Friday, August 28, 2009

Many Changes at Mint.Com

Earlier this month received another $14 million in series C funding. This round was led by DAG Ventures, and includes Founders Fund. Already investing in Mint are Benchmark Capital, Shasta Ventures, First Round Capital, and Sherpalo Ventures. doesn’t disclose it’s revenues, but Aaron Patzer, CEO told TechCrunch earlier this month that revenue is up over eight times year over year.

Mint has 1.4 Million registered users, tracking $175 billion in transactions and $47 billion in assets.

Also this month, Mint has offered a new improved Web site to its users. Improvements include better graphing and trending tools as well as the ability to budget for income as well as expenses—which will better help users to project cash flow. Mint now has sixteen graphs that can show you the way around your personal finances.

The budgeting tools have also improved to include an “everything else” category (showing your spending in non-budgeted categories). Also, amounts can be rolled over in Mint from one month to the next. Refreshing indeed!

I’m especially enjoying the new traffic-signal type alert system that shows my budget categories as “All Good,” “Slow Down” and “Over Budget,” in the appropriate red, yellow or green, but responses on the Mint Blog are showing that many readers want the old “bar system” graphic returned (yes, it is helpful, so I can’t blame them).

The iPhone app came out a while ago, but there isn’t one yet for us Blackberry users, I’m hoping that will come soon.

Also, Mint is wisely beginning to utilize some of the vast amounts of consumer data that is available. Since membership is anonymous Mint users like myself don’t have to feel outraged, but companies can study consumerism trends from the data accumulated by Mint. This use will likely help to keep Mint free to users, and profitable, the elusive golden egg that seems to prove so troublesome for so many of these internet finance startups.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Wash. She writes on money, family and life at The Pennywise Family and DebtKid.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spoke too soon?

I've had several corrections today about my earlier post today regarding Loanio.

I took their recent S-1 Amendment showing that they'd sold the code for cash as an exit strategy but some readers think that this is a reasonable strategy to maintain operations during a quiet period. Fair enough, I just can't understand what would happen when the quiet period ends, and they don't have the original code. Then what? Perhaps they've got a coder would could write a new one? Perhaps sell the entire operations? There are more opportunities than I'd initally estimated, and thanks for filling me in.

That said, that's my problem, and not Loanio's, and I don't want to lead anyone astray, so I'll retract my suspicions that they may be gone. Sadly, the quiet period leaves them unable to let us know what really is going on, so we'll just have to wait and keep watching.

My apologies for the hype/suspicions, and thanks to all the dedicated readers who took the time to set me straight either in comments or via email.


Another One Bites The Dust. Loanio Has Sold Code for Cash.

American peer-to-peer lending platform Loanio appears to be vanishing as well.

The company, which originally launched in October 2008 has only issued seven loans, one if which is now thirty days past due.

The latest amendment to their S-1 filing (August 14) discloses that they’ve permanently licensed their source code to an unnamed corporation. The code was sold for $375,000, of which $100,000 was the down payment, and the remainder will be paid over 18 months. The blog notes that the Loanio engineering team has shrunk from five full time engineers to three part timers since their last filing with the SEC.
Jessica Ward is a freelance writer and blogger from Seattle. She blogs on family and frugality at The Pennywise Family and DebtKid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review Those Statements! The CARD Act Is In Effect Now

Just a friendly reminder to our readers to check your credit card statements. Many Americans are discovering that in the month of July their credit card providers snuck up on them and slipped in fees, higher interest rates or other charges in advance of the enactment of the CARD Act, which will further regulate issuers of credit cards.

Here’s a breakdown of the phases and what they include.

First phase: August 2009
Consumers will now receive statements 21 days in advance of their payment due date. The industry standard before was just 14 days.

Card issuers must also give consumers 45 days of notice prior to an interest rate change.

Second phase: February 2010
Card issuers can only raise rates on existing balances if the consumer is A: 60 days or more past due, B: A promotional rate expired, or C: A consumer doesn’t complete the workout plan or D: A variable rate increase because of movement in an index.

The CARD act will also restrict access to credit cards for borrowers under the age of 21 without a co-signer. I expect that P2P lending will be a place to turn for these borrowers—and potentially as part of a long term trend, as these borrowers won’t be “hooked young” by credit in it’s plastic form.

Already credit card borrowers are turning towards peer to peer lending as a replacement/payoff strategy to their credit cards. Blogger Matt Jabs, of DebtFreeAdventure is conducting a “DIY Consolidation” with Lending Club after his credit card company hiked his rate up. I considered it myself after a credit card I no longer use increased its annual fee, but I decided instead to close the account, as interest on my remaining card is still low.

In sum, don’t forget to take a look at your latest statements to make sure that your credit card company didn’t sneak in adjustments to your agreement before the CARD Act took effect this month.

Say it Ain’t So! Could Pertuity Direct Be Gone?

