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Mastercard Explores Facilitating the Personal Data Economy 

Interview. Today, consumers don’t get a fair share of the value from their data. Data silos restrict the accessibility of data for consumers and other business and therefore restrict the potential to drive innovation and new services and experiences for consumers. Lack of control hinders consumers to share their data transparently and with consent with service providers they trust. The answer is putting consumers in control of their data. A number of startups are trying to get the personal data economy up and running, but so far they struggle to get the required scale, says Florian Werner from Mastercard’s Data & Services in this interview. 


Why is Mastercard interested in the personal data economy? 

Innovation is critical to business success and a core driver of innovation today is data. Data is crucial to constantly improve services, but there is a growing consumer sentiment against the sharing of personal data, and regulators globally are enforcing this trend with tighter data privacy regulations 

We believe the way out of this is a people-centric data ecosystem. The individual is the richest source of personal data, and often the most accurate. If we empower the individuals to take control of their data, make it accessible by sharing it with explicit consent, we will create an ecosystem that allows for more and better data, and therefore create more and better value 

At Mastercard we explore the opportunity to help facilitating such an ecosystem as it is the natural extension of data ecosystems such as Open Banking. Regulation across the globe is also going in this direction.   


Why could Mastercard be a helper in this scaling? 

Mastercard is far more than a credit card company. We are focusing on multi-rail offerings, enabling Open Banking ecosystems is a priority for us. Mastercard has significant experience in in running secure, global, interoperable networks, at scale. With our partners across financial institutions and merchants and their customers we are able to connect the majority of individuals on this planet.  

We strongly believe in putting control back in the hands of individuals and that a people-centric personal data ecosystem would benefit all stakeholders 

Florian Werner at MyData 2020 explaining Mastercard’s visions on how banks could help facilitate the personal data economy

At Mydata2020 you spoke about Zero-Party Data, what do you mean by this? 

“Zero-Party-Data means the data remains with the individuals, who give others consent to access their data when needed. This way the individual knows at all times when and for what purpose the personal information is used. It allows companies to limit their exposure to PII (Personal Identifiable Information) and therefore reduce the risk in case of a data breach. In addition, the data is often more accurate as it comes directly from the individual and not through a third party.

Let me give you a simple example: Today, various companies store your address. If you move to a different address, you need to inform all those companies about your new address, which is not only an incredible hassle, but you might also forget some companies who then won’t be able to reach you. If you had your address in your stored ‘Personal Data Account’ and the ability to sync the address by providing consent to companies to access the information when required, all it would need is a single swipe to confirm your consent. The companies get accurate information without the risk of storing any PII

This concept can apply to various personal information, including your preferences, which can be highly relevant for many merchants


Does Mastercard give users control over data? 

Mastercard has always been committed to privacy and the protection of personal data. For the core of its business Mastercard is not storing any PII of card holders. There are exceptions like Mastercard’s Priceless program.

To be fully transparent about the personal data we hold, Mastercard created the My Data portal. It allows individuals to understand and manage the personal information we hold about them.

How can we scale the personal data economy? 

Scale in the personal ecosystem requires three things: access to consumers, trust, and services that are attractive to consumers and/or solve an existing pain point.

Over the last few years we have seen a number of great companies that developed solutions to ensure the private and secure exchange of personal data, such as Meeco,, BitsaboutMe, or the initiatives that started in universities such as HAT/Dataswift in the UK, or Solid/Inrupt from the MIT in the US.

What they all struggle with is scale. It takes time to develop an ecosystem, and it needs a partner who is trusted by a large enough consumer base. I believe financial institutions are best positioned to become such trusted entity that will provide access to the personal data economy to its customers

Today banks look after your money, keep it safe, and help you make the most out of it. Why shouldn’t they do the same for your data. Research shows that financial institutions are trusted most when it comes to keeping personal data safe. There is real potential for financial institutions to issue Personal Data Accounts in the future the way they issue checking accounts or payment cards today


What do you mean with data control? Is it full control or getting a copy of your data? 

Every individual should be in control of their own data, and how the data is used should be transparent. Providing personal information to a third party is legitimate if I receive a service (value) in return. The question is, is that service a fair share of the value or can my data do more for me.

Therefore, we believe data should be portable, interoperable. If we can facilitate the exchange of personal information across sectors (e.g. banking, retail, entertainment, social media) we are able to foster new services and innovation. Everyone will benefit

In the end it doesn’t matter if the data remains at source or if you enable a copy of the data to be stored with the individual, e.g. in a personal data store in the cloud. What is important is that the data can be connected and analyzed or shared to enable the desired services


How will it be of benefit to me to be in control of my data other than data protection? 

A lot of data we produce everyday is sitting in silos. Being in control means being able to access the data and share it with full transparency and consent with third parties. In return the individual could benefit in form of (1) insights, just think of financial management or health and fitness advice, (2) convenience, such as the address synchronization I mentioned earlier and last but not least financial value for example through more relevant personal offers from merchants or automated recommendations to switch your utility provider, all based on personal information your consciously share. Personal data has incredible value and making it accessible for individuals allows them to participate