This week Finance Monthly hears from Simon Rodway, a solutions architect at Entersekt, on the potential and realistic impacts of Libra on the traditional banking system.
The social media giant Facebook announced in June that it has developed a cryptocurrency dubbed Libra and plans to launch it early next year. While some may dismiss it as just more hype, the sheer dominance of Facebook in people’s social lives gives it huge potential to disrupt banking and payments as we know it today.
The company claims that Libra will improve the way we send money online, making it faster and cheaper, as well as improving access to financial services – even for those without bank accounts or limited access to traditional banking. It will be based on a blockchain platform called the Libra Network and Facebook says that it will run faster than other cryptocurrencies, making it ideal for purchasing and sending money quickly. Importantly, Libra will not be managed by Facebook itself; rather, by the Libra Association – a not-for-profit organisation comprised of 28 companies (so far) from around the world such as Paypal, Lyft and Coinbase. It aims to sign up 100 companies by the time the cryptocurrency is launched.
One thing’s for sure: it’s going to be an interesting development to watch, especially in the wake of Facebook’s cryptocurrency wallet company Calibra’s David Marcus presenting his testimony to the United States Congress banking committee. The result was that Facebook would “take time to get this right” and there would be no launch until all concerns could be fully addressed.
So, even though it’s still early days, Libra has given us a lot to think about. Ill-informed speculation and click bait aside, there are legitimate concerns around fraud – with reports already of over one hundred fake domains being set up relating to Libra. There are also the money laundering and financial risk concerns.
In terms of the impact and financial risk, most of what we’re hearing is coming from within the more established financial sectors. They’re either dismissing Libra as noise or decrying it as a vehicle for potential terrorist activities – something, they say, that regulators won’t allow to happen, despite Calibra openly reporting its intention to work with said regulators and policymakers to ensure the platform is secure, auditable and resilient.
At the same time, of course, they’re defending the current system, claiming that it works well, is safe and secure, and doesn’t support terrorism. But, if we’re honest, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems have, to date, been largely unable to stop the vast amounts of laundered funds from moving around. In addition, our Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Business (KYB) processes use data from the likes of Companies House, which has been heavily criticised for their own lack of data validation and governance.
All that aside, what’s become quite clear is that the existing system presents too many blockers for the poorer, under-banked members of our society. Those working in the UK, for example, and legitimately wanting to transfer their wages to their families in other countries, end up paying exorbitant banking fees, only to wait days for their funds to clear.
This is where Libra, with its vision for financial inclusion, could make a difference. And if Libra doesn’t make it happen this time around, the technology and conceptual design are essentially open source, so someone else will. The wheels are in motion, and financial institutions that ignore the trend do so at their peril.
They're not called Zuckerbucks but Facebook just reinvented digital money. Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency that will launch early next year is more like PayPal than Bitcoin — it's designed to be easy enough for everyone to use. But it's still complicated to understand so I'm going to break it down for you nice and simple.
Here Finance Monthly hears from Hannah Conway, Consultant at Brandpie, on exactly why shifts in consumer trust are what drive and alter the financial landscape.
The financial crisis of 2008 had far-reaching consequences, some of which can still be felt. Public trust in traditional banking institutions has eroded and brands in the sector are dealing with the reputational damages endured. One needn’t look further than Chase Bank capitalising on the trend of being relatable on social media only to face public wrath for bailouts that occurred ten years earlier.
Consumers have clearly not forgotten the crisis. In fact, the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer ranked financial services as the least trusted industry worldwide. In the same report, technology ranked as the most trusted. Silicon Valley flourished in the decade following the financial crisis, with organisations small and large introducing technologies that would come to revolutionise consumer finance.
In this landscape, tech conglomerates, have been able to make serious in-roads into different aspects of consumer finance, a process that shows no signs of waning.
Amazon was among the trailblazers innovating in this space, introducing one-click ordering as early as 2000. With an ecosystem boasting 310 million active customer accounts, over 100 million Prime subscribers and over 5 million sellers across 12 marketplaces, Amazon is no rookie. The retail giant is building an array of financial services to increase further participation in the Amazon ecosystem, ranging from payments infrastructure to Amazon Pay – which already has 33 million customers worldwide.
