How to fix Kivalens (so that you can do good and increase credit card spend)

I published a primer on increasing credit card spend through Kiva in 2013 (see: Kiva: loans, points, and miles).  I believe that all of the basic info there is still correct today, so I’ll simply summarize here:

  • Kiva is an organization that helps deliver micro-loans to people around the world.
  • Loans can be funded by credit card.  If all goes well, you’ll eventually get all of your money back, but you will not earn interest on your loan.
  • There are easy ways to filter to “safe loans” to increase your chances of getting paid back.  See the original post for details.

Default rate update

In 2013 I wrote “Overall, Kiva has a very low loan default rate of .95% (just under 1%).  In my loan portfolio, the default rate has been an amazingly low .21%.”  Today’s numbers (as of 7/15/2015) are a bit different:

  • “Average Kiva User” default rate: 1.13%
  • My loan portfolio default rate (using mostly, but not exclusively, “safe loan” settings): .76%

As you can see, my loan portfolio’s default rate increased substantially, but is still well under 1%.  For me, 1% is the upper bound threshold that would make me rethink whether (or how much) to loan through Kiva.

Kivalens

On Kiva’s own website, loans must be selected one at a time and added to your basket.  If you’d like to reduce risk by making small loans to many different people, it can be a huge time suck to do so on Kiva’s website.  Kivalens is the solution.  Kivalens.org is a website that makes it possible to make loans in batches.  You can set your filter criteria to pick only safe loans.  And you can press the “++” button to add resulting loans in batches to your “cart” by specifying how much you want to loan to each person and the most you’re willing to loan altogether.

How to fix Kivalens

Why won’t Kivalens work?

The problem many users have with Kivalens is that they browse to kivalens.org and see this:

“KivaLens Requires the Microsoft Silverlight 3 plug-in”

How to fix Kivalens

So, they install the Silverlight plug-in and try again.  Same result.  How do we fix this?

I’ve found a simple solution to the problem described above, but it seems to work only with the Firefox browser.  Hopefully readers will chime in with solutions for other browsers and I’ll update this post accordingly.

UPDATE: Readers Win and Matt report that Silverlight is a NPAPI plugin and that NPAPI plugins are being phased out.  Thanks to their input, I added a Chrome solution below:

Chrome Solution

I haven’t tried these solutions yet, but either one of these should work:

Firefox Solution

The Firefox solution is to change the Silverlight Plug-in to “Always Activate”

How to fix Kivalens

Steps:

  • Click the Firefox menu (it looks like three stacked horizontal lines)
  • Click “Add-ons” (it looks like a puzzle piece)
  • Find the Silverlight Plug-in and change the drop-down next to it to say “Always Activate”

The option to “Ask to Activate” should work, but it doesn’t.  If you have security concerns with keeping Silverlight automatically “on”, then change the setting before and after each use of Kivalens.

Hopefully the Kivalens author will fix the site soon so this workaround won’t be necessary.  Until then, the solution shown here should work.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Win
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Win

Google is enhancing security and stability by removing support for NSAPI plug-ins. At this time Silverlight requires NSAPI. The link to Microsoft below explains (with workarounds) and the link to Google’s blog provides more detail on the deprecation:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3058254

http://blog.chromium.org/2014/11/the-final-countdown-for-npapi.html

Matt
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Matt

The issue is that Silverlight relies on a technology that is being phased out if many browsers (NPAPI plugins). If you’re on Chrome 42-44, you can temporarily enable NPAPI plugins. Here’s a link to a Google page describing the issue and showing how to enable them: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/6213033?hl=en

Matt
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Matt

Darn it, looks like someone beat me to it 😛

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[…] How to fix Kivalens (so that you can do good and increase credit card spend) by Frequent Miler. Nice reminder about Kiva loans for MS and also how to reduce your default rates. […]

Macro Polo
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Macro Polo

Kiva died when USB C+ stopped offering unlmtd ~6.875%.

If you tack on deliquencies, adjusting for outstanding portfolio v completed loans, expected losses are now north of 200 bips for the avg K user. That’s entirely unacceptable, coupled with Ks abysmal tracking and accountability standards, practices.

FX risk, losses are just going to get (much) worse too with prevailing monetary policy. These 3rd world countries are going to see the largest FX losses, capital flight.

At one point in time I was pushing six figures thru K monthly with realized losses 1/30 that of the avg K user. I’ve not lent a dime in years and wouldn’t do so again.

Phong @ FinancialBasis.com
Guest

What’s your thought on investing on this? Is it anything like peer-to-peer lending from lendingclub/foliofn or prosper?

Dee
Guest
Dee

Thanks, Greg. I’m very interested in this. Kivalens is helpful, but still confusing.

The Firefox fix worked for me when I emailed you about it a couple of weeks ago. I’m starting small, with just a few hundred $. I got my first partial payback today, two weeks after I made the loan. Pretty good start.

Paul
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Paul

NOTHING about KIVA is “good”. It’s a well marketed feel-good scam and shame on you (or anyone) promoting those sleazebags time and again. KIVA rips off the poorest of the poor by charging 40-60% interest rates just so they can disingenuously claim ~99% repayment rates. The uber-high interest rates being charged are then used to paper over the large number of loans that default (what a surprise that the poorest of the poor can’t afford to repay worse-than-loanshark loans).

If you don’t give a crap about the poor, and only want cheap points and have months to wait for your cash back, KIVA may be right for you. But for anyone with a conscience, KIVA is as dirty as it gets – a scummy product wrapped in a “feel good” wrapper.

If you are interested in lending to the poor, go patronize sites like Zidisha – places that offer these borrowers rates as low as 5-10% all-in.

JK
Guest
JK

Thanks for your fix. worked well in firefox. However I ran into another error: Kivalens for me seem to only pull near expiring loans, instead of all of the loans. Tried many times without any filters.

Is this happening to others? Appreciate any ideas on how to fix it! thanks.

David
Guest
David

I also notice for the last 3 months that I cannot transfer the funds from kivalens to the kiva.org website without having “the amount requested for some loans could not be added to your basket. For these loans, we’ve added the maximum amount available instead.” I do a lot of loans per months as none of the loans are in my basket. So, is it a IT gitch as I tried with many attempts and used different computers to see if it was mine but nothing seems to work correctly?