Government 'Innovation Lab' encourages businesses to benefit from midata scheme

The government has launched a scheme to allow businesses to access information made available through the midata scheme.

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The government has launched a scheme to allow businesses to benefit from information made available through the midata scheme.

The midata project, launched in 2011, is aimed at giving citizens easy access to purchasing or usage information as companies increasingly look to leverage consumer data, such as through loyalty cards or financial transactions. Google, Visa, Lloyds Banking Group and British Gas are some of the companies that have in the past announced their support for the initiative that aims to release personal data back to consumers as part of the open data agenda.

Now the data collected on 1,000 volunteers through the scheme is being opened up to businesses through the creation of the 'midata Innovation Lab', supported by the Open Data Institute.

The aim is to enable business to leverage the data to provide information back to customers through the development of mobile or tablet apps containing purchasing data.  This might, for example, make it easier to determine which mobile tariff is most suitable, gain a view of how many calories they have been consuming, or enable energy customers to scan a QR code on a bill to get a clear view of usage patterns.

A number of companies have signed up to the initiative including Telefonica, BBC, Moneysupermarket.com, npower, Grapple and Which?.

“Today’s most successful businesses are the ones that are creative about building customer relationships,” said consumer affairs Minister Jo Swinson. “The new ’midata’ Lab is an exciting opportunity to put this to the test and explore how businesses could help customers use the data around their spending habits to make better choices.” 

She continued: “There is a lot to be gained from being open and using the information gathered on customers with their knowledge.”

Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com added: “Midata has the potential to be a consumer blockbuster. Yet the real challenge is to make it work. This is a welcome practical first step to see if that’s possible. 

“Currently when it comes to finding the cheapest mobile deal, energy bill or bank account – many people struggle to know their exact tariff name – let alone a detailed analysis of their usage.”

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