Top-10 Facebook Money & Banking Applications

 

After six short weeks, there are 48 applications in Facebook's Money category. At Netbanker we are most interested in the 14 directly related to banking, payments, and lending. So here's the most-used list with the stock trackers, calculators, and shopper apps removed. Lending Club continues to lead the pack as it has since its May 24 launch in conjunction with the new Facebook platform. Applications are listed by number of Facebook users that have added them to their profiles.

Top 10

1. Lending Club by Lending Club >>> 11,012 users

Lending Club enables those in the Facebook community with good credit to easily borrow from each other with a trusted third party managing the process and assessing the risk. Previous coverage here.

2. Fantasy Banker by Prosper >>> 4,674 users

Prosper bills Fantasy Banker as a twist on HOT or NOT, "a fun & educational way to get acquainted with person-to-person lending by betting on whether real-life Prosper loan listings will fund or not." Previous coverage here.

3. My Bucks By Aryeh Goldsmith >>> 3,926 users

A virtual currency called the Facebuck.

4. BillMonk (Obopay) by Charles Groom and others >>> 2,793 users 

BillMonk is an expense tracker specifically designed to track debts and obligations (such as rent) between individuals. Used Facebook APIs long before the F8 platform was announced. Previous coverage here.

5. Buxfer by Shashank Pandit and Ashwin Bharambe >>> 1,482 users

Buxfer is another expense tracker specifically designed for singles sharing households expenses. Previous coverage here.

6. Pay Me by Yellow Media >>> 842 users

Pay Me was developed by a third-party developer to make it easier to initiate PayPal payments right from Facebook. Previous coverage here.

7. ChipIn by ChipIn >>> 830 users

ChipIn is a simple way to collect funds for an event, trip, or anything. Users create a clickable badge that is displayed in their profile. Other Facebook users chip in via the PayPal network. Previous coverage here.

8. PayPal by PayPal >>> 500 users

The official product from PayPal, the division of eBay. So far, merely allows you to easily request money from your Facebook friends. More functions are said to be on the way. Previous coverage here.

9. Ven by Hub Culture  >>> 154 users

Another virtual currency.

10. iSpend by Reman Child and Shawn Gupta >>> 141 users

A new financial tracking app posted last week. 

The Rest
11. Wesabe by Wesabe, Inc. 
>>> 104 users

The Wesabe Facebook app currently supports group discussions. It is not currently linked into its Web-based personal finance app. Previous coverage here

12. OmniSpense.com by Jonathan Kelly >>> 60 users

The newest expense tracker, appeared in the money category in the past 48 hours, but looks like it may have been posted about 2 weeks ago. 

13. BillTrack Bill Reminder by Michael Irizarry >>> 59 users

Bill Track is built specifically for tracking bills (surprised?). It was posted earlier this week. 

14. My ViCu by Myvicu Master >>> 17 users

Yet another virtual currency.

PayPal Really Launches on Facebook

PayPal application shown within a Facebook profile Two weeks ago I heard from PayPal corp communications who felt that my “PayPal launches on Facebook” title was misleading. They had a point. As I explained in the post, the new Facebook app was PayPal-powered but developed by Australia’s Yellow Media. The title could have been better.   

However, that’s moot now since PayPal has now launched its own app on Facebook (here). It appears to have been posted on July 3 and has 218 users as of this morning. The application provides a simple interface to request and track money requests from Facebook friends (see inset above). Additional functionality is said to be on the way.

ChipIn, Another PayPal-powered Application Launches on Facebook

Link to company Watching the explosion of content, and users, at Facebook, may be the most interesting thing we've seen since the rise of the commercial Web in 1995/1996. Marc Andreessen, not know for hyperbole, had this to say in a lengthy blog posting (here) that should be required reading for all content providers, including banks and credit unions:

(Facebook Platform) is an amazing achievement — one of the most significant milestones in the technology industry in this decade.

Every time we head over to the Facebook application directory, there's an interesting new financial app. Friday we found ChipIn, a nifty little widget that allows users to post a badge on their Facebook page or website that allows users to contribute money for a certain event or cause. It can be a charitable event such as Vancity's Bike Share program or a private event such as pooling funds for someone's birthday party. ChipIn is the second developer to launch on Facebook using PayPal's engine. The first was PayMe (see our coverage here).

ChipIn <chipin.com> is a Honolulu-based firm formed in mid-2005 with seed funding from CommerceNet. The company emerged from stealth mode in Feb. 2006 and launched its service on the Web in November 2006. The Facebook app launched June 24 and has 415 downloads as of 9 AM this morning, impressive growth compared to the 134 it had on Friday.  

Initially, ChipIn was a full-service payments company, actually holding and managing the funds for users. However, after a few months of those headaches, it outsourced all payments-related functions to PayPal. Check out the Chipin blog for the full company history.