I received a tip in my email box that a special meeting of shareholders occurred on August 21st for the board of Trustees at the National Retail Fund III. The purpose of the meeting was “to approve the liquidation and distribution of all shares of the fund.” Oh snap!

Say it ain’t so? Could Pertuity Direct really be leaving us? They’ve been pretty quiet in recent months, not issuing a press release since March, and no blog posts since May. A couple of months ago their Commission Junction account deactivated without warning to advertisers (I was very surprised by this as I’d been running their ads for some time on my Pennywise Family blog). Keep in mind, the company only went "live" in January of 2009.

A few prominent PD figures have recently vanished from the Twitterscape.

Today I tried to call, but the telephone numbers have all vanished from the Web site. I found a number for Gemini Fund Management, the “transfer agent” for National Retail Fund III. I don’t remember them being part of the picture when I interviewed the PD team back in March, but that is the sort of detail I may have forgotten.

I asked for a telephone for PD and found the number disconnected and forwarded, to CEO Kim Muhota’s cell phone. When I spoke to them in the Winter, I seem to remember there being a staff of eight, so this seemed like an unlikely transfer.

I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on, but for now this is where it stands—it looks like Pertuity Direct may be gone. I’ll post an update to verify when/if I’m able to learn more.

Jessica Ward is a freelance blogger and writer based in Seattle. She blogs on frugal living, and family life at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Peer To Peer Lender in Spain: Lubbus

Lubbus is another Peer to Peer lender in Spain that I just learned a little about today. They’ve been in business since 2008, but the site launched on April 19th, being the first P2P lender in Spain. Another interesting thing is that Lubbus offers a secondary market like Prosper does.

I ran across an interview with the CEO online and at the time (sadly the article was undated) the hold up in licensing was data-authority security regulation (i.e. Web site security). Unsure if that has been resolved or not, but the site does appear to be functional.

Unfortunately, is very graphics-intense, so computer translators don’t translate it well. If you read Spanish—would you take a look and see if you can tell what’s going on? I’d sure appreciate any help on that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Comnitae offers P2P Loans in Spain has begun offering peer to peer (P2P loans in Spain).

According to Comunitae funded ten loans during June—their first full month of Activity. Comunitae is a bid-based peer to peer platform, similar to prosper. There are 5,000 registered users on the Web site, but only 645 are active investors and 780 are borrowers.

In the Comunitae system, borrowers are ranked by risk as “A,” “B” or “C” and interest rates range after bidding from 7-12%.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer based in the Seattle area. She writes on personal finance, family and adoption. Her Web site is

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zopa to Re-Launch In Italy

After being closed down for peer to peer loans since July, Zopa has reached an agreement to re-open in Italy in September. Loans already issued were being serviced but no new ones were made.

What makes this interesting is what caused the shut down. It wasn’t the peer-to-peer platform, or unregulated securities as in many other places—but the holding accounts where funds were held between being deposited and being applied to the fully-funded loan.

Because these “transit lender accounts” were aggregated they resulted in a sum warranting regulation by the Italian government.

Now Zopa will establish separate accounts for each lender, and re-developing their system to accommodate. They expect to be back online at the beginning of September.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer from Seattle. You can also read her posts on and

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lending Club Raises Rates, Prosper Responds by Hearlding Auction

Beginning July 30th, Lending Club has raised average rates charged to borrowers by 0.5% in response to increased interest rates charged by mainstream lenders.

Investors will be seeing increased rates, and already the current net annualized return of all Lending Club investors was over 9.5%.

Lending Club has continued to see increasing number of loan requests from prime borrowers and believes that the higher rate remains competitive. The very best, grade A loans, according to a company press release have actually been lowered by 0.46% to further attract the best borrowers. has responded by further emphasizing its’ auction model, driving interest rates as low as its investors are willing to fund based on risk.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer from Seattle. You can also read her work at and

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School with Peer To Peer Loans

TuitionU is now offering two funding methods for college students seeking supplemental tuition funding.

They’ve partnered with GreenNote to offer peer to peer student loans at 6.8% plus a 2% origination fee. Lenders will get a 5.8% return on their investment with a $100 minimum investment. These student loans are disbursed to the institutions instead of the student, so you can feel good about not funding a keg party on Friday night with your investment. Not only can students solicit student loans online but they can also invite friends, families and social networks to contribute towards their loan. Prospective investors can search which loans to fund based on school affiliation, major, sports or even Greek societies.

Additionally, TuitionU is partnering with National Lending Associates to allow tuition loans to be stretched from the usual ten months to over ten years.

TuitionU is a division of Cology and makes its money by charging loan origination fees on the loans it issues. In 2008, 15 lenders offered $125 Million in private loans to students. This year, more than 100 Lenders are prepared to offer $400 million in loans.

The TuitionU alliances come at an excellent time, as Fynanz left the US market back in January as a provider of peer to peer student loans.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer based in Seattle, WA. She writes on personal finance, family and frugal living. You can follow her on twitter as @jessc098 or visit her online at