Credit card companies may sell consumer purchase and transaction data to marketers for use in delivering more targeted online advertisements, according to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal.
Visa and MasterCard are in the preliminary testing phase of separating customers into groups based on their in-store purchasing history and activities and selling that information to advertisers. However, MasterCard told the Journal that such a process may reveal too much private data to marketers and is instead researching ways to anonymously group purchasing behavior. "Although those plans might have a profoundly positive impact on the advertising industry, it does raise several privacy concerns," explains Don Reisinger for CD Net. "Although companies have long shared customer data with marketing agencies, individual consumers have always been wary of companies peering into where they are, what they're buying and how much they're spending." Of course, the data cannot take into account a full picture of consumers' spending habits, as payment methods - cash, credit, checks, mobile - vary depending on the product or service in question.