How it Works
Sample chipin badge ChipIn uses the PayPal engine to do the heavy lifting similar to PayMe that we wrote about two weeks ago (here) (see note 1). To create a ChipIn badge on Facebook, users select a Facebook event (created separately within the social network), set the fundraising goal, then customize the text and colors of the widget.

In our test, we created a ChipIn badge with the goal of raising $100 to donate to Vancity's Bike Share program (see screenshot #1 below). Although, we were able to successfully install the widget on our Netbanker Facebook page (see screenshot #3 below), we had trouble with the customization. Every time we moved from the customization step to installation, our changes were lost (note 2).

To use the widget, visitors click on the "chip in" button to launch a PayPal window. Users choose an amount to pay, then login to PayPal, to complete the transaction. A progress bar on the Chipin widget shows the progress towards the fundraising goal. 

With a single click the badge can be placed within an individual's Facebook page (see screenshot #2 below). ChipIn also provides cut-and-paste code to load the badge on any blog or website. ChipIn badges can also be built directly through its website without the need for a Facebook account.

Financial Institution Opportunities
PayMe and Chipin are cool little apps that can and should be sponsored by banks, credit unions, or card issuers. Although the PayPal brand name makes Chipin relatively trustworthy, a widely recognized financial brand would be even better. At this point, ChipIn is still a tiny, relatively unknown company. If I were at a major bank, I'd write them a $50,000 check and have them rename their Facebook app, "Chipin by YourBank," instantly becoming the first bank with an official Facebook app. The company will also build white label versions you could provide to customers for use outside Facebook.  

For more on how to use social networking in financial services, see our Online Banking Report on Social Personal Finance.

Screenshots

1. Simple ChipIn Widget Creation
Using an existing Facebook account and an existing Facebook event, in this case Vancity's Bike Share (thanks to William Azaroff), a new widget can be created and posted to your Facebook profile in about a minute.

2. Facebook Promotion
Once the badge has been created, the Facebook integration provides simple ways to promote the cause. You can invite up to 10 friends each day, post it on your Facebook profile, or cut and paste the code onto your own website or blog. But the key to viral growth is the Facebook mini-feed which automatically notifies all your friends about any Facebook activities, including the addition of the Chipin badge to your profile.

Posted on the NetBanker Facebook Page
Here's how the ChipIn badge looks on my Facebook profile page (here). Note, you'll need to be logged in to Facebook to view.

Notes:

1. PayPal is not the developer of Chipin, nor do they have any financial interest in the company. Chipin is an independent developer using PayPal APIs.

2. Tests conducted on July 5 using Firefox 2.0.

PayPal Launches on Facebook: Who Wants to be the First Bank?

The social networking phenomena has entered a new phase: eCommerce. It has always been a bit hard to visualize mainstream businesses, like banks, book sellers, or phone companies making a profit on MySpace. It's been a great place for musicians and online dating companies to grab market share, but a MySpace Checking Account didn't seem just around the corner (see MySpace coverage here).  

All that changed May 24, when Facebook opened its network to outside developers, making its service more like Windows than MySpace. Already the service has grown by 3 million users, more than 10%, in the past 4 week, to 27 million (see Facebook profile in today's Wall Street Journal).

More interesting are the 893 new services have opened their doors on the platform. The most popular, Top Friends by Slide, already has 6.4 million users. Yes, that is no typo, in one month a Facebook service grew to more than 6 million users. With traditional marketing, it would have cost a bank or card company as much as $1 billion to attract that many customers assuming acquisition costs of $100 to $150 per new account. 

And it's not just the one app. A new Seattle-based music preference service, iLike, has added 3.8 million. There's not a whole lot happening in commerce apps YET, the first financial company with a service offering, Lending Club (see previous coverage here), is the most popular business app, with just under 10,000 users. That's about what iLike attracts in a busy hour, but for a financial services company, and especially a startup, that's huge, a grand slam using tired baseball metaphors.

For many reasons, it takes longer for traditional companies to pounce on new opportunities. But over the summer we'll start seeing hundreds of businesses launch on Facebook. By next year at this time, the Facebook apps directory will probably look like the New York City Yellow Pages (or at least San Jose).  

Financial Institution Opportunities

Searching the site, we only see four financial services that have launched on Facebook:

  • Lending Club's person-to-person loan marketplace
  • Prosper's lending game
  • Wesabe's personal finance groups
  • Pay Me, a payment service developed by Australian Ad Agency, Yellow Media using the PayPal engine (screenshot below, we'll provide more details once we finish testing it)

But so far there is no:

  • Bank
  • Credit union
  • Credit card issuer
  • Mortgage lender
  • Brokerage (although there are several stock monitoring service including Forbes, Yahoo, and Social Picks)
  • Rates tracking service
  • Credit report monitoring service (though Identity Guard is advertising heavily today)
  • Identity theft protection service

Let the race begin. But you better move faster than you've ever moved before, if you want to get the huge first-mover advantage on the Facebook platform. Good luck.

