Startup Kwedit aims at ‘unbanked,’ credit-less

A new startup called Kwedit wants to help teenagers and other people without credit or debit cards buy virtual goods online.

If it catches on, Kwedit could broaden the market for virtual items and even teach kids about real credit, says CEO Danny Shader, who headed Accept.com before Amazon.com Inc. bought the developer of online payment systems in 1999.

Kwedit (pronounced qwe-dit) works like credit: You promise to pay later to get stuff now. If you keep your promise, your Kwedit score goes up and you can borrow larger amounts of money.

But if you don’t keep your promise, Kweditors won’t come after you. Although your Kwedit score would go down, your real-world credit score wouldn’t, so it won’t make it harder for you to buy a house or get a credit card later. It helps that, unlike real-world items, virtual goods have no real value.

You can pay off Kwedit through the mail. [Read the full article]

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A partnership to provide $43 million for loans to budding entrepreneurs and plans to set aside $200,000 to teach them will help people start or expand small businesses in Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Thursday.

The Democratic governor said she also wants to make it easier for entrepreneurs to access programs that will help them on their way. She is counting on entrepreneurs to help revive Michigan’s economy, devastated by the collapse of the auto industry.

“Our focus this year must be on creating jobs by creating employers, in addition to bringing employers here,” Granholm said at Wayne State University’s TechTown, a research and technology park that supports business startups. At the event, she heard from a half-dozen entrepreneurs who had benefited from a training program called FastTrac.

The $200,000 could help teach 1,000 people what they need to know to start a business through FastTrac. [Read the full article]

Shoppers still reach for plastic at the checkout, but the card they grab most often these days is a debit card, not a credit card.

That was spelled out Thursday in MasterCard Inc.’s fourth-quarter results. The payment processor posted a 23-percent profit leap, but its shares were beaten down as the numbers revealed further evidence of the fading use of credit cards, whether by choice or necessity.

“People have been utilizing credit, obviously, to a much less extent,” MasterCard Chief Financial Officer Martina Hund-Mejean said in an interview.

Meanwhile, rival Visa Inc.’s results not only showed a huge profit gain, but also its dominance of debit, which consumers use more often to buy necessities like food and gasoline. That shielded the San Francisco company’s stock from the session’s widespread declines. [Read the full article]

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Pulling suitcases and hefting heavy bags on their shoulders, millions of Chinese workers are boarding trains to head home for the Lunar New Year — a holiday that triggers the world’s biggest annual migration of people.

This year some may not come back from the holiday, which begins Feb. 14, a growing worry for factory owners facing labor shortages but also a sign of improving opportunities for workers throughout China, not just in the coastal regions that have long been its manufacturing base.

“During the holiday, I’ll check to see if I can get a decent job around my hometown,” Li Beiyong said, standing by her big purple polka-dotted suitcase this week in the crowded station in Guangzhou. “The pay might be lower, but the cost of living isn’t as high. [Read the full article]

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