I have a theory that people would rather publicly discuss their intimate sexual liaisons than their finances. This is probably due to the fact their sexual antics are less embarrassing than their dirty financial secrets. For this reason I am very interested to see how socialised transaction services like Blippy and Swipely fare. These services give their users the privilege of publishing their expenditures on credit cards and at specific retailers such as iTunes and Amazon.
Now I personally think this is a great idea. As someone who is a huge fan of allowing data to be published, subscribed to and repurposed, the thought of a datafeed of my purchases is a fascinating one. But I also fail to see the point of these services existence, why do I need another social network just to publish what I have bought and talk about it? or am I missing the point? Are they just a layer that then posts the details out to my social networks of choice to share with my existing social graphs? Or do they add extra value? Either way there are issues. Firstly, I am very unlikely to to join a new social network just around buying stuff. Secondly, I would certainly want control over the types of things posted to my existing networks. Spamming my tweetstream with all my credit card purchases is unlikely to win me many fans (although I don’t have many now so it might not be an issue). Blippy does give you full manual control of what gets posted which is a big plus.
And my final, and key, issue with these services is that surely they can be replaced very easily by the retailers and the card companies? iTunes used Facebook connect in conjunction with its 12 days of Xmas Promotion and surely they will soon kiss and make up and join forces on Ping (which presents a real threat to these services). It does not take a great leap of imagination to see them publish my iTunes purchases to Facebook in the same way and cutting out the need for Blippy or Swipely. Amazon for example could also make the purchases I share on my network, affiliate links for me so I earn some money thus giving me greater incentives to share.
The issue of sharing data outwards is the same with the banks/cards providers, in theory it should be easy to set preferences to enable me to share my purchases from specific retailers with specific social networks or to just implement a simple share button so it can be done manually. But getting an API/feed of account transactions is something most banks do not offer at this moment in time (something I have mentioned previously…and will no doubt harp on about again and again).
The other problems these services have is peoples perception of sharing this kind of data. To those that say they will never share this data I say you may not but plenty will, also people already share this data today they just don’t do it via retailers, banks or services like Blippy. They tweet ‘Just bought…‘ or some variant of that sentiment. Also lots of people are using Blippy, sharing around $500,000 of purchases a day.
I think we will see lots more of this financial sharing in the future we already have purchases, we also have savings goals from SmartyPig. How long before we see Mortgage goals (I only have 10 years left to pay off). My stock portfolio just grew by 0.25%. My Kiva microloan just enabled someone to start a new life. Aden unlocked the ‘I just blew my overdraft’ badge.
I think these kinds of shared items are inevitable and they are just more pieces of the database of intentions, as detailed by John Batelle. The use case for all these shared items is still not fully understood and at the moment they are little more than ‘look at me’ or the equivalent of broadcast marketing. That being said they point to wider trends and I believe in the future that those that share the most will benefit the most. On the other hand we all know that those people who overshare and fill their Twitter feeds with more noise than signal from automated services are quickly unfollowed. Are we getting to the point where we need dual twitter feeds? One designed for automated outputs that can be picked up by other automated processes? This might work well for all those tweeting devices we will have when the internet of things takes off.
I am watching this space with great interest. I don’t think it will be long before the sharing of financial goals, activities and interests is commonplace. When that happens it is also inevitable that sexual and financial taboos will meet head on and we will see people share how much they spent at Coco de Mer, proudly on their Facebook pages and Tweet streams.