For more information, see our latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance.

Pay Me on Facebook using PayPal

Venture Funding Flows to Wesabe and Prosper; Wesabe Launches on Facebook

Link to Wesabe on Facebook Two potentially disruptive startups, Prosper, the leader in U.S. P2P lending and Wesabe, the first-mover in social personal finance, both announced new funding rounds today:

  • Prosper took in $20 million, bringing total funding to $40 million (previous coverage here)
  • Wesabe added $4 million to its bank account, bringing its funding to $4.7 million (previous coverage here)

These are sizable bets on on niche markets that haven't thrown out a lot of revenues so far. But whether they succeed or not, the money will certainly fund additional innovations that will be educational for those in the banking industry. 

Case in point: Wesabe launched an app on the Facebook platform, becoming the first personal finance company to do so (screenshot below). So far it's a simple front door to their group discussions, but with more development resources, it could become a full-fledged "bank" running within the Facebook community.

For more information on Wesabe refer to our latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance (here).     

Wesabe's application on the Facebook platform

New Person-to-Person Lender, Lending Club, Hopes Facebook Linkage Allows it to Prosper

Link to Lending Club homepage Just as we are putting the finishing touches on our latest Online Banking Report, which looks at the intersection of personal finance and social networks, a new person-to-person lender launches. And how do they plan to gain traction? Through tight integration with Facebook, the second-largest social network. So we are holding the presses, and adding this important new development to our upcoming report.

We'll have much more on it later, but if you are curious now, login to Facebook and check out Lending Club (the easiest way is to login via the link at the top of the Lending Club homepage). Or read Colin Henderson's great analysis here.  

Last year, Facebook developers created a proof-of-concept personal finance app, originally called Facebank, then changed to MoochSpot (see previous coverage here). That effort was designed to show how third parties could leverage the Facebook API to create new services. It didn't take long for someone to take the bait. Within a few weeks, BillMonk created an interface to Facebook to support their expensing tracking service, now owned by Obopay. Buxfer also supports login via Facebook's username/password (post here), but does not link into the social network as yet.

But Lending Club is the first to leverage the Facebook interface to support actual financial transactions, in this case lending/borrowing. The company is modeled after Prosper. Lending Club timed its launch to coincide with the Facebook developer's meeting and launch of Facebook Platform.

We'll be testing it during the next few days and will report back on whether its a challenge to mainstream lending, or merely blog fodder. Given the rising power of social networks, my guess is the former. 

LendingClub homepage from outside Facebook

LendingClub homepage mockup

LendingClub homepage from inside Facebook

LendingClub page inside Facebook

Facebook Launches MoochSpot, a “Social Loan” Tracker

Facebook_moochspot_logo_1 In mid-August, Facebook, the popular social networking site aimed at college students, alums, and now a few select corporations has released a simple personal finance application. The original name was FaceBank (see screenshot at bottom of article), but recently it was renamed MoochSpot (click on screenshot below for closeup).

MoochSpot allows Facebook users to loan (i.e., spot), borrow (mooch), and settle debts with other Facebook users. At this point there is no payment capabilities, so the money must change hands through other methods.

Here's how it works:

  1. Create a "piggy bank" to track the funds
  2. Select a Facebook friend from the list that automatically shows in the MoochSpot list (note, in our screenshot below, we don't have any predesignated friends, so the list is empty)
  3. Enter the amount of the loan
  4. (Optional) Enter a reason for the loan

Facebook_moochspot_main

Analysis
MoochSpot was developed, not because of huge user demand to track personal debts, but to showcase the type of application that can be built by outside developers using the recently released Facebook APIs. MoochSpot is highlighted on the Facebook developer's page <developers.facebook.com>.

Billmonk_facebookBillMonk, the self-proclaimed "social money" site which allows debts to be split and tracked via website or mobile phone (see NB Apr 30), is the first financial services provider to jump on the bandwagon and create Facebook integration (in inset, see Facebook login in lower-right of BillMonk's homepage). We tried on several computers to get it to work and were unable to get past the Facebook login. We'll check back in a few days to see if they have the bugs worked out.

Financial institutions looking to create online banking sites that click with college students should pay close attention to BillMonk and MoochSpot. It would be relatively simple for a bank to use the Facebook API to develop even more powerful payment applications that combine the loan-tracking benefits of MoochSpot with actual epayment capabilities to move money back and forth among friends. While it wouldn't do anything that Paypal doesn't do today, the integration within online banking is important.

But the biggest reason to integrate with Facebook, MySpace, or any other 20-something social network is because it positions yourself as a bank or CU that understands the younger generation. And make sure you have genuine 20-somethings designing the marketing and writing the blog copy.

Appendix:

Below is the original FaceBank application prior to changing the name to MoochSpot:

Facebank_lend

Facebank_borrow