Amazon Cash, which launched in 2017, enables customers to deposit cash to their Amazon.com balance by showing a barcode at participating retailers. The cash is applied to their Amazon account immediately, giving “cash customers”, such as anyone who doesn’t have a bank account or debit and credit cards, the ability to shop on the e-tail giant.
The technological advancements in voice will ultimately enable Amazon to make further encroachments into consumer finance. Virtual assistant Alexa is set to dominate voice shopping, currently having the largest market share of smart speakers, more than twice that of its competitors, Google and Microsoft. Purchases processed through voice are expected to skyrocket to $40 billion by 2022. As consumers were already using the platform, the introduction of new customer-friendly payment experiences serve to further boost Amazon’s position.
The technological advancements in voice will ultimately enable Amazon to make further encroachments into consumer finance. Virtual assistant Alexa is set to dominate voice shopping, currently having the largest market share of smart speakers, more than twice that of its competitors, Google and Microsoft.
Apple has similarly made great strides in the space. ApplePay is already available in 33 countries, with over 250 million users worldwide.
CEO Tim Cook recently announced Apple Card, a new credit card, which is expected to be released in the US this summer before potentially being rolled out globally. Purchases from Apple’s physical stores, website, App Store or iTunes will come with a 3% cash back, with all other purchases at 1%, all in the form of Daily Cash, which will then be added in Apple’s Wallet app.
Apple is building an ecosystem which will see consumers use Apple products to pay, with the cash back options leading to more purchasing. In addition to the seamless customer experience across its portfolio, the giant is pushing privacy as its main differentiator, with its latest “Privacy Matters” commercial prime example. Apple wants to assure customers that all their private information on their phone is safe, with its new credit card offering similarly touting security and ease of use.
Facebook introduced peer-to-peer payment in its messenger app back in 2015, but it is the company’s subsidiary Instagram that is making significant in-roads to consumer finance.
Facebook usage might be steadily dwindling, but Instagram is on the rise. As Instagram is a highly visual medium and users have the feed to interact with their favourite brands, it was a logical next step that the network would introduce purchasing and payment mechanisms sooner rather than later. This became a reality earlier in the year with Instagram enabling in-app checkout for its shoppable posts. In April 2019, the offering was extended from brands to influencers, significantly boosting Instagram’s reach. Deutsche Bank analysts have already predicted Instagram’s move into social shopping could be worth $10 billion by as soon as 2021.
But while the West is fast encroaching this space, no one has managed to catch up to WeChat’s fast ascension into the sphere of digital payments. With over 1 billion active users, and thanks to its own in-app shopping and payment system, the Chinese social media network is a force to be reckoned with. It provides a seamless mobile lifestyle through which consumers can order food, send and receive money, pay utility bills, shop and more.
With over 1 billion active users, and thanks to its own in-app shopping and payment system, the Chinese social media network (WeChat) is a force to be reckoned with. It provides a seamless mobile lifestyle through which consumers can order food, send and receive money, pay utility bills, shop and more.
Social payments are the norm. Consumers can buy a friend a cup of coffee and send it through WeChat Pay. Busking musicians no longer expect coins or notes, they have signs with their WeChat Pay QR codes on them. WeChat Pay leads the way with over 600 million users, outranking most of its competitors. Tencent, the company that owns WeChat recently joined forces with JD.com, China’s leading e-commerce platform to cover both online and offline markets.
Thanks to the innovative way they use technology to communicate integrity, security and trust, as well as creating a better customer experience, tech organisations have seen younger generations and seasoned consumers alike gravitate towards digital-first offerings.
But while challengers were ahead of the curve in evaluating how consumers want to interact with banks, traditional players need not despair. From designing apps that introduce a more mobile-first offering to embracing cutting-edge tech, such as AI and IoT, to enable predictive and hyper-personalised interactions, there is plenty traditional banks can do to create captivating customer journeys to meet customers’ ever-evolving expectations.
The cryptocurrency jumped nearly 200% since the beginning of April.
Michael Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Digital, joins "Squawk Box" to discuss what might be behind the surge.
