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Could banks be the consumers’ data champion

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Someone made an interesting comment about Google this week: banks can attack Google’s soft underbelly.



Soft underbelly?

And banks can attack it?

You must be joking.

The presenter (Conor McAleavey, Chief Innovatoin Officer with Leveris) went on to outline what he meant and, as he talked about it, I thought there may be something in this.  The question is whether banks have the gumption to actually think about doing it.

So Conor’s idea is this: Google gives us searches, email, storage and more for free, on the basis that we allow them to mine and use our data.  They claim that they won’t be evil, but are they using our data ethically and is all above board?

Not everyone thinks so, such as Mike Adams on Natural Newswho claims that Google is the most evil corporation in the world “for its outrageous censorship, collusion with spy agencies and blatant attempts to propagandize the world with dishonest, deceitful information about everything from politics to natural medicine”.

Hmmm …. interesting that I found that article via Google.

But why would someone trust a bank more than Google with the data.  Here’s the idea.

Banks are trusted stores of data about money, because they are insured and have a licence to operate from governments.  If the bank started to monetize our data on our behalf and give it back to us, wouldn’t that make a difference?

Let’s say every banking transaction is free, if you’re happy to watch an ad.  The advertiser pays the bank 5 cents per viewing, which gives the bank a revenue stream and benefits the customer with free services.

Take it a step further: you watch the ad for a new Audi A4 vehicle, and then an option comes up to fill in a survey.  If you complete the survey, you get €5.  The survey completed, and it’s all about how old your car is and when will it be replaced, and you then get another option to test drive the new Audi A4 for €50 payment.

Audi wins with a potential new client and the customer wins with a potentially new car, funded by a bank loan, all operated in real-time.

Now I don’t buy into this whole idea – where will searches take place if Google disappears (Bing?) – but can see that there is and always has been a potential for banks to do more with data.  In fact, we talked about infomediaries twenty years ago, where we would delegate our digital lives to information agents with artificial intelligence who would od everything on our behalf.  They would find our insurances for us, for the best price with the best cover.  They would sort out our shopping and groceries, co-ordinating between the fridge and the supermarket.  They would advise us of the weather and what to wear.

The whole idea was one step on from Siri and Alexa, combining the personal knowledge of our needs with proactive artificial intelligence to find things.   In this context, a bank could be also integrated into this ecosystem through APIs, to work in synchronisation in getting deals and discounts, creating loyalty wallets and cashing in points on an as needed basis.

Perhaps the combination of chatbots, intelligent agents, machine learning and co-ordinating and integrating data across social, commercial and financial will get interesting, and if a bank could find its way into that ecosystem of data sharing, then yes, I could see Conor’s idea becoming a reality.


Postscript: the contingency to achieving a position like this is that the bank needs to be part of a marketplace of data sharing in an open sourced structure. 



Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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