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Vodafone: Personal data might become new currency by 2030

Businesses will be forced to provide customers with a better experience in exchange for personal data in order to retain them

Personal data has the potential to become a new form of currency by 2030, as privacy and personal data are set to define the next decade of connectivity.

That's according to a new report from Vodafone, which used the example of blockchain-based data marketplace CoverUS to illustrate how companies can collect consumer data using a fixed-price cryptocurrency and allow users to spend it on services such as a gym membership.

However, as consumers give away more personal data, they will tend to prefer businesses with more ethical data practices. Vodafone cites research from The Conference Board which found that 19% of consumers have switched to a competitor that adheres to – what they perceive to be, at least – better data policies.

Speaking at the report’s launch event, Future Laboratory co-founder Chris Sanderson told attendees that “the next decade is going to see the rise of an increasingly data-savvy consumer”.

This consumer will strive to “regain control over their lives” and have more power in decision-making. This is in contrast to “the early stages” of internet connectivity, which Sanderson described as “brand-first and consumer-second”.

Vodafone’s report found that consumers currently feel “short-changed” by companies that ask for their data, pointing to research which found that 44% of people globally would rather “forego personalised content, including brand messages, offers and experiences, if it meant not having to share their personal information”.

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Hence, it is up to businesses to provide customers with a better experience in exchange for personal data.

Speaking at the event, Vodafone Smart Tech managing director Lutfu Kitapci said that tech companies need to be thoughtful in informing consumers about the use of their data:

“How are we going to use it? What are we going to use it for and how are we going to protect it? I think that becomes really critical,” he told attendees.

However, this isn’t the only area for adjustment for businesses. Tobi Ajala, founder of digital agency TECHTEE, said that tech companies will have to assume more responsibility for their products.

“We conduct a lot of UX research and interviews for brands to be able to build digital products, and in that we see that, as consumers, we naturally purchase things, interact with things and services without thinking that something sinister (...) is happening,” she told attendees of the event. 

According to Ajala, consumers will expect good intent from companies, that is why it’s “unfair” that the responsibility for their safety is “in the hands of the consumer”.

This comes hours after a new report recommended that drivers of automated cars should be redefined as a "user-in-charge". If implemented, the change could shift the legal responsibility for the car’s driving from the consumer to the manufacturer.

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