Nigel Green, the founder and chief executive of deVere Group, is speaking after the social media giant this week set out details of Libra, its own digital currency, to be launched next year.
Mr Green affirms: “Facebook’s launch into cryptocurrencies tells us two things.
“First, the role of traditional banks will decline at a quicker rate than many had previously predicted. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency will be able to transact across traditional payment rails. They have partnered with PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Stripe, amongst others to fuel merchant acceptance of the digital currency.
“If you have cryptocurrency on these payment methods, the purpose of and use for traditional banks will surely shrink.
“Cryptocurrencies and fintech [financial technology] solutions are already taking business away from banks. They are filling a gap left by the traditional way of doing things as the world speeds up and becomes increasingly globalised and digitalised.
“The jump into cryptocurrencies – which are the future of money – by Facebook which already has 2.7 billion users can really only be seen as another nail in the coffin for banks.”
He continues: “Second, tech giants entering the cryptocurrency sector indicates that digital money, as a concept, is fully mainstream and inevitably the way the world is going. This is something we have been arguing for a long time now – despite protestations from financial traditionalists.
“Where Facebook leads, others will inevitably follow, and this will quicken the pace of mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.”
The deVere CEO concludes: “This is a major development in the crypto-verse and it is surely just the beginning. This is set to revolutionise how people access, manage and use money across the world and it will positively disturb the wider banking sector. Banking as we have known it until now is coming to an end.”
(Source: deVere Group)
A study by City Index revealed the financial reports of the worlds biggest brands to reveal exactly how long it took each to make their first $1 billion, as well as how fast they make a billion today.
They compared this data to how fast it would take the world's biggest brands to make the average UK salary, and the results are mind-boggling:
Total Revenue: $500,343,000,000
First Billion:18 years
Latest Billion: 0.7 days
Did you know?
While McDonald’s recently announced plans to roll out more self-service pay kiosks, Walmart revealed plans to bring more cashiers back. The move came after reports that self-service checkouts hadn’t helped operating margins and left customers unsatisfied.
Total Revenue: $265,595,000,000
First Billion: 14 years
Latest Billion: 1.4 days
Did you know?
In August 2018, Apple became the first public company in the world to hit the trillion-dollar mark after share prices rose to $207.05, sending the tech giant to all-new heights. This landmark moment came just 42 years after the company was founded.
Total Revenue: $177,866,000,000
First Billion: 5 years
Latest Billion: 2.1 days
Did you know?
In June 2018, Investopedia named America ‘the United States of Amazon’ as the company’s Prime memberships tipped over the 100m mark. Fast forward to September of the same year and the retail kings became the second $1 trillion company, just weeks after Apple became the first to hit this impressive milestone.
Total Revenue: $131,537,000,000
First Billion: 110 years
Latest Billion: 2.8 days
Did you know?
Walgreens recently revealed it had spent $500 million on building, testing, and implementing new IT systems for its US stores, with plans to spend a further $500 million. This news came as the brand faced competition after CVS Heath bought out the country’s third largest health insurer and Amazon announced plans to enter the pharmacy market
Total Revenue: $110,855,000,000
First Billion: 5 years
Latest Billion: 3.3 days
Did you know?
Google was fined $2.7 billion for breaching European Union antitrust rules in June 2017 after it was found to be using its search engine to steer users to its own shopping platform. Luckily for the tech giants, this figure was dwarfed by its $110 billion revenue in the same year.
Total Revenue: $110,360,000,000
First Billion: 15 years
Latest Billion: 3.3 days
Did you know?
In October 2018, Microsoft announced it had acquired coding platform GitHub for $7.5bn, expanding the brand’s developer tool and services offering. The deal is rumoured to have made GitHub’s three founders billionaires.
Total Revenue: $71,879,000,000
First Billion: 87 years
Latest Billion: 5.1 days
Did you know?
In a bid to fend off competition from Amazon and bring its business model up to date, Target purchased same-day delivery service Shipt in 2017 for $550 million. Target is hoping that its $99 annual Shipt membership ($20 cheaper than Amazon Prime) and commitment to delivering a wider range of products will see it eat into Amazon’s profits throughout 2019.
