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Facebook launches API and bill-sharing service

Facebook launches API and bill-sharing service

Remember the Billmonk bill-sharing service we posted about a few weeks back? Well now it has some serious competition in the form of FaceBank, the first application to take advantage of Facebook's new API. As of now, FaceBank is pretty underdeveloped, but is has a huge advantage in that virtually every college student (the obvious targets for bill-sharing services) already has a Facebook account.

Using FaceBank is a bit confusing. The service is designed around the concept of lending to and "mooching" from friends organized in groups called piggy banks. A bank is a group of people you define by selecting from a list of your Facebook friends. FaceBank keeps track of all the loans within a piggy bank and will minimize the number of transactions required for the entire group to settle up. For example, if I owe Noah $20, and he owes Matt $20, FaceBank will instruct me to pay Matt $20 and mark both debts as settled. Entering a loan or a mooch consists of selecting the person you owe or owes you from a list and entering the dollar amount with an optional description of the credit or debit.

Unfortunately, there's no way to enter a large bill and split it between multiple people; instead shared costs must be entered as a loan, forcing you to do the division to determine how much each person owes. There's also no way to select more than one friend at a time when entering a loan or mooch, nor is there a mechanism to limit the friend list to the particular piggy bank you're in at the moment. Another obvious missing feature is the ability to turn a pre-existing Facebook group into a piggy bank.

Though it's undoubtedly rough around the edges, with a bit of development--from Facebook themselves or a third party developer with the API--it could dominate the college micro-loan and bill-sharing market.