Many firms help businesses crunch data on their customers. Until recently, few have offered those services to the consumers themselves. Now a number of start-ups are offering “data lockers”, secure online locations where people can gather information on themselves, including their consumption patterns—utility bills, loyalty-card statements, telephone records and so on.
By helping them to retrieve those data in the first place, locker firms hope to give privacy-conscious consumers more control over what information organisations hold about them. They also aim to help people to reuse it for their own benefit. Consumers might give details of their past energy bills to price-comparison engines, to find them better deals. They could let retailers peek at their spending patterns in return for discounts. Shane Green of Personal, one such locker provider, thinks individuals who make full use of their personal data might one day earn $1,000 a year in benefits and savings.
By helping consumers compile comprehensive profiles of their habits and preferences, they may in return be granted much richer data than they could collect without their customers’ co-operation. Mr Louman says some large businesses already pay locker firms to deliver to their employees digital copies of their pay slips and pension statements. That saves the firms money, and keeps the locker service free to consumers.
Via the Economist