Total Revenue: $59,434,000,000
First Billion: 69 years
Latest Billion: 6.1 days
Did you know?
The bidding war to takeover 21st Century Fox isn’t the first time Disney and Comcast have come to blows. In 2004, Disney curbed Comcast’s unsolicited bid to take it over, which caused a huge rift between Disney CEO Bob Iger and Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts.
Total Revenue: $40,653,000,000
First Billion: 6 years
Latest Billion: 9 days
Did you know?
Facebook shares were down 7% in March 2018 after a data scandal dominated the headlines around the world, equating to an estimated loss of $40 billion. Chief Strategy Officer of GBH Insights, Daniel Ives, commented that the social media channel could lose $5 billion in annual revenue if it failed to assure its users and government agencies.
Total Revenue: $31,271,000,000
First Billion: 7 years
Latest Billion: 11.7 days
Did you know?
With around 26,000 employees worldwide, Time Warner’s impressive entertainment property portfolio includes Warner Bros., HBO, New Line, and Cartoon Network. Blockbusters such as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, and It contributed to the company’s $31.3 billion revenue in 2017.
“Potential for growth in today’s market is significantly greater than before”
Fiona Cincotta, a Senior Market Analyst at www.cityindex.co.uk, said: “The markets have changed dramatically over the past 30 years, not just in composition, but also how quickly a firm can grow. From the data, the earlier the business was founded, the longer it took to reach its first billion in revenue.
“While firms founded at the turn of the last century, such as Walgreens or Target, have taken over 100 years to hit the $1 billion mark, more recently founded companies such as Facebook or Amazon have hit the milestone in next to no time. Potential for growth in today’s market is significantly greater than before.
“It also comes as no surprise that while tech firms and retailers are among the quickest companies to hit $1 billion in revenue, but traditional retailers are the slowest. This is yet another piece of evidence highlighting the struggles that more traditional retailers on the high street are up against as shopper’s habits move away from bricks and mortar stores to online shopping and technology."
(Source: City Index)
Back in July Finance Monthly reported on how much your personal data was worth on the dark web.
Price comparison experts Money Guru conducted research on several dark web marketplaces and uncovered that criminals can buy your details on the dark web for less than a coffee. In fact, email logins could be bought for as little as £2.10, and Facebook logins for £3.
Sadly, data breaches are becoming a common occurrence. In the past few months alone British Airways, Reddit, HMRC and Ticketmaster have all been hit.
New research from Money Guru shows that the cost of personal data on the dark web has reduced significantly following Facebook’s recent data breach.
How Much Is Your Data Worth Now?
Your data, which can include everything from banking details to social media logins, is worth less than you might think to hackers and scammers.
Following the Facebook data breach hacked Facebook account details are now being sold on the dark web for as little as £0.77 ($1). This is £2.23 ($2.90) down from Money Guru’s previous findings earlier in June 2018.
They also found that hacked Instagram credentials are available on the dark web for as little as £1.91 ($2.50), down £2.89 ($3.80) and that hacked Twitter accounts are being sold for as little as £0.61 ($0.80), a reduction £1.89 ($2.50).
However, that wasn’t all that the price comparison expert discovered during their research.
Money Guru discovered tools and guides to help people hack into Facebook accounts available on the dark web for as little as £1.29 ($1.70), and similar tools for Instagram for £0.87 ($1.15) and Twitter for £0.87 ($1.15).
The personal finance experts discovered tools to help hack Gmail, commit phishing attacks and bypass phone verification available on the dark web for as little as £0.87 ($1.15). They are also found a plaintext database of Twitter account details with millions of emails and passwords available for £31.86 ($41.60).
Staying Safe Online
Deborah Vickers, channel director at moneyguru.com said: “Our social media accounts put our lives under a microscope and these details are frequently stolen and sold to unscrupulous companies so they can target you with advertising. By using your data against you, criminals can lock you out and take control of your accounts, which could cause serious reputational and financial worry.
“Rather concerningly all three dark web markets that we researched (Wall Street Market, Dream Market and Burlusconi Market) are currently offering ‘164m LinkedIn user records’ including separate pieces of information such as email addresses, names, passwords for only £7.65 ($9.99).
