Start-ups that Need to Overcome Privacy Challenges (and they will)


One thing I love doing is looking at new technology and spotting privacy issues (both challenges and opportunities). Business Insider has put together a list of twenty start-ups to keep an eye on. Needless to say, a breach for a start-up that lives and breathes data could be a killer.

Here are a few that will need to meet those privacy challenges and find the privacy opportunities:

  1. DwollaDescription: “PayPal and Square both use credit cards for transactions. Dwolla is side-stepping credit cards altogether. It links directly to bank accounts (which is good because users can never spend more money than they have) and moves money to whoever you want, even Facebook friends who don’t have Dwolla accounts.” Issue: Three letters: KYC. Dwolla will come under the jurisdiction of financial regulators. Those payments will need to be monitored for payments to individuals and entities on the sanctions lists. Governments can’t let a loophole like this develop. Standard financial customer data issues. The large overhead could be a real burden. If you can keep it cheap, there is real opportunity here. Great opportunity to leverage cost saving transaction monitoring technology.
  2. ZocDocDescription: “ZocDoc is an easy way to book doctor appointments, even last-minute ones, online. The founders say most people under 25 in New York use its service. It’s in eleven cities and is expanding quickly with 5.3 million available appointments online and 700,000+ users. The service is free for users and costs every practice $250 per month to be listed.” Issue: HIPAA and “sensitive data” compliance issues abound. Compliance isn’t cheap for start-ups. Again, leveraging technology and keeping data gathering low should keep costs low as well. Anything that brings down the cost of health care and makes health care easier is going to be a hit. An aging population brings a lot of opportunity here.
  3. BankSimpleDescription: People keep their money in more than one place and they get charged a lot of money by every bank. BankSimple wants to merge all accounts into one and do away with fees by splitting the net interest between all of the banks involved. It’s an amazing mobile banking solution with heaps of potential. Issue: Financial data privacy and security requirements abound. It will also make a nice target for law enforcement seeking information about a customer. Why issue 10 subpoenas when you can issue just one to BankSimple. People are unhappy with banks. I am on the verge of switching from my bank. It’s got legs.
  4. SinglyDescription: “Singly is an open source data locker. It ‘aggregates and stores your personal data from around the web and ensures that it’s always available to you.'” Issue: Aggregating data- need I say more? I see everyone subscribing to a service like this someday. How else will you be able to keep track of everything out there about you.
  5. DropboxDescription: “It created a way to easily share and store files all over the web.” You’d have to live under a rock to not hear about this one. Issue: Give us all your data . . . trust us. If they are serious about competing in the commercial space, they will need to build a rigorous privacy and security platform. Opportunities to monetize similar to Gmail. There are a lot of competitors, but not being tied down to a platform is an advantage.

2 thoughts on “Start-ups that Need to Overcome Privacy Challenges (and they will)

  1. Interesting list. About Dwolla. While I’m not sure about this particular company but lots of alternative payment systems have faltered, see http://blog.e-gold.com/, because of know your customer and other onerous banking regulations. I think it’s unfortunate that some potentially innovative and highly economically efficient ideas are stifled by money laundering laws.

    On another note, a friend sent me a link to a startup called Euclid. While I won’t go so far as to say they are doing privacy right, they are definitely on the right track. See my recent blog post reviewing their privacy statement. http://blog.privacymaverick.com/2011/11/euclid-online-analytics-for-offline.html

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