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Bots that manage your privacy controls; the use of telco data in public health; how your phone bill can be your credit rating. These are just three of the many fascinating ideas to emerge from MEF’s discussion at Money 20/20 on the personal data opportunity. Session moderator Tim Green shares his highlights…

In previous years, the ‘future of financial services’ show Money 20/20 might have been dominated by card fees or M&A. These days, one topic dominates – data.

Last month’s Money 20/20 in Copenhagen was fixated on PSD2. This imminent EU regulation mandates that banks must open up their data.

Thus, for the first time in history, people will be able to share their bank records with third parties in order to understand more about their habits, plan for the future, personalise the products they want to buy and more.

The truth is, no one knows exactly what new services could emerge. But everyone agrees, it’s a big deal.

PSD2 is, of course, a huge part of a wider drive to give people back control of their personal data.

This movement is being led by an unusual alliance of free thinkers, academics, start-ups and also large enterprises with trusted customer relationships – like banks and telcos.

MEF is at the heart of this ‘internet of me’ vision. Which is why is was invited to convene a special panel for Money 20/20: The power, potential and perils of personal data: How regulation is driving innovation

The panellists comprised:

  • Glyn Povah, New Business Development , Telefónica Digital
  • Cecile Wendling, Head of foresight , AXA
  • Katryna Dow, CEO and Founder , Meeco
  • Esme Harwood, Open Banking director , Barclays

It was an excellent session. You can watch it all below. Or you can consider these key take-aways…

Data is precious, and it’s time for individuals to get some value from it

This is probably THE driving force of the personal data economy argument. The digital era has seen billion dollar companies emerge (Facebook, Google) on the back of their ability to mine user data. Meanwhile companies like Uber, which don’t sell data itself, depend on user data to offer something better than their competitors.

And the people supplying the data? You and me? Sure, we get better services – sometimes. But we also get privacy intrusion.

Katryna Dow, CEO of Meeco, which helps individuals do more with their own data. On stage at Money 20/20 she said: “We are reliant on a service and also part of what enables that service…We have a consent engine that helps you decide what you want to share and under what terms. It could be with your bank or telco. It helps remove the friction of getting things done. The ability to access and give permission to your bank etc and then be part of the value thats created – everybody wins in that scenario.”

Watch the panel in full

Telco data can help people buy TVs on better terms

In developing economies, many people with stable incomes still cannot get credit. If they lack a bank account, it’s difficult for them to prove that they are a safe risk.

However, nearly all such individuals have a relationship with their mobile provider. And this track record can act as an indication of their financial history. Telefonica is already testing this in Chile.

Glyn Povah said: “Say someone wants to buy a TV. Now, they can ask for their Movistar history to be taken into consideration. It could help them get credit or improved repayment terms.”

    My assumptions was that people would share their bank data with Facebook. But all the research I’ve seen says absolutely not. Actually, the likely recipients will be other banks.”

When bank data is finally opened up, people will probably share it with, umm, other banks

At Money 20/20 there was no bigger topic than the Payment Services Directive 2. This new regulation will change payments by allowing Access to Accounts (XS2A). This means that banks will have to release APIs so that any third party – with permission – can access a bank account.

Many observers believe these third parties could include digital players like Facebook.

However, Esme Harwood, Open Banking director at Barclays, is not so sure. At Money 2020 she said: “One of my assumptions was that people would share their data with Facebook. But all the research I’ve seen says it’s absolutely not. Actually, the likely recipients will be other banks. It shows that trust is still a really important factor in the sharing of data.”

In France, insurance companies get advice from philosophers

The French insurance company Axa has been at the forefront of a drive to be more open about data. After much internal debate, it decided to share with customers why it pays out some claims, and why is doesn’t for others. This was a risk, but the decision to be transparent proved a success.

Axa’s Cecile Wendling said: “All the results show that people like what we do and they encourage to keep doing it.”

    In developing economies, many people with stable incomes still cannot get credit. However, nearly all such individuals have a relationship with their mobile provider. This track record can act as an indication of their financial history.”

So Axa created a specialist data panel to debate these kinds of decisions. It includes academics, legal experts and even philosophers. C’est tres Francais.

People don’t care about privacy. Until something goes wrong. Then it’s the only thing they care about

In any discussion of data privacy, one topic always comes up: do people care? One school of thought says that social norms have changed. It argues that social media sharing has eroded people’s concern about privacy.

Dow disagrees. At Money 20/20 she accepted that individuals rarely ever think about data privacy – until there’s a breach. “No, they don’t care. Yes, they care – the minute something goes wrong,” she says. “Then, that attitude shifts fundamentally. Why can’t we move from convenience or privacy to convenience AND privacy? When people realise they don’t have to make a trade off, and they realise the importance of their data and identity… then we can move the conversation to that being built in.”

In fact, there is evidence that supports Dow’s position. The Global Consumer Trust Report 2017 from MEF revealed the rise of a ‘savvy consumer. It found 75 per cent of people ‘always or sometimes read privacy policies’ before signing up to a mobile app or service.

Your insurance or telco data could help society run better…

In the past, mobile networks have referred to some of their user data as ‘waste product’. For example, a telco can trace the movement of every one of its customers at all times. But what good is this? Well, it turns out this data could be extraordinarily useful to all of society.

For example, it could even tackle disease. By analysing the movement of people, health authorities could detect when large sections of the population are staying at home.

Glyn Povah said: “We can use big data for social good. It’s something we should be leading on, and healthcare could be one of biggest prizes. So we could spot an epidemic from the movement of crowds – and possibly do it quicker than the authorities.”

A personal bot assistant could make data decisions on your behalf

One of the greatest wishes of the most militant personal data economy proponents is to give people the ability to dictate their own Ts & Cs. This would eradicate the one-size-fits-all user agreements that many customers hate so much.

But in reality, this is not feasible. One can’t expect a digital organisation to have millions of different agreements.

However, bots or personal assistants could change this. If everyone had a bot that represented them, they could program it with their own privacy choices. Then, when interacting with an enterprise, the two digital entities could trade data on terms that suit both sides.

Facebook and Google may need to change…

The combination of new regulation and rising data awareness in individuals will change things for the giant digital companies. That was the view of Katryna Dow. She said: “Their business models will need to evolve because saying ‘share a photo and we will monetise that’, it’s just not equitable. Because that data point -is actually worth a lot and people are people are waking up to it.”

Tim Green

Features Editor, MEF Minute