Blippy.com Shares Intimate Financial Details

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The Internet start-up Blippy.com keeps track of someone's spending habits online, much like Twitter keeps track of random thoughts. Users register a credit card with the site, and every transaction on that card is displayed to friends on Blippy.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

All right. Now, while Facebook might ask what's on your mind, imagine a Web site that asks: What are you buying?

That's our last word in business today.

Blippy.com is a new Web site where you register your credit card number, and every purchase you make with that card will be posted online.

From member station KALW, Martina Castro has some of the buzz on Blippy.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Colbert Report")

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT (Host, "The Colbert Report"): This is more exciting than going through old receipts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: It's going through new receipts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTINA CASTRO: The new startup makes good fodder for Stephen Colbert, but Blippy is no joke. The founders have $1.6 million in venture capital. Blippy cofounder Philip Kaplan says the business uses are obvious.

Mr. PHILIP KAPLAN (Cofounder, Blippy.com): Businesses really like Blippy because it's kind of the ultimate in word-of-mouth marketing. I buy something, and I tell all my friends about it.

CASTRO: Kaplan says getting used to it wasnt easy, even for him at first. But now, its no different than posting family photos on Facebook. And what he had for lunch really isn't such a big deal.

Mr. KAPLAN: Nineteen dollars and seventy cents at Szechuan Cafe.

Mr. RYAN CALO (Consumer Privacy Project, Stanford Center for Internet and Society): He spent $407.45 at Banana Republic. Wow.

CASTRO: That's Ryan Calo, reading from Kaplan's Blippy account. Calo runs the Consumer Privacy Project at Stanford Center for Internet and Society. He says this isn't just good fun.

Mr. CALO: We're increasingly living in this society where our information's out there and its being used, but we dont quite know how and why.

CASTRO: Calo notes that Blippy's privacy policy reserves the right to use account information for marketing. The company won't go into the specifics of its business model, but it does point out you can use a different credit card if you want to keep certain purchases private.

For NPR News, I'm Martina Castro in San Francisco.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: All right. You can find MORNING EDITION on Twitter. We dont post our receipts, but we do give you information about the program and links to recommended reading and more @MORNINGEDITION, or @nprinskeep.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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