Who Owns Your Financial Data?

That’s the question we should all be asking. Now that Mint has finally launched and joined Wesabe, Geezeo, Buxfer and a few others in the personal financial web service space, it’s time to discuss what it means to take your personal financial data out of the hands of your bank and credit card company (who thinks they own it but do not), and put it on the web.

Wesabe, a Union Square Ventures portfolio company, has a Data Bill Of Rights.

It says:

  • You can export and/or delete your data from Wesabe whenever you want.
  • Your data is your data, not ours. Our job is to help you understand and act on your data.
  • We’ll keep all of your data online and accessible for as long as you have an account. No “archive access” charges.
  • Any data you want us to keep private, we will.
  • If a question comes up not covered by these rights, we will answer it remembering that your data belongs to you.

That’s a good start. But I think its time to discuss this at length. And there’s no better place to do that than in the blogs. Here’s some questions to ponder.

- who owns the metadata you and others create about the transactions that come into the system?
- is it better to let the service do the tagging or is it better to let the community to do the tagging of the transactions?
- should the tags be shared and if so, when and with whom?
- where should your login and passwords be stored?
- can these services be hacked?
- is personal identifiable information (PII) being stored with the data?

I am sure there are more questions. So now that we have a full fledged category here with at least four high quality companies in it, let’s figure out the rules of the road.