“However, it seems that as more data breaches occur, the more aware the general public are becoming of the issue which could be causing the significant price drops of personal data on the dark web. Our research into personal data and how much it's actually worth on the black market is shocking to say the least. It just goes to show how vital it is to protect your data where possible to avoid facing costly consequences.”
So What Data Can Criminals Buy on the Dark Web?
The marketplaces Money Guru searched were ‘Dream Market’, ‘Burlusconi Market’ and ‘Wall St Market’ (three of the most popular current markets since the fall of the Silk Road) all of which provide goods including:
Since the beginning of the digital age, the financial industry has gone through a shake-up, and it is now estimated financial services make up 14% of spend is invested in online marketing channels. However, attributing the success of these channels throughout the customer journey, whether online or offline, is proving to be a common challenge within this sector.
According a study by Experian, 51% of financial businesses are relying on simplistic, inaccurate forms of marketing attribution, while some are using none at all, meaning they have no clear, data-driven insights into which channels are driving the most conversions and ultimately the highest return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, considering it takes six to eight touchpoints before a sale, determining the success of each channel should form the foundation for allocating marketing budget to avoid wastage.
To achieve this level of understanding, the financial sector needs to start introducing multi-touch attribution (allocating credit to every conversion (a completed call-to action such as filling a contact form, accessing a live chat or picking up the phone within the customer journey) to evaluate their marketing success. However, getting to grips with this can be tricky.
Here’s exactly why multi-touch attribution is key to shaping the future of marketing for the finance sector.
Out of all the marketing platforms available, paid search is appearing as one of the most successful within the financial sector. According to research by Growthpoint, the finance industry has one of the highest paid search conversion rates at 7.19%; indicating that many consumers are using paid search throughout their journey. However, they also have the third most expensive average cost-per-click (CPC) at $3.72.
When looking into the most popular keywords for financial advisers in Google Keyword Planner (see above), it’s clear the average CPC increases substantially, with ’independent financial adviser’, ’financial adviser near me’ and ’financial advice’ appearing as the top three most expensive keywords. Considering that high cost paid search expense seems inevitable for those in this sector, staying ahead of the game and determining how much ROI paid search is driving for your business is crucial.
Instead of blindly throwing money at the most obvious keywords, the smart financial marketer needs to be thinking of how they can optimise their other keywords to reduce the cost of customer acquisition, whilst maintaining click and conversion rates. To do this they need to attribute how effective particular keywords are throughout the customer journey.
For example, although the digital presence of the finance industry has grown rapidly in recent years, it doesn’t mean that consumers are no longer converting offline, for example by picking up the phone. In fact, a recent survey found that consumers are 2.8 times likelier to call from a paid search ad for financial services than other industries when researching their options.
Let’s say you’re a mortgage adviser who is bidding on the term ’best fixed rate mortgage rate’. How exactly can you attribute the number of phone calls this keyword has driven throughout a customer’s journey?
Call tracking attribution software from Mediahawk, allows you to connect them all, and the activity that generated the call, together, enabling you to analyse the impact phone calls have during the customer journey to determine campaign success. It can also show the full value of the mortgages generated from this specific keyword enabling you to attribute your full ROI from paid search.
Price Comparison Sites
As we’ve already stated, digital marketing is proving to be a popular, yet expensive choice for the finance sector. However, the prospect of high-value conversions means being competitive in this market doesn’t come cheap and these channels include price comparison sites.
When it comes to finance, no consumer wants to feel like they’ve overpaid for a policy for instance, or a mortgage or loan; which is why 60% of consumers are ’very likely’ to use a price comparison site when researching or buying a financial product.
Considering that they’re playing such a crucial role in the customer journey, financial services should certainly advertise on price comparison sites to drive desired results and profits. But this is a rather saturated market and future growth can depend on any changes that might occur to the comparison sites themselves. Therefore, the most successful financial marketers will be those who can hold their position on price comparison sites whilst optimising other channels to achieve growth.
