Tsunami founder and CEO Stuart Lacey
Tsunami founder and CEO Stuart Lacey

Trunomi looks to bring data ownership back to the people

Most people do not understand how complex data is, Stuart Lacey believes.

Mr. Lacey is the founder and CEO of Trunomi, a company whose consent management data-sharing platform connects financial institutions with customers. They give individuals control and transparency over the use of their personal data while providing financial institutions with compliant and secure messaging and document sharing.

“It was a fallacy that the customer owns their data,” Mr. Lacey said when discussing traditional approaches to data stewardship.

You generate a host of data when you register for online banking, for example. Your bank has your name, address, employment records, mortgage information and spending patterns, all valuable information for Corporate America.

“(Technology) has given rise to a new asset class – your data,” Mr. Lacey said.

Your data leaves a vapor trail, Mr. Lacey explained, meaning it continues to exist and have influence long after you initially generate it. The problem is there has been no mechanism to properly steward that.

Tsunami founder and CEO Stuart Lacey
Tsunami founder and CEO Stuart Lacey

The ideal is you have total control over who gets to use your data and for what reasons. Trunomi provides that ideal, Mr. Lacey said.

“Rather than have multiple copies all over we go to one master copy which the customer owns to avoid errors. They can share what they want with whom they want for an exact period.

“It has changed engagement, it’s transparent, open and secure.”

Once you choose what data you are willing to share and the entities you are willing to share it with your bank can determine the value it has and you can be compensated for sharing it, Mr. Lacey added.

“The business model is clear. Uber, Airbnb, so much of the world runs on personal data and they need the insights.”

Another benefit of having control over your own data is you can correct errors which can hurt you for years if gone undetected. All it takes is a bad scan or typing error to change your income, job status or debt load and you are spending months proving you actually are who you say you are.

Many jurisdictions have failed when enacting data-protection laws, Mr. Lacey added. With machine learning and smart data, companies are trying to predict when consumers will experience a major life event such as a baby or home purchase without being told. That leads to consumers being bombarded with ads for all kinds of things an algorithm determined they might want. I was in Las Vegas for a business trip three weeks ago and still get Nevada attack ads on my laptop every day.

trunomiBut if you are going to Vegas, having a baby or buying a house, why not choose which industries reach you and get rewarded for doing it?

There are two kinds of people, those who know they’ve been hacked and those who don’t, Mr. Lacey said. He advises to make yourself less interesting and more difficult to compromise online. Don’t centralize your data. Avoid the cloud.

Trunomi uses four million one-tone encrypted pipes, so in order to access and use your data a hacker would have to break into the actual pipe and the exact instant the data flows through and then replicate it.

We are in a transitional period where millennials have different expectations of privacy. They know their movements are being watched online and expect them to be. That’s not to say that they don’t make mistakes online but for the most part they know what they are getting into.

Banks are also adjusting to data-sharing and new technologies, though not as quickly as the millennials. That provides opportunity, Mr. Lacey explained.

“Early adopters can build the future bank, which will look more like a technology company than a bank.”

There are  common risks with data management, Mr. Lacey explained. One is in the transfer, which we rely on when accessing sites from our phones and laptops. For the most part encryption is great in the transfer and at the endpoint, Mr. Lacey said.

“The big exposure is when data is at rest. That’s the bullseye target.”