This post originally appeared on Medium and was co-authored by Shane and Julian Ranger (@rangerj)
With today’s announcement of the merger of digi.me and Personal, the personal data ecosystem takes a giant leap forward. (You can read the press release here.)
Personal and digi.me have each helped to define this sector — one that emphasizes individual control over the growing amount of data and analytics about people that fuels the digital world. We have done so by introducing revolutionary tools and rules for giving people control over their own social, personal, financial, health and other data while enhancing privacy, and by attracting world-class investors and some of the brightest minds in the space.
Since 2009, digi.me in Europe and Personal in North America have shared a common mission — to put people, rather than companies and governments, in greater control of their own data.
We have each made great strides, but we still have a long way to go. This merger will get us there faster and with greater force.
The timing could not be better — or the opportunity bigger. A perfect storm is brewing among rising consumer awareness, new regulations and increasingly grave threats to personal privacy and autonomy.
Consumers are increasingly aware of the value that holding their own data brings and rebelling against others taking it from them without consent. For example, the Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s 2017 Global Consumer Trust study shows that when sharing data, 31% of consumers value personal data privacy-protection and access to it above financial rewards (29%) or discounts (22%).
Meanwhile, new legislation such as the European GDPR will deliver new consumer rights over ownership and use starting in May 2018.
And any citizen living in Europe or the United States knows that they are susceptible to various forms of government or corporate surveillance and data mining every day of the week. The vast quantity of data being collected and the deeply private insights from big data analytics and machine learning is accelerating geometrically, with users purposefully left out of the equation.
This collision of factors highlights the need for solutions like ours, but looking past the storm reveals a truly brilliant horizon. Indeed, the possibilities of what individuals and consumers can do when they control their own data are endless and powerful.
Users, businesses and governments all benefit when private sharing and consent access to personal data occurs.
With digi.me, users in Iceland, for example, can access their electronic health records and share relevant data with any medical professional who needs it through the Living Lab project — an example we intend to spread to other countries.
In finance, digi.me will be able to help consumers share their personal financial data with privacy and control with a banking or insurance company to help them get the best policy offer and reward their loyalty, but not by taking their data without permission and benefit for the consumer.
In education, Personal created a download app with the U.S. Department of Education to help make more than 100 fields of student financial aid data portable and reusable.
And a myriad of personal digital assistants and wearables will be able to arm consumers with the power of their own data just as they do for publicly searchable information like directions or comparison shopping for shoes or travel. Just imagine: You choose to integrate your personal data store with Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, say “Hey, Siri”, and all of a sudden you can access an image of your passport or get your bank account or health information served up to you instantly and ready to share.
There is a tailwind behind what both digi.me and Personal have been working on since 2009, and it gets stronger every day. The merger will allow us to expand quickly to meet this growing demand.
Personal has brought to market the world’s best product for individuals and small teams to create and collaborate on data needed for thousands of information-related tasks. It will be fully integrated into the digi.me app later this year. (Personal’s enterprise version of TeamData is being spun off as an information security and productivity company for businesses.) Personal’s development team is first class, and both digi.me and Personal have been pioneers in designing privacy and cybersecurity in their respective platforms every step of the way.
Our combined teams will hit the ground running. We are investing in expanding digi.me’s U.S. operation, which will now be led by Shane, and we are already beginning to work with major U.S. brands to partner with our apps and services.
On the development side, our teams in London, Sarajevo and the United States will work to expand the ecosystem of personal data API connectors to new third-party apps and services and will integrate with major brand partners in multiple countries around the world.
Welcome to the new digi.me — a powerhouse that will help consumers connect their data with companies and their governments to help them make better decisions and improve their lives!
Julian is the founder and chairman of digi.me. Shane, co-founder and CEO of Personal, is now CEO of digi.me’s U.S. business.