Swipely: Would You Tell the World What You Spend and Why?

BlogHer Original Post

woman reading receipts and holding a credit card

Have you ever longed for a quick and easy way to tell the world what you're spending and where you're spending it? You haven't? Huh. I have. Well maybe not, but I am always looking for new social media tools that will encourage frank discussions about money. I thought Swipely might be the perfect tool.

Swipely, which bills itself as “an online service that turns purchases into conversations,” is celebrating its public launch by introducing badges based on swipes and rewarding early badge earners with freebies including coffee, books and movies.

See why I thought this might be the perfect way for us to have interesting conversations about spending, consumer behavior, and budgets? I think it might become a great place to have those conversations, but first there are some really big hurdles to cross.

First hurdle -- helping people get comfortable with the idea of giving Swipely access to their bank accounts, credit cards or debit cards. Most of the people I talked to balked at the idea. Actually, balked is a bit of an understatement. Blanched and balked might be a better description. There are good reasons to be cautious, like the problem Swipely's competitor Blippy had earlier this year when user's credit card numbers were visible in Google search results.

I threw caution to the wind and joined. I gave Swipely access to one of my bank accounts so that it could pull in my purchases. I also gave Swipely access to my gmail account so that it could scan my inbox and pull in electronic receipts. The initial process took about five minutes, and I'll be honest, it was just a little bit scary for me -- and I'm fearless (some might say reckless) online. If it scared me, how will others feel?

I did not tell Swipely that it could automatically publish my purchases. I approve everything that is published -- but Swipely itself has a record. Is that OK with me? I think it is. But is it going to be OK for the masses? I'm guessing it might not.

I authorized a bunch of transactions. I included some light details about those transactions. I sent them out into the Swipely community. And then I left comments on some of the Swipes posted by the community. That was interesting -- but only just barely. The community is small. There wasn't a whole lot that I found to comment on -- but Swipely just launched to the public. It's new and a little bit scary for the mainstream internet citizen.

I found the Swipely design to be a little drab. Reading the Swipes and the comments doesn't feel compelling. It feels like a basic message board. Or like a really utilitarian blog. Under-styled. Here are some other issues that I had with the site itself:

  • I had trouble figuring out the wishlist functionality, and I couldn't find any explanation of this feature at all. It wasn't until I replied to a comment on a Swipe that I figured it out. (When you comment on someone's swipe, you can add it to your wishlist. You can also click the "Share" link and add to your wishlist. Not intuitive and not clearly explained.)
  • When logged in, I have a tab called "My Swipes" -- when I clicked that today, I got a blank page with the message "You have no new Swipes." Well I know that. I wanted to access my Swipes from yesterday. I can get there on my profile page but it felt like "My Swipes" should have my full Swipe history. I was confused.
  • I'd like to be able to view Swipes in specific categories, but as far as I can tell, I can't. Everything I swipe lands in a category but that category isn't clickable. It should be. I want to see all of the restaurant Swipes. Or all of the tech Swipes. I do not want to see fashion Swipes. I need customization or to be able to drill into more than just Swipes from friends.

I want Swipely to succeed and grow. I want to have real, honest, interesting discussions with people about where I choose to spend my money and where they choose to spend their money. I want to see product reviews and establishment reviews attached to spending info and spending history. I want to get a glimpse at another person's world, through their purchases. Socioeconomic discussions are fascinating, when they're personal.

Big nod to Swipely's Community Manager, Ploipailin, who saw my Chatter/Tweet about Swipely and came over to say hello. I like that in a Community Manager.

Would you use a product like Swipely? Would you be willing to open up your checkbook and show us how much you're spending -- and where you're spending it?

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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