Social Networking… For Your Credit Card?

Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but likely not. Swipely is a new online service very similar to Twitter. It tracks your credit card purchases throughout the day. Imagine if you head to Best Buy and snag a brand spanking new iPod touch. On Swipely, it will announce to the world – or more specifically, your followers, we hope – that “[Insert Your Name Here] just bought an iPod touch.”

So, how does the service pull it off, technically speaking? When you first sign up for Swipely, you connect your credit card account to your Swipely’s, and, as you buy your favorite things throughout the day, Swipely will tell everyone exactly what you’ve purchased. How do you feel about the obvious privacy issues inherent in such a networking tool? Furthermore, how would one really benefit from such a tool, especially as a consumer? We can see how Swipely would benefit producers, however, in gathering new metrics for their credit card target markets.

Another obvious concern – and certainly, a vital one – involves the security of Swipely’s network, and – logically – access to your sensitive credit card information. Swipely has explicitly stated, however, that they use third party security companies for protecting your credit card account’s information, so it won’t be displayed to anyone, just little tweets to the world of what you’re purchasing.

The principle concept behind Swipely, as best as we can see it, is to give the people in your life conversation material. The credit card purchases you make may reveal similarities or vast differences of taste between you and your friends; then again, certain guilty pleasure could allow for absolute ridicule. Very social in nature, but financially oriented, it will spark discussions you might not even think of having, but enjoy much anyway, and let loved ones keep up with you during your day.

Conversely, many consumers have already complained about the service, and their privacy concerns are certainly understandable. Many bloggers, also, have been gabbing all about Swipely, and they just don’t get the idea of broadcasting credit card purchases – even if it’s too familiar acquaintances.  Of course, there’s always the other predictable use of Swipely: parents monitoring their teenagers’ credit card use for immediate spending-habit reports, instead of waiting for monthly credit card bill.