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Financial Surveillance? PayPal Plots Ad Network Built off Your Purchase History and Shopping Habits

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PayPal has announced that it is creating an ad platform “powered” by the data the payment service giant has from millions of both customers and merchants – specifically, from their transaction information.

The data harvesting here will be on by default, but PayPal users (Venmo is included in the scheme) will be able to opt out of what some critics refer to as yet another example of “financial surveillance.” The company’s massive business in the first quarter of this year alone amounted to 6.5 transactions processed for 427 million customers.

Sellers are promised that they will, thanks to the new platform, achieve better sales of products and services, while customers are told to expect the ads targeting them to show more “relevant” products.

A press release revealed that to bolster this side of its business, PayPal has appointed two executives – Mark Grether, formerly Uber Advertising VP and general manager, and John Anderson, who was previously head of product and payments at the fintech firm Plaid.

In this way, PayPal is joining others who are turning to using customer data to monetize targeted advertising. In the company’s industry, Visa and JPMorgan Chase have been making similar moves, while big retailers “share” this type of data with Big Tech.

The PayPal scheme is based on shopping habits and purchase information that allows advertisers to pinpoint their campaigns, and Grether explained that the company “knows” who is making purchases on the internet and where and that this data can be “leveraged.”

He also told the Wall Street Journal that customers who use PayPal cards in physical stores will become sources of the same type of data.

Other than this, however, not many other details are known at this time as to the exact type of data that will be “fed” into the new ad platform.

A spokesperson has offered vague responses to this query, stating that there are no “definitive answers” to that at this “early stage” of the platform’s creation.

But, Taylor Watson was sure to offer boilerplate assurances of transparency and privacy protections:

“Alongside the advertising business, PayPal will build transparent, easy-to-use privacy controls,” said this spokesperson.

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