“Data is one asset within Fintech that cannot be demonetized, only valued,” Gautam Sinha, CEO, Times Internet (TIL), set the context for the session with insightful humour.

He spoke about the TIL’s flywheel moment – its massive data and ad platform, Columbia, that allows it to do a nimble cross-walk across its 37 digital properties. Result? Lower customer acquisition cost and improved personalized customer experience. And with ET Money and ET Insure, TIL is now on the way to becoming a formidable financial brand with over 350 M+ finance related real-time recommendations made monthly.

Gautam was joined by a panel that included three specific points of view – Investment (Bala Srinivasa, Partner, Kalaari Capital), Data Science (Prithvijit Roy, Co-Founder, BRIDGEi2i Analytics), and Fintech Entrepreneurs (V R Govindarajan, Director, Perfios, Nihit Nirmal, Head of Product, Lendingkart.)

What’s this big noise about big data?

Data is not a stranger for the Financial Services sector. The panel started with a counterpoint on the noise about big and alternate sources of data -just deep mining existing data sources like bank statements is of immense value.

What’s new about data then?

Raw data is a commodity. With increased computing power, there is a need to build domain expertise, analyse insights, and package it in a digestible way. For example: new data sources like satellite images from rainfall can tell us about drivers of repayment for agricultural loans and as more such data gets used, the data signals become better.

Who’s paving the privacy road for a data journey?

Around data privacy concerns, the panel said, respecting and empowering enduser permission, building processes and letting consumers know that they control the data through user-consent based architecture is the way to drive data safety.

The question is no longer whether data is the backbone of Fintech. That’s a given. How data can develop it’s own backbone it’s the key question today.