Last month I bought an item from Stella McCartney website, some books from a bookshop in town; I bought a souvenir from The British Museum, shopped at Waitrose four times; went to eat at The Ivy, went to The Royal Court Theatre and Royal Festival Hall for a concert, etc. (Ok, so I can dream can’t I?) Any activity that involves me spending money shows up on my bank statement since I increasingly shop online or use my debit card to make payments. I can’t remember the last time I paid for anything with cash; I even use my debit card to pay for parking!!
Hm, dare I ask, what does this small sample of transactions on my bank statement tell you about me?
Do you think a behaviour specialist could describe my character, or could you?
Have you ever thought about what your bank statement reveals about you? Can a bank statement describe your character to a potential employer, a future beau or belle? Would your friends be able to pick your bank statement out of a handful of bank statements?
Imagine a search engine that trudges through all the millions of bank statements on the database of Barclays Bank customers in London searching for any transaction that has the word Stella McCartney in it and then searches through those results for any transactions that have Waitrose listed in them, and further searches those results for payments made for parking; would there be a trend? Is there a particular breed of person that shops at Stella McCartney?
What if there was a search engine that could absorb all the databases of all bank (and building society) customers in a particular area. So for example, Southwark a borough in South London that has a diverse population and what some may call a widening gap between the affluent and the perhaps not so affluent. It also has one of the highest rates for car insurance; this could be an indication of crime rates. What would a gigantic information yielding search engine unveil about the residents in Southwark?
Could this happen? Consider this, millions of people think nothing of posting personal information on Facebook or Google+ knowing that they make millions of pounds selling on data to advertising agencies, etc. Do you know the privacy policies of companies that handle the way you pay for things? Your Bank, Building Society, Credit Card, PayPal…