Live blogging Finovate: Tools to piece your financial puzzle together

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live blogging from FinovateI don't really consider myself a technology buff. I don't leave home without my Blackberry, and I recently bought a MacBook Air as a gift to my shoulder, which was tired of lugging around my heavier laptop all day. But beyond that, my kids often program my iPod, and, while I'm adjusting to Twitter and Facebook, I often reach out to my twentysomething assistant with questions.

But today, I'm writing to you from FinovateSpring 2010, a big conference for technology types in the banking and financial world. I'm here not only to report on the latest trends, but also to launch two of my own new products that I've been working on for the last six months or so. I'm excited to learn about new tools to make our financial lives easier, and I'll be sure to fill you in on what I see by updating this post throughout the day, so check back!

Here's the latest from the conference:




7:34PM Presenter: Expensify, CEO David Barrett

Expensify – "Expense reports that don't suck." That's what David Barrett, CEO, says Expensify brings you. Import IRS ready info right from your credit card and it will integrate with Quickbooks. Most people's expenses look like a pile of paper in the corner, but a transaction with Expensify never enters the paper phase. Expensify gets the merchant data, so managers can dive deep and take action on their data. If you see hotel expenses are too big – you can look at it and see that you're spending most of your business's money at the Holiday Inn. Once you know how much is being spent at a chain like that, you can negotiate with Holiday Inn for a better corporate rate. You can also find your heavy spending employees – the ones staying at the W – and tell them to cut it out. Seems like a great way for small businesses to manage their resources better in these lean times.

7:32PM Presenter: Mint.com
Founder Aaron Patzer

Mint founder Aaron Patzer, who now runs Mint from within Intuit, was talking about Mint's new application to enable users to meet their financial goals. They surveyed customers on what the most popular goals are -- save for a house, put together an emergency fund, amass money for retirement, take a trip (with information from travelocity) -- and help people save their money to meet them. He suggests downloading a picture of your child, for example, to attach to the college account ("That's motivation," he says) and a picture of your dream house to your house fund. The site will then tell you how you're doing in tracking your way toward getting there, whether you're ahead or behind. Makes a lot of sense. As I say all the time: It's not really possible to save unless you know what you're saving for. Mint's goals app doesn't launch until June.

Presenter: Kabbage.com
Robert Frohwein, CEO

Finding enough credit to stay in business has been a big problem for entrepreneurs during this tight-credit business cycle. Kabbage.com is launching in Beta – coming live in October. It provides credit to online sellers when they've been unable to get it otherwise. It verifies the identity of the seller, and pulls down a lot of data on the customer through PayPal. Then the seller goes through an application for credit. The loans are issued by Urban Trust bank and the receivables funded as well. They just went through the application process in real time – in under 7 minutes. "To us a seller is more than a credit score," said CEO Robert Frohwein. Those are words a lot of online business owners will be very happy to hear.

11:34AM Pageonce CEO Guy Goldstein
Pageonce is the largest mobile personal finance service in the country, with two million customers. It's free and available for all smart phones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile). They say the app lets you manage your money anytime, which I, of course, love – I think tracking your spending is key to getting a handle on your money. Pageonce tracks your credit cards, bills, investment and travel accounts and sends emails and notifications directly to your phone to let you know about upcoming bills, suspicious account activities, and credit card limits. Their new product today is the Pageonce Personal Assistant and Bill Assistant. It has calendar functions to show you what's coming due and what's been paid, as well as tools to analyze where your money is going.

11:24AM DebtGoal

DebtGoal, developer of the Pay It Down App (which lets users of my Debt Diet stack their debt to get out of debt cheapest and fastest) also launched a cool microsite called NegotiateMyRate.com. Lets you see -- if you want to call your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction -- what sort of success other consumers are having with the same issuer and how much of a rate reduction they're receiving, on average.

2:19PM Presenter: MoneyAisle
CEO and President Mukesh Chatter

What it does: Runs reverse auctions so that consumers can get better rates on cds, savings products and – new this week – auto loans on new and used cars. The problem in the auto loan market is that there is a huge variance in interest rate, particularly for consumers who have less than pristine credit.

Generally, there are also middle men – like the car dealer or the websites on which these auto refis were advertised – who need to be paid, anywhere from around $400 to $1,600 per transaction, a cost that gets passed to the consumer. MoneyAisle lets consumers select their credit score, type in details of their car, then send out the loan request to auction and getting rid of the pricey middleman.

In the demo I watched, for a consumer with excellent credit, eight different bids came back in a matter of seconds ranging from a 2.5% interest rate on a 24-month loan to a 3.7% interest rate on a 48-month loan.

10:05AM My own contribution

Here's my part in all of this: I'm here to present Pay it Down! and the JeanChatzky Score Builder. Both are designed to help you manage your credit and debt.

Pay it Down! is an application that I'm adding to The Debt Diet, the program I launched last year with Pro-Change Behavior Systems. The Debt Diet takes users through a series of activities that are designed to help them find $10 a day to put toward paying off their debt.

The JeanChatzky Score Builder, which I'm presenting this afternoon, was designed with SmartCredit.com. This is all about your credit score, and takes you through the steps you need to take to improve your score in just 120 days. We look at the positive and negative items that are impacting your score, then tackle them one by one by fixing inaccurate information, wiping out old accounts, and paying off small debts. You'll be able to send messages directly to your creditors through our system, and we'll give you all the language to use. We'll also alert you when your creditors respond, and track your score as it ticks up.

If you have debt or a less than stellar credit score, I hope you'll check out these programs. You can find out more by visiting my website.
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