when you’ve paid too much. Or they can laugh at -- and comment on -- your choices. How much fun is that? (It's advisable to designate one of your credit cards as your Blippy card and make private purchases with the others.)

At this stage, the actual items you buy won’t be displayed unless you get them at a handful of locations, including Amazon and iTunes. Otherwise, people will just see the name of the store and how much you spent. But, MG Siegler said at Tech Crunch, “you can see that eventually this is where they’d probably like to go. Just imagine the potential affiliate fees alone!”

 

Also, Siegler says, you can share all of your credit card purchases or limit the disclosure to particular stores, like iTunes, Netflix or GoDaddy. Rafe Needleman says you can pause Blippy if you want to keep a particular purchase secret.

 

Track your spending without a lot of work -- and without making it public, if you so choose -- and compare it with others'. “Eventually you'll be able to see if you're paying more than other people for Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey, I gather, and find deals on items you like or purchase regularly. Mint, by contrast, shows you comparative data by category and vendor, but not by item,” Needleman said. “That's the vision, at any rate.”

 

Paranoid Asteroid raised some privacy concerns. For instance, do you want everyone to know where you’ve been? “If you stop to get gas while leaving your abusive spouse, he knows the route you’re taking,” she wrote.

 

Apparently privacy concerns will be addressed. Needleman wrote:

Future privacy features in Blippy may include the capability to lock out certain vendors from credit card data collection, and possibly an approval step for transactions before they're made public. Already you can set up your account as either open or protected, meaning, as on Twitter, you can let anyone follow you or lock it down to just those you approve.

Would you be comfortable sharing your spending information with others? Co-founder Philip Kaplan addressed that issue in an interview with Liz Gannes at GigaOM.

There is definitely a hump that people need to get over to the point that people get comfortable sharing this information, but then you wonder why we all have this feeling that this should be private. I guess our parents told us not to share this? Nobody really knows why.

Related reading:

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