Can tracking card payments help businesses plan what to sell? » SMEInsider

Can tracking card payments help businesses plan what to sell?

Billions of card payments are made every day around the world. Now, card companies are starting to use this to analyse trends that can help retailers adapt and change to suit their customers.

Macro-data accumulated through analysing global payment data creates patterns and predictions that “influence every part of our lives”, according to Anne Cairns, Mastercard’s president of International Markets.

Writing in the Guardian, Cairns explains how, by tracking real-time payments made by two billion cardholders in 210 countries, the company is able to compile data on spending patterns and behavioural shifts far faster than government statistics.

One of the fastest growing areas of our business is how we use aggregated data on spending patterns found in the payments we process to help our partners and customers build more relevant and tailored solutions, products and experiences,” she wrote.

For businesses, who excel at capturing and analysing their own customer data, our macro-level data insights applied to their data can illustrate what happens next, outside of their company, across the market.”

Rather than relying on market predictions, the use of big data to respond quickly to customer behaviour means that businesses can work out how to launch promotions and alter their order patterns so that they don’t get caught out. This, suggests Cairns, is good both for retailers and their customers. But, she says, it’s also being used to improve access to finance for SMEs around the world.

Globally, some 80% of SMEs don’t have access to full banking services, even in developed economies,” she explains. “Our simplify commerce platform can help an SME set up from scratch in 15 minutes, enabling them to start selling over the internet and accept card payments. Without big data on the needs of SMEs we may never have identified this opportunity for growth.”

While some critics suggest that mass data harvesting sits uneasily with individual privacy, Cairns believes that the shift is not only inevitable, but could be a powerful force for good.

believe big data has the potential to transform people’s lives for good globally and the capability to drive social change, supporting transformational innovation and growth in developing countries,” she said.

There is a need to drive financial inclusion across the world and data can play a part in making a real difference, the opportunity is there for the taking we just need to embrace the change.