The Argument for ‘Little’ Data in Banking

February 8, 2013

shutterstock_86679832Never mind big data — you can’t go anywhere in the banking world without talk of BIG DATA.

But I argue that bankers should think about “little” data, too.

One of the hottest tech companies right now is Box, similar to Dropbox and Google Drive in that it provides file storage in the cloud, has raised $312 million of venture funds as it guns for a 2014 IPO, ReadWrite reports.

As I read about Box, a marketing email from Simple about its new Attach a Photo feature arrived in my inbox. Here’s what Simple says the feature:

You can also use this handy feature to, for example, attach a PDF of your cable bill to the transaction where you paid it, or the receipt from purchasing your TV to the transaction where you bought it. Attach your boarding pass to your flight purchase for easy access in the security line. One customer even suggested adding photos of odometer readings to gas purchases.

This is what I would call “little” data — the data stuff people have and need to reference. There is an acute need to combine “little” data with banking information, as Simple suggests. If bankers think online banking is sticky, how much more sticky would online banking (and mobile banking, for that matter) be if the online banking platform was the “personal finance” for consumers. Personal financial management is hard enough; any incremental organizational help banks can offer to consumers should pay dividends.

“Little” data is outside a bank’s or social network’s control. It’s on a customer’s hard drive, camera, or scrap of paper. In other words, it’s not aggregate-able. But once customers see the benefits of pulling their own data into their financial lives, perhaps the idea of BIG DATA won’t seem so scary.


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