Babel PR recently hosted a virtual roundtable on behalf of Enveil, a data security company specialising in homomorphic encryption, to discuss data monetisation and the role of technology that’s driving it. Organisations from multiple sectors have always had access to a tremendous amount of client and transactional information, and the pressure to leverage that data as alternative revenue streams has increased. This session set out to address this, as well as the privacy obligations institutions have in regards to their consumers data and the tech that can help them.
The panel was made up of Dr Ellison Anne Williams, CEO and Founder, Enveil; Jay Cline, Principle, PwC; Mark Settle, experienced CIO, author and Forbes contributor; and moderated by Simon Coughlin, Senior Campaign Director, Babel PR.
In this session, attendees were first introduced to the definition of data monetisation, where the panel explained that it was simply any use of data that created economic value, i.e. using data to make money. Jay Cline further explained that there were two types of data monetisation, being anonymous and personal. Anonymous is where the data used was never associated with a human, for example data produced by smart building sensors to optimise energy use; and personal is where personal data is used to generate more revenue through cross-selling, upselling or generating more effective ads. “The challenge and controversy of anonymous data monetisation is who owns the data?” said Cline. “Does the maker or the user of the platform that’s generating the data own it? Then, on the other hand, the challenges of personal data involve whether or not you have the right level of consent and transparency to use someone’s data in that manner.
Ellison Anne Williams continued to explain what opportunities monetisation can bring to organisations revolving around creating new revenue streams from data resources or assets, something that has been increasingly seen during the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In terms of revenue, it can either manifest as a data as a service type of offering, where you allow different customers to run searches and analytics over your data holdings, or as some kind of derivative product that’s offered and sold based on those data resources,” she said. “What’s not a huge opportunity in data monetisation is selling data in bulk as that has a whole different set of privacy regulations and obligations associated with it.”
Williams further explained that opportunities specifically for banks depend on the type of data that’s available to be potentially monetised. “It’s not only the customer-related data and the classic kind of data that you think of when talking monetisation, but you can also look at greatly monetising and creating revenue streams, which are never more important than in a time like Covid, from things like transaction data and other types of metadata about what’s going on within the financial services institution.”
It was repeated throughout the session that the opportunities for banks and other financial organisations are at a key point in time. “I think everybody’s always under pressure to find ways to maximise the value of the data that they have about their customers,” said Mark Settle. “But within the financial industry that’s even more so because so many financial service institutions have a variety of services. Every bank would like to capture all of your personal transactions and be your one-stop shopping centre, so I think the pressure is always there.”
However, Settle was keen to point out that data monetisation isn’t always about ‘money-grabbing’ – “Sometimes I think people come away with the impression that these larger financial institutions are these monoliths that are trying to find every possible way to tap into your wallet, but in fact behind the scenes there can be some very spirited debates about the extent to which consumer customer information is going to be shared across lines of business.”
Privacy in Data
The panel went on to discuss what banks can do to protect consumer data, and it was repeated as to how important transparency is when it comes to data. “Trust and transparency are key, obtaining and maintaining consumer trust on how you are handling and respecting the data that they are entrusted with by virtue of doing business is very important,” said Williams.
According to her, there are two considerations that have to be looked at from a privacy standpoint. One is the underlying data itself which will be the subject of the monetisation, i.e. customer-related data, transaction data or metadata etc. There are going to be privacy obligations associated with that data, and Williams stressed how it needs to be understood and respected during the monetisation process. The second privacy aspect to consider is the users of the monetisation data service or product itself. For example, if you have a data as a service offering, where you allow customers to search or analyse data assets or resources, you have to carefully consider what the privacy responsibilities are associated with those customers and their footprint while they are leveraging that data.
“The good news is that there are many technologies revolving around the respect and preservation of privacy,” said Williams. “There is a business-enabling family of technologies called ‘privacy enhancing technologies’ that allows both of those categories, the underlying data itself as well as the users of the monetisation platform or service to be uniquely respected.”
These technologies, that are seeing rapid adoption by regulators such as FCA, FinCEN and Singapore Monetary authority etc, enable, enhance and preserve the privacy of data throughout its processing lifecycle- while it’s being searched or analysed. They allow each operating jurisdiction of the financial institution to retain positive and auditable control of its data assets whilst still enabling it to be effectively used for monetisation, respecting all of the existing privacy and compliance solutions and requirements in those jurisdictions.
Finally, when asked to share their advice on how banks can take the step into monetisation, Cline recommended to: “Know your customer or your consumer and meet them where they are on their privacy journey. They will all be at different levels but put them in the driver’s seat and give them total control in their destiny. That’ll help create those data diamonds.”