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MasterCard’s Vision of Big Business: Selling Customer Data

MasterCard envisions a future where selling customer data to retailers, banks, and governments becomes a significant source of revenue for the company. MasterCard, processing over 2 billion customer payments, possesses real-time data that maps consumer behavior. This data can be made available to retailers and other entities to forecast and predict consumer spending habits.

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets at MasterCard, emphasized the potential of this data, stating, “Retailers are excellent at using the data they have about how people shop in their stores and manage inventory turnover, but they lack insight into what happens outside their stores. The data we possess is pervasive across the entire market. We can assist retailers in identifying strategies to capture more sales.”

While not traditionally a primary source of income for MasterCard, revenue from “other sources,” including data sales, experienced a 22 percent growth in the first quarter of the year, reaching $341 million. This figure outpaced the growth of total revenue, primarily driven by payment processing, which increased by 14 percent to $2.177 billion.

MasterCard’s data reveals intriguing patterns, such as increased spending on groceries in Brazil ahead of the World Cup and decreased spending on luxury goods, attributed to rising food prices. Cairns pointed out that such data could be highly valuable to companies like Nike and Adidas, aiming to sell $300 soccer boots during the competition. As the world’s second-largest debit and credit card company with a wealth of data, MasterCard’s insights could have significant implications for the future of business operations.

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