John Cook from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer contacted us the day after we launched, saying he was intrigued by our service. He listed us as his “Venture of the Week” with a very nice write-up:
One of the things that we find most gratifying is that everyone who hears about BillMonk immediately “gets it”; social money – informal debts between friends – has always been a thorn in everyone’s side.
When John and I talked on the phone, he was as surprised as we had been that, to the the best of our knowledge, there have been no other ventures that offer a centralized way to track informal debts. There have been lots of standalone apps (not to mention spreadsheets) for splitting bills and recording debts, but they weren’t centralized. And there have been several stabs at offering friends the ability to settle-up with one another with real cash or e-cash (of which PayPal is the most successful), but those are formal and pretty heavy-weight. One advantage of informal debts is that you can use a past debt as an informal currency for a future purchase. For example, my girlfriend owes me $100 for a deposit on a ski cabin; since then, she’s been picking up all our restaurant tabs and has beat down the debt to $30.
That said – and this answers a key point of John’s article, about how we’ll make money – we fullly intend to collaborate with financial institutions to offer our users the ability to settle up with cash when they see fit. If the social money market is as big as we think, this offers a great business opportunity for us and our partner institutions.