Google & Mastercard in Credit Card Data Deal

Google & Mastercard in Credit Card Data Deal
Google has reportedly bought Mastercard credit card data in the US to help it track users’ offline spending in stores. The two firms had not made the deal public but it was discovered by Bloomberg.

Mastercard denied suggestions that its data could be used to identify exact purchases.

The Open Rights Group told the BBC the confidential nature of the deal raised privacy issues.

“This raises serious concerns regarding the use of private financial data,” said legal director Myles Jackman. “Will Mastercard be compensating their clients for the data they have given away to Google for their own financial gain?”

Google says all the data is anonymised and that users can opt out of ad tracking by switching off the web and app activity control.

It is testing a service for ad buyers in the US that shows how digital ads influence in-store spending.

On its website, the firm claims that advertisers who qualify to use its “store sales management” service can see whether an ad click or video view results in an in-store purchase within 30 days.

Google said the service was a test product in the US and only available to certain ad buyers. It launched the ad tool in 2017.

“Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information,” the firm said in a statement.

“We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners.

Mastercard told the BBC it offers its own “media measurement services” to retailers, in which the merchant provides advertising campaign details and it supplies spending data for the duration of the campaign.

“We only provide merchants and their designated service providers trends based on aggregated and anonymised data, such as the merchant’s average ticket size and sales volumes,” said a spokesman. “We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers.”

Google Launches Solar Power Service in UK

Google Launches Solar Power Service in UK
Google is offering a new service, which it says could help British homeowners save money by switching to solar power. The tech giant has released an online tool called Project Sunroof, in partnership with energy supplier Eon, that estimates savings using data from Google’s Earth and Maps apps. It first launched in the US in 2015, where reviews suggested it was broadly accurate but gave some odd results.

Google is also working with German software firm Tetraeder on the project.

Project Sunroof uses machine learning to estimate how much solar potential a house has by examining the property’s features, such as its roof area and angle, and weather data, such as sun positioning.

Google claims that its models are detailed enough to assess the impact of a single tree on a home’s solar potential.

It isn’t the first tool of its kind – Ikea offers a similar service in collaboration with Solarcentury, and Tesla launched its own Solar Roof Calculator last summer. But these companies and others require homeowners to submit additional data about the shape of their roofs or their homes before getting a quote on savings.

Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the non-profit organisation Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said that Project Sunroof “lowers the barriers” for homeowners by automatically inspecting roofing data using Google Earth imagery.

“By analysing the roof shape, they will take out one of the steps that you would have to go through to get solar panels installed,” Mr Marshall told the BBC. “The speed of the process means that if you’re half-tempted by the idea, you’re more likely to go ahead with it.”

Project Sunroof first launched in the US in 2015 and then in Germany last year. It is now available in select UK regions, including Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Reading and parts of London.

Nicole Lombardo, head of partnerships at Google, said: “We are excited to help people in the UK make more informed choices about installing solar panels on their rooftops and transition to renewable energy sources.”

The tool is another example of Google’s public commitment to green energy.

It announced in 2017 that its global operations were powered using only renewable energy sources.