Thank you for the great feedback and questions on the Digital Shoebox idea. The questions bundled into categories – so here are the five most common themes.
First the assertion – “what you’ve done is far more important than what you do in value stream creation”. The idea of the prior post is that consumers should start to aggregate the receipt data stream, supported by the right player(s) for the benefit of all. Digital wallets – no, paper receipts – valueless – aggregating the personal transaction data stream – value creating!
Q1: I’m not sure I get it (Part 1) and what does this have to do with impact investing (Part 2)?
Part 1 – try this experiment – for a day or two, collect all the “paper” receipts you get for purchases made. This would include email confirmations from web purchases. When you examine the collective data at the end of the collection period – what do you have? Nothing of real value or usability from an information perspective. What do the merchants have – your transaction with them and maybe some history (if your smart like Uber) but only that thin slice.
But if these transactions all flowed into the “Digital Shoebox”, along with other digital life transactions – and an intelligent aggregator sorted out the information – overtime, your personal data warehouse grows and becomes very valuable – to you and to those interested in you. And, best of all you control it and can monetize it.
Part 2 – While not directly applicable to impact investing – it will have future impact on the 1-2B consumers rising up in emerging markets. Think about building this repository for BOP activities. Most transactions performed in those markets will either be local currency (not traceable) or more likely and increasingly mobile based and therefore already digital. It’s not a great leap to realize how valuable that stream will be.
Q2: Why bash digital wallets and what about Bitcoin?
Digital wallets don’t create value or allow the user to really control anything. They make no more sense than MasterCard caring about the brand of the physical wallet container for their card today. All preach universal and shared access – with some top level aggregator (the wallet provider) potentially benefiting and taking control of your information – but that does nothing for the user but create more complexity, lost time at point of sale and no control. That doesn’t really make any sense or create any value. What digital wallet are you using? I thought so.
Bitcoin is nothing more than another transactional currency and method. Add it to your transaction profile, or don’t – but its just another payment form.
Q3: What about privacy?
You don’t have privacy today, because you largely don’t control, collect or manage this information today, nor are you able to create anything of value from all those paper scraps and transaction data. Big data warehouses collect much of this information, under their control – and share that data (for profit) to guide traffic or insight to you. Better to take control, manage it and share it with companies and merchants you care about.
Q4: Who is trustworthy enough to be the “shoebox” provider?
There are a number of companies mentioned in the prior post that could do this. The one who gets it right – making it friction free, highly secure and intelligently productized – will be able to create the standard, grow the user base and create a $1B product offering over time. Think Facebook – 1B people share their most intimate life details, pictures, and friends. What if Facebook helped you create something of real value. If you have a Paypal account – log in and look at your transaction data history. They get it. What if they had a broader view of your transaction details and history. That starts to get at the idea. The names that could do this, do a part today – MasterCard/Visa (transaction processing), Paypal/Google/Facebook (personal data aggregation), Dropbox/Box (virtual mass storage). The best single solution would likely come from some partnership of these companies or a new entity that makes the sum greater than the parts.
Q5: If this is such a great idea, why isn’t someone doing it now?
Beats me. If you like the idea – run with it or get back in touch, we can explore it together. Thanks again for the feedback and questions.