BillGuard: Consumer Protection 2.0

One of the remarkable things I learned talking to Yaron Samid, co-founder and CEO of BillGuard, is the level of credit card fraud that’s publicly reported on the Web.

Currently in beta, BillGuard has a mission to catch both unwanted and unauthorized credit transactions—there’s a difference—based on crowdsourced input from its subscribers.

As with a lot of companies that rely on the crowd, BillGuard faced a cold start problem: with few signed up to review and mark questionable charges, there’s little data.

BillGuard cleverly solved it by mining Twitter, consumer complaint forums, and other sites. For kicks, search Twitter for “credit card fraud” and prepare to be surprised

And you know what, according to Samid, they achieved a 20% hit rate matching complaints against vendors culled online with credit transactions from their existing pool of subscribers.Continue reading

TechCrunch Disrupt: The End

My gut told me that Getaround, the peer-to-peer car rental service, should be the Battlefield winner.

It was a crowd favorite and solved the age-old problem of finding temporary access to wheels without paying any up-front fees.

However, it seemed to me that the judges found this a messy proposition with possible regulatory issues, insurance issues, and potential customer satisfaction headaches—’the car I rented smells funny’, etc, etc.Continue reading