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Monday, 14 June 2010

Is sharing purchasing behaviour a step too far?

A new invitation only Beta was launched last week for Swipely. From the introductory video it looks strikingly similar to Blippy. Both services are essentially set up to track our purchasing behaviour. As a user, you choose the vendors you wish to add to your profile - mostly online currently, think Amazon, EBay and iTunes - then each time you make a credit card purchase that information can be shared online with friends, selected associates or with the entire world if you wish.

Along with location based applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla these online services are the latest attracting ‘why would you want to share that information?’ type attention, just as Facebook and Twitter have in the past. However, arguably, sharing purchase information or location information is more valuable to your friends and followers than updating your Twitter or Facebook profiles.

Let’s face it, you’re either a person who shares or you’re not. Even if you’re a person that shares, it doesn’t mean you have to share everything and all these services allow you to select what you choose to share, or not. The point with Blippy and Swipely is that by sharing your purchasing behaviour you potentially reveal far more about who you are and what your preferences are, than if you share your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. So, if you’re interested in building a personal brand, as a opposed to a public image, these services start to become essential.

From a business perspective, this type of purchasing information becomes invaluable. For years now the large food retailers have built huge levels of data about their customers’ buying habits, and with it they’ve built strong relationship-led businesses. Services such as Blippy and Swipely potentially offer the same level of personalisation to financial services companies. Certainly credit card companies will be hugely interested. However the opportunities for personal finance products are potentially huge and who knows, as the services mature more structured products could start to become contenders.

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

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