By optimising other channels, such as social media, remarketing and PPC (pay-per-click) whilst maintaining efficient price comparison site coverage, financial businesses can prevent themselves from becoming too reliant on a singular advertising outlet, compensate the costs created from the comparison sites and continue to drive traffic through less costly methods. Determining the success of these campaigns can be a difficult task when financial businesses are using their current marketing tools. With the extensive digital competition that financial marketers are facing, an effective marketing measurement solution is essential for staying ahead, which is where multi-touch attribution comes in.
By making a correlation between actions and revenue, multi-touch attribution can paint the full picture of marketing effectiveness and highlight opportunities to optimise campaigns further. This is essential for finding an even balance between advertising on price comparison sites and external marketing activities.
Paid Social Media
Although it might not appear as an obvious choice, social media is becoming a popular marketing platform for the financial services industry with more and more companies using various platforms for consumer retention. According to research conducted by Community Rising on social media within the financial sector, 87% of respondents said their business uses Facebook, while 52% are using Twitter and 47% are using LinkedIn. The advantages of paid social media are clear and, although it won’t drive as many last-click conversions, it plays a crucial role in portraying a positive image of your company and building brand identity.
In a world where competition is significantly fiercer for financial services, and where it is considerably more expensive to obtain new customers than keep existing ones on board, paid social media is providing a clever, new way for financial businesses to market themselves. However, it isn’t without its issues. Typically, social media platforms play a more nurturing role within the customer journey and lack any real influence at the beginning or end of path to purchases. This means that when it comes to measuring effectiveness, both first and last-click attribution models have become obsolete.
To really understand the vital role paid social media platforms play in financial marketing, a data-driven multi-touch attribution model is essential. By incorporating, into your reporting, exactly how often social media is used during the customer journey you can obtain real insights to aid decision-making over strategy and spend. Furthermore, you can home in on specific channels to maximise your optimisation efforts.
Thursday's plunge knocked roughly $120 billion in market value off the tech stock and is dragging the rest of the sector lower. Before Thursday, Facebook's largest single-day loss came in July 2012 when it shed 11%. The company missed projections on key metrics after struggling with data leaks and fake news scandals.
The Cambridge Analytica revelations have put the issue of data privacy front and centre in the minds of consumers, policy-makers and businesses. Facebook has taken up much of the media’s attention but with other recent and notable data breaches involving many millions of customer credentials, companies are being scrutinised for their data-handling practices like never before. Below Finance Monthly gains expert insight from Nick Caley, VP of Financial Services and Regulatory at ForgeRock, who delves deep into the implications of the data scandal on open banking.
In this era of heightened privacy awareness, it’s clear that there will be implications for businesses across all sectors.
This all raises significant questions for the financial sector. At a time when the banking industry is seeking to open up and encourage data sharing as part of the Open Banking initiative how should banks react to growing concerns from consumers about the risks and realities of online data sharing?
Firstly, UK banks need to prepare for their data management capabilities to be put under extra scrutiny. Banks are already well underway with their preparations for the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect in May, and this provides them a solid foundation to work from.
However, the flurry of headlines around data protection and privacy will certainly make consumers more nervous about how and where their data is being used and, as a result, banks must be extra vigilant in order to maintain and grow customers’ trust.
For those already familiar with these issues, the reaction to the Cambridge Analytica story will not have come as a surprise. In a survey commissioned by ForgeRock before the Facebook revelations, only a third (36%) of UK consumers said they would be happy to share data in order to get a more personalised service. Yet over half (53%) said they would not be comfortable for their personal information to be shared with a third party under any circumstances at all. At the same time,
57% of UK consumers said they were worried about how much personal data they have shared online and 63% admitted that they know little or nothing about their rights regarding their own data.
Although this presents a challenge, incumbent banks do hold a considerable advantage over fintech companies and challenger banks when it comes to asking customers to share data: they are already trusted entities with a long track record of safely storing and managing customer data. As such, the demands of securing API access to high value customer data has been the focus of most Bank’s security teams for years. Investment in security expertise, well defined security operations and the latest technologies being tested ‘under fire’ and ‘at scale’ on a continuous basis lead to much greater levels of assurance. Standards such as OAuth 2, Open ID Connect and User Managed Access, which authenticate and authorize only trusted third parties, reinforce this access control model.
