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What are your friends buying? Use Blippy to find out

Tyler Metzger

Back in the day, I always used to try to get an early peek at my Christmas presents. Well, thanks to Blippy, a new service that posts your card purchases online, looking under your parents’ bed is so old fashion.

The newly unveiled Blippy service lets people broadcast their credit and debit card purchases online.

To use Blippy, link one or more of your credit or debit cards through its Web site. From then on, each transaction you make will show up on Blippy’s site as something like, “Tyler spent $78.32 at Guitar Center.” So for you present-peakers, all you have to do now is login and see what someone bought, or didn’t buy, for you.

The service, co-founded by online entrepreneur Philip Kaplan, is currently by invitation only. It’s also still in beta. But even in its infancy, the New York Times, CNET and Tech Crunch have all taken notice of this interesting, if not frightening, idea of sharing your purchases with the entire world.

“The big question that Blippy answers is ‘What are your friends buying?,'” Kaplan told Tech Crunch.

Who cares what your friends are buying? Well, the service’s creators hope you will once you start comparing how much you paid for a new keyboard versus how much your uncle in Wyoming paid for the same thing. The idea is information sharing. Once your card is connected, Blippy will tell you how much you and others are paying for products once your card is connected. It will also tell you where people are buying stuff. You could use this data to shop for a better price, or even make fun of your friend who paid double.

It’ll work like this: Blippy uses a formula of “X spent Y dollars at Z.” X is the person who bought something, Y is the dollar amount and Z is merchant. A user can click on Z to see who else spent money at that merchant. Or a user can click on X to check out what else that person is buying.

But what about “those” purchases you need to keep private? Ya, there’s an app for that. No, not really. You can, however, use Blippy’s privacy controls to filter what goes public and what doesn’t. The same process happens on Facebook and Twitter when you block users or protect your tweets. You can also turn off the service and turn it back on when needed.

What if you forget, though? Everyone will know you bought that Celine Dion box set. The solution? Kaplan suggests that you have a Blippy-only card along with your other plastic.

“The idea is that most Americans have two or three credit cards in their wallet,” he told the New York Times. “You sign one of them up to be the social card — it’s connected to the site. The other cards you keep private.”

Blippy currently has about 100 users, and future versions will allow users to broadcast their purchases on Twitter and Facebook. Privacy features in the pipeline include the ability to block out certain merchants from credit card data collection and possible implementation of approval steps before transactions go public.

So those are the facts. Let’s analyze this thing.

Warning: Obligatory and totally obvious Internet 2.0/20-something question: As we continue to share more and more information with the general public, how will we ever know how much is too much?

Well, we never really know until someone gets hurt by sharing too much. You get fired for slamming your boss on Facebook (NSFW) because you forgot you’re friends with him. You get publicly called out for tweeting about your son’s death. And so on.

But will those issues plague Blippy? Probably. I’m going to let one of my multiple bosses, editor-in-chief Dan Ray, explain:

“I don’t want anyone to know what I’m buying with my credit card. I don’t trust others to safeguard my privacy with filters. And I’m suspicious that the information will just be used to feed another preferences database that will shovel more merchandise at me. ”

I agree. I barely trust Guitar Center’s Web site to handle my credit card data properly, and now you want me to hand over my info to some fake Twitter service for the sake of knowing what cousin Tom is buying? It’s not going to happen, at least for me.

Dan, any more thoughts?

“Were I almighty, you can bet your sweet bippie I’d send Blippy to the same graveyard as Microsoft’s Clippy.”

Amen.

See related: 24 hours of credit card tweets on Twitter, A #cardgame, some hashtags and a pound cake: Our insta-Twitter review of Frontline’s ‘Card Game’, ‘Mr Twitter’ behind iPhone credit card system

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