Social networking, personal finance make online connect

Social networking, personal finance make online connect

Mumbai: It was only a matter of time that the age of social networking caught up with the era of personal finance. That, in short, is the driving principle behind, a site that uses social networking to focus its energies on India-specific personal finance information for users—ranging from mutual funds to taxes to credit cards, the stock market, and even those complex financial instruments called derivatives.

“While we act as a repository for information on anything ranging from home loan rates to fixed deposit rates, stock quotes, insurance products, mutual funds and credit cards, we are also trying to build a community around the site," said Vivek Doraiswami, chief executive of Zibika Infotech Pvt. Ltd, and a failed dotcommer-turned-finance professional who now hopes to get a second wind with Zibika.

His first venture, Wormhole Consulting, an Internet consulting company founded in 1998, did not generate enough business to justify its existence, and was shut down in 2002.

Over the past two years, he has been working on launching the new site, which is just about a month old, along with Nat D. Natraj, founder and board member of eForce Inc., a US-based business solutions provider.

What Zibika aims to do is create a community of users around which a business model will be structured to offer online services as well as information.

Currently, a registered member can share details of her personal finance with her community of “friends", who will get alerts when she buys or sells a stock, without revealing particulars of the transaction, such as the number of shares, or the price.

Another area where Doraiswami feels the community model will help is in getting the best deal. “If a user finds that five of his friends have taken a home loan from a particular bank, he can probably find out more about the features of that loan as compared to others on offer," he said.

The company is currently self-financed to the tune of $250,000-300,000 (Rs1.16-1.39 crore).

The website will initially depend on advertising for revenues, a traffic-driven process that Doraiswami says he is willing to ride out while he builds networks with banks and insurance companies to send him alerts on any changes in interest rates or, in the case insurance companies, on their multiple products that are featured on the site. “The better the content, the more will be the hits," he said.

“Another revenue stream could be to get paid for generating leads for banks and insurance companies," he said. At some point of time, the company will also become an online broking platform for insurance, mutual funds and stocks, he added.