Our research shows that consumers do tend to trust banks and financial services companies to handle their personal data responsibly, especially when compared to more digitally native companies. ForgeRock’s survey found that banks and credit card companies were amongst the most trusted holders of personal data, with over 80% of UK consumers saying they trusted banks and credit card companies to store and use their data responsibly. In comparison, just 63% said they would trust social networks with the same data. This is very positive news for the UK banking sector particularly at a time when Open Banking is set to unleash a new wave of competition from digital-first competitors.
Why are banks considered trustworthy? Our research revealed a clear correlation between how in control of their data consumers feel, and how much they trust companies. Banks and credit card companies were ranked among the organisations that gave users most control over their data. This suggests that, particularly at a time when attention is being paid to data policies and privacy controls, banks must continue to invest in systems and processes that put control over data firmly in the hands of users.
The management of customer consent must be central to this strategy as it will only be possible to maintain and build trust if customers know they can turn data sharing on and off at their convenience. Putting consumers more in control of their data through consent and giving users transparency and control over how and under what circumstances their information can be used will allow banks to not only ensure compliance with Open Banking and GDPR, but also establish a basis on which they can build trusted relationships with their customers. They will then be well-placed to offer additional, more personalised services to their existing customers, allowing them to add valuable real time, context-based insights and offers for users, that in turn will create new revenue opportunities.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal combined with the regulatory changes that GDPR and Open Banking will bring appears to mark a turning point in how businesses approach issues around data sharing. The good news for banks is that they are already starting from a strong position as trusted holder of personal data. They now have a real opportunity to build on this and become true leaders in the next era of digital finance - by giving customers greater visibility, choice and control over their own data.
Finance professionals in the UK and across the globe will have been keeping their eyes on the ongoing developments at Facebook and assessing the business implications emerging from the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica furore. Earlier this month, Facebook Founder and Chief Mark Zuckerburg appeared before Congress in the US to discuss his company’s activities and the alleged misuse of personal data. It proved a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Facebook and shone a light onto how we, as individuals, are ‘willingly’ sharing our data with platforms. The truth of the matter is, not everyone understands the process and benefits such as data sharing can bring - not just to the technology industry, but a variety of sectors and stakeholders from retail to finance, and to both advertisers and consumers.
Despite the guidelines on sharing third party data of thekrogerfeedback for winning $5000 that are already in place, the issue has called into question whether the practice requires further regulation so that lawmakers, industry regulators, advertisers, publishers, financiers, brands and consumers alike are clear on how and when it is acceptable to share personal information.
Facebook is in an unusual position where increased regulation in its platform would likely benefit its business. In fact, it has even welcomed closer regulation on social media, and has offered to develop further thoughts on self-regulation. The social media behemoth has the infrastructure to absorb any impact increased regulation would have on its business, but is this true of its competitors?
Publishers such as Facebook have a choice of how they use their own data, but everyone involved in the industry, including financiers, should be striving for transparency, choice and true customer centricity. Increased regulation is there to protect the consumer in the event of malpractice, bad actors or misuse of personal data. This is a unanimously positive move, and those who put their customers first will continue to survive and thrive.
Our world is becoming more and more data-driven. The opportunities to leverage this data are plenty and benefit all parties, but they need to be done in an ethical, privacy-compliant way that assists the customer rather than exploits them. Greater clarity and regulation that focuses on eliminating the latter - and not inhibiting the former - should be welcomed with open arms by all stakeholders.
Facebook has a wealth of personal data that is volunteered by its members - in effect creating the largest identity graph in the world today. Regulation has to ensure that Facebook - as well as any others in the publisher community - is transparent with how that data is collected and used. To this extent, the impact of regulation should be to create a level playing field and promote the democratisation of data.
The challenge comes when advertisers decide where to spend their budgets. Marketers have more choices than ever and can reach consumers in thousands of places online. The use of third-party data both inside and beyond Facebook’s walls is the means to providing that choice. The alternative is for Facebook to monopolise targeted advertising, which would be bad for the industry as a whole.
If advertisers want to allocate their spend across multiple publishers and platforms, it makes sense to be able to leverage standardised data models and apply them everywhere, rather than building custom models across every touch point. LiveRamp enables this neutrality and agnosticism, and provides a secure and privacy compliant connection to any destination platforms an advertiser wishes to use.
