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The role of an infomediary

Years ago, I was writing about the role of an infomediary. The idea was that there should be a broker between customer’s data and their service providers. Unfortunately, that role has become four companies for those in the Americas and two for those in Asia: Amazon, Facebook (Meta), Google (Alphabet), Twitter (Block), Tencent and Alibaba.

What was the original idea is that consumers would have their data and would sell it; instead, consumers have sold their data for free services. If the service is free, you are the product. Can we get it back?

There are many saying we can, we should, and we will. But will the owners of our data allow it? I don’t think so … unless the government says so.

The issue here is around the value of data. If your data is valuable, who should own it? how should they use it? who gives them the authority to use it? and how do you manage this structure?

Again, I’ve said for quite a while that banks could be data vaults, brokering data on behalf of users. They could be the infomediaries. Instead, we’ve sleep-walked into a world where the data brokers are big tech firms who give us no value back for our data, apart from their free services.

What if that world changed?

As we talk about a decentralised world of services, the user could end up with their own decentralised data bank. Even just using that phrase decentralised data bank makes me realise that we are facing a world of data banks.

Data banks.

Who owns my data bank?

There are three contenders: the big tech firms who give me free services; an infomediary who brokers my data for me; and me, myself, I.

Who is the best owner of my data bank?

Me, myself, I, obvs. But then we can have delegation of authority. I can give my data to Amazon to get better access to products and services; I can allocate my data to an infomediary to intermediate my data value and monetize it; I can keep my data to myself to avoid interventions.

Between data banks and digital identities, we have the same issue. The issue? We have not managed this process. We have instead allowed a natural evolution of corporate activity to leverage data and identity with little oversight or regulation.

Now, when I talk a Big Regression, governments are trying to wind the clock back to catch up. They’ve realised that the big tech firms have taken over too much control of citizens’ identities and data, and they need to bring it back. After all, the danger is that if you lose control and lose management of citizens, you lose governance and the ability to control.

There’s a fascinating battle taking place here between citizens, corporations, big tech and government. The battle is all about who owns the data. Who should own the data? Me, myself, I.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, 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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