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.
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.
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”
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:
I haven’t tried these solutions yet, but either one of these should work:
The Firefox solution is to change the Silverlight Plug-in to “Always Activate”
- 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.