Advertisers’ data is one of their most valuable assets, and they need to be comfortable when sharing it with platforms and publishers like Facebook. More stringent regulations concerning personal data can serve to give advertisers the peace of mind that their data is secure, and allow them to confidently demonstrate its ethical use whenever called upon to do so.
This can only work if data providers source and govern their data in ethical, privacy-compliant ways. The best models and experiences draw from multiple ethical data sources working together, all with the best interests of the customer at heart.
Advertisers need to look out for themselves, their customers and their own data. They should seek to adhere to ethical practices and work only exclusively with experienced and ethical partners.
I believe increased regulation has the potential to benefit not only Facebook but also its competitors. Increased transparency in any industry, be it the financial or tech sector, should make it easier for businesses and consumers to connect and interact, unlocking additional value for both. Regulation, if designed and imposed correctly, can help consumers hold greater control of how their data is used while allowing businesses to use it more responsibly and efficiently.
The controversy surrounding Facebook and privacy issues has made news headlines. However, data brokerage and the miss-use of information is nothing new.
The subtle manipulation of the way in which users respond to certain information stimuli is currently a hot topic of conversation. This after the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal literally broke the internet in a way that no amount of funny cat video footage has ever managed to do. Whilst it certainly is no surprise that Facebook users find this kind of intrusion on privacy and thought manipulation to be exceptionally disturbing, it is interesting to note that many people consider this to be news, when in fact, it has been going on for a very, very long time. The only difference being that it was called by a different name.
The truth is, data, or information brokers have been around and doing business for almost as long as what the internet is old. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and its not bound to come crashing down anytime soon. In many ways, the need for this type of intellectual trade is fuelled by everything from over-supply to economic recessions.
Companies have become increasingly more desperate to get a grip on effective marketing in order to sell their products to the best possible target market. Making the most profit from the least amount of effort and capital input has become the driving force behind every conceivable marketing strategy under the sun.
Information Is Money
Data brokers collect everything from census information, motor vehicle and driving records, court reports and voter registration lists, to medical records and internet browsing histories. The idea is to gather as much information about every conceivable human profile as possible.
This information is then categorised and grouped into typical market profiles, providing an in-depth analysis on everything from religious affiliation, political affiliation, household income and occupation to investment habits and product preferences.
It doesn’t require a technological genius to see why this information is worth thousands of dollars.
Individuals are usually not able to determine exactly what is known about them by data brokers. Most data brokers hold on to the information that they have obtained for an indefinite period of time. Loosely translated: the information may very well never go away. Part of the efficacy of the gleaning process is that historical information can be compared with the latest information in order to better determine customer trends as well as the rate at which certain dynamics evolve.
A very scary thought indeed, especially considering the fact that entities like social media giant Facebook still consider allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica to continue trolling its pages from an insider’s perspective, knowing full well that this is the case.
More Than Marketing
Moving away from the manipulative marketing point of view, information in general can be a very sensitive issue. The truth is, somewhere along the line, many of us have dabbled outside the borders of a marriage or relationship or have even discussed sensitive information relating to criminal behaviour and activities with contacts via instant messaging apps.
It’s safe to say that most of us would pay considerable amounts of cash in order to protect information of this nature, especially since the leaking of this information to interested parties can have dire effects on the very quality of our lives.
When considered in this light, blackmailing activities become a real and imminent danger, no longer something found only in crime and drama series on television. There’s also the risk of users information being used in scams, and con-artists are well versed in identity theft and assuming other peoples data as their own.
Its Free For A Reason
People have long been aware about the many dangers of over-sharing information on social media. Many people have fallen prey to identity theft and have lost everything but the clothes on their backs due to this. Imagine now the dire nature of the situation now that the problem is no longer criminals trolling social media pages that have not been sufficiently hidden from the public eye, but instead, are being handed sensitive information on a silver platter, for a minimal fee.
The question begs: is Facebook more than just a social media platform? Or has it been headed towards being a modern-day surveillance tool all along?
Perhaps there is a more sinister reason behind the fact that its free, and always will be, than what meets the eye.