- Mastercard on Thursday laid out six principles to promote data responsibility in response to a company-commissioned survey in which customers say only one-quarter of firms adequately handle personal information.
- The payment giant is looking to recruit companies, educational institutions and agencies to advance a dialogue on data ownership and protection.
- The initiative comes during the same month that Mastercard and fellow payment companies Visa, Stripe and PayPal withdrew from the Libra cryptocurrency project led by Facebook, whose reputation has suffered over data privacy concerns.
Financial institutions are increasingly trumpeting their social stances, whether for public good or optics. Banks representing more than $47 trillion in assets last month signed on to the United Nations' climate-centric Principles for Responsible Banking. Banks such as SunTrust and Barclays have said they'll stop financing operators of private prisons amid the immigrant detention crisis along the U.S.'s southern border. Citigroup, Bank of America and others have set restrictions on their business customers regarding gun sales. And the market for environmentally and socially "responsible" loans has increased 40% in the past year, credit rating provider S&P Global Ratings found.
"Data responsibility is the next step of corporate social responsibility," Mastercard's chief data officer, JoAnn Stonier, told American Banker. "Organizations need to take a step toward that."
Mastercard's survey shows a fundamental disconnect between customers and executives. Although 26% of consumers said companies are doing a good job handling user data, 58% of business leaders said the same.
Stonier said the principles stem from a lack of guidance on how data should be used regarding innovation. Mastercard did not comment on Libra specifically, but said the principles were in development before the company pulled out of the project.
The six pillars of data responsibility the payment network outlined are:
Security and privacy
Transparency and control
Along with that is an acknowledgment that consumers should own, control and benefit from their data, and companies should protect it, according to a Mastercard white paper detailing the survey data.
"We have an opportunity to shape a digital economy that affords individuals transparency and control over their data while also enabling innovation," said Mastercard's chief privacy officer, Caroline Louveaux. "Through responsible data practices that create trust, organizations can achieve both."
At stake is $3 trillion in annual economic value that could be created by 2020 by connecting data across institutional and geographic boundaries, according to the white paper.
The third-party online survey sought perspectives from 2,487 individuals and 830 business leaders in Brazil, Germany, India, Spain and the U.S. this summer, according to a Mastercard press release. Consumers in India and Brazil are far more positive about the handling of personal data, and more than half of consumers say they would be more likely to use a company that's transparent about how it uses data, the survey found.
"In the long run, companies that build trust through principled uses of data — even when there is a short-term cost — will be best suited to thrive in a data-driven economy," said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, one of two partners Mastercard announced in the initiative. The other is New York University.