Posted by MeridianLink | April 21, 2022

Partner Post: Place Consumers at the Heart of the Data Sharing Experience to Unlock Opportunity

The following post is part of a series of blogs written by MeridianLink Partners who will be attending the MeridianLink LIVE! User Forum in May 2022. To learn more about the event, click here.

Consumer data is big business. Consumer data is available online and collecting and sharing personal data continues to be the widely accepted norm of doing business. Today, this data sharing relies primarily on data aggregators that collect, organize, and store large amounts of consumer data, and sell that data to businesses. There are many problems with this data sharing model (Facebook and Cambridge Analytica come to mind), however, a few stand out as particularly egregious: the data is expensive, it’s of poor quality, and perhaps most importantly, its collection and use violates consumer trust. 

Is there a better way? Customer experiences have been almost exclusively limited to product development and marketing. As a result, data sharing has not been considered a customer-facing function. Instead, it has largely been treated as a technology function, for which aggregation is acceptable. A customer-centric approach to data places the consumer at the heart of the sharing experience, treating data collection and sharing as an integral part of product development. This, in turn, elevates the entire domain of consumer data collection and sharing to the level of a company’s core products and services.  

The Consumer Perspective 

In 2021 alone, there were an estimated 5,250 confirmed data breaches. Following this, two seemingly contradictory consumer behaviors have revealed themselves. The first: consumers are becoming increasingly savvy in their understanding of data privacy. They expect greater control and transparency over their personal information. From government regulatory bodies to consumer advocacy groups and individual consumers, there has never been greater emphasis on ensuring consumer data privacy rights are maintained and enforced. The second: consumers are increasingly willing to share their personal data to unlock innovative and convenient services. In fact, consumers readily share a wide range of personal data including financial, educational, income, and more, in exchange for services like loans, employment offers, and rental agreements. 

Ask for Permission, Not Forgiveness 

Businesses must find ways to obtain the data they want without betraying consumer trust. Historically, businesses collected personal data in anticipation of it being valuable one day, even if they had no immediate need for the data. Taking consumer data without permission, and only asking for forgiveness if consumers found out, may have worked for a time. That method has no place in a world where consumers demand and deserve trust, transparency, and respect for their data. 

Instead, businesses must put the consumer at the center of each and every data transaction. They must incentivize the consumer to share their data in exchange for valuable products and services. At the core of this transaction is the explicit permission from the consumer to access and use their personal data directly from their primary data source, typically their online account.    

Consumer-Permissioned Data (CPD) Puts the Consumer in Control 

This model of consumer data sharing with direct access to personal data from the consumer is called consumer-permissioned data (CPD). It is an essential component of customer-centric data sharing. Consumer-permissioned data unlocks data that lives within a consumer’s online credentialed account with the direct permission of the consumer. In a CPD transaction, a consumer elects to provide access to their personal account for the purpose of sharing data with a requesting business for a valuable exchange. One of the earliest and most widely adopted examples of CPD is access to bank account information within payment applications such as Venmo and Paypal. Further examples include the sharing of income data or employment data to secure a mortgage loan.  

CPD offers many benefits. First, it is inherently customer-centric. The customer experience is an integral part of the transaction. The consumer’s permission defines the access and use of the shared data, creating the foundation for a trusting and transparent customer relationship. Next, CPD is vastly superior to other methods of data acquisition – it is real-time, up to date, and direct from the primary data source. This means better, broader data that leads to better business decisions and consumer outcomes. Finally, consumers engaged in CPD transactions are often willing to grant access to new, untapped realms of their personal data, creating a virtuous cycle of business innovation and consumer benefits. 

Building a Better Future, Together 

We have only just begun to leverage the power of a consumer’s data to deliver personalized benefits and expand opportunities. Consumers are willing to share when they receive value in return. Access to consumer data is a great responsibility for businesses and requires moving past the old ways to a customer-centric approach. Consumer-permissioned data brings together the interests of businesses and consumers alike, laying the groundwork for a healthier, richer, and more robust data sharing future. 

For more information about CPD, visit

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