The launch today of Mint Data may well become viewed as a Rubicon moment for the trend towards open data.
It could take the notion that making personal information, content, data and stuff you would probably not want to share with even your closest friends, (especially your closest friends!), is OK – as long as the information is (a) anonymised, (b) safe, (c) gives you some value and/or entertainment.
At first glance it does.
Mint does something quite fun with the information that it aggregates and anonymises about the spending habits of its 1,000,000+ users and, (Mint’s words):
“Over 1 million people already use our online money management and budgeting software today, and weâ€™re adding over 3,000 users every day.Â Mint.com is tracking $175 billion in transactions, $47 billion in assets and has identified more than $300 million in potential savings for its users.” Mint website.
Marketing non-sequiturs, BS and hyperbole aside, Mint Data is a Beta product that enables people to look at over 300 cities in the US, (it only switches a city on when it has enough users to ensure that anonymised data is available), and see how much people are paying for stuff.
The Mint data home page show some interesting stuff that just begs you to click.
In my case, I wanted to know how a shop can possibly sustain an average spend of $719.16. Turns out is sells fancy watches.
All very interesting. Mint is just for rich people, right?
Second most popular restaurant in San Francisco – San Francisco Soup. Average spend – $7.88.
What Mint is doing is trying to make the value of sharing information about what you have spent, with others, to be a good and fun thing. One benefit cited is that a consumer can see whether they are paying too much for something – gym membership, a meal, a bottle of wine, anything. Whether this is actually a sane thing to do for some things – I can’t imagine anyone coming back from a first date to announce that they paid less than the average for the venue chosen (actually I think I can) – there is probably one massively important outcome.
- It is probably going to popularise the notion of allowing your information to be shared in this way.
It is not clear whether there will be a backlash, but for the moment, I thinks Mint may just have changed the way the world works.