May 9, 2013

Good at driving? Prove it. Benefit!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by xrematon @ 9:04 pm


This title refers to the fact that you can now let insurance companies install a simple device in your car which collects information about your driving and beams it back to HQ. If you really do drive as well as you think (apparently most of us think we do) – you don’t cut corners too fast, you don’t slam too much on the brakes etc – then you could be up for cheaper premiums.

This is one of the many ways in which people can be complicit in personal data collection. Companies collect the data about their customers who are then able to directly benefit. As this happens more and more, the question is how far would you go in baring all?

It appears that sharing information about what goes on in your social network is one big opportunity area. Kreditech, a Hamburg-based start-up that makes small online loans in Germany, Poland and Spain uses Facebook data to inform lending decisions. Applicants are asked to provide access for a limited time to their account on Facebook or another social network. As written up in a recent Economist article

 “Much is revealed by your friends”, says Alexander Graubner-Müller, one of the firm’s founders. “An applicant whose friends appear to have well-paid jobs and live in nice neighbourhoods is more likely to secure a loan. An applicant with a friend who has defaulted on a Kreditech loan is more likely to be  rejected.”

But we shouldn’t become complacent. The online world is a messy sprawling place teeming with information, and it’s not in our control. This includes the stuff that’s out there about us which isn’t quite so desirable, whether it’s photos in which we’ve been tagged or mix-ups.

It’s spawning another new business: one devoted to helping us protect our reputation online. For example, for $99 a year or more, you get a basic “reputation starter” package from Reputation.com, which monitors when you are mentioned online and alerts you if anything sensitive comes up, such as “your real age, name, address, mugshots, legal disputes or marital problems”. For $5,000 a year, the firm will “combat misleading or inaccurate links from your top search results” (most people do not look at results much below the top page or two).

What’s it worth?

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