If you hold a credit card or debit card, your transaction history is the equivalent of a detailed set of digital footprints. Your transaction record includes where you were, what you bought, and when you bought it, and potentially much more such as what you read, what you watch, whether you’ve gained weight, and on and on. All of which sounds scary, were it not for the trusted relationship between you and your card provider and the many incentives in place anchoring that trust.
Most transaction data emerges from our trusted relationships with banks and financial institutions, both of whom have strong competitive and regulatory incentives to hold this data closely. On the other end of these exchanges are the many merchants and partners with whom we do business. Few of these have a holistic view beyond their own connection to us unless they are part of a larger marketplace (in which case data might be shared with the marketplace provider).
In the bricks and mortar world, reward cards, coupons, loyalty programs and discount codes can be used to link otherwise isolated transactions into a larger composite. The discounts they offer are an incentive to acquire your data for future use.