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Westpac bank launches Databank data protection service

Australia's Westpac bank is offering organisations that share customer data a service that it says securely locks down personal information

Australian bank Westpac has gone into the data banking business with a service that aims to securely lock down customer data prior to it being shared by businesses.

Called Databank, the Westpac service is claimed to reduce the risk of identity theft, customer data breaches and the privacy and consent problems that can arise when companies agree to share data to milk intelligence about customer interactions.

The Databank platform will provide secure identity data management through data exchange company Data Republic.

Founded in 2014, Data Republic is based in the Stone & Chalk FinTech hub in Sydney. It offers a marketplace for data exchange between organisations looking to analyse customer behaviour across disparate data sets.

Databank is a governance and audit platform for prospective data explorers, rather than an analysis service. It helps organisations to manage their legal and IT security compliance when sharing data.

Data Republic has attracted investment dollars from three large Australian companies that have an intense interest in customer behaviour and their own masses of customer data.

In May, banks NAB and Westpac along with airline Qantas injected a combined A$10.5m into Data Republic through Qantas Loyalty, the airline’s frequent flyer programme, NAB VC fund NAB Ventures and Westpac VC fund Reinventure Group.

Infrastructure platform

Westpac chief strategy officer Gary Thursby said Databank was a security platform for Data Republic, and not a data analysis engine.

“Databank does not analyse or exchange data,” Thursby said in a statement. “It provides the infrastructure for organisations wishing to adopt best practices and manage identity data risk in one of the safest environments available. These organisations can then assure their customers about the security of their identity data.”

Data Republic CEO and co-founder Paul McCarney said Databank helped anonymise customer data in multi-party information exchange deals by separating, encrypting and storing customer identities away from their attribute-related data sets.

“The launch of Databank represents a world first in the banking of customer information – no one is storing personal information in this way,” he said in a statement. “Together with Data Republic, this best-practice security construct removes data exchange risks to the consumer.”

NAB data-sharing investment

Westpac isn’t the only big Australian bank dipping into data sharing. NAB also has a stake in Data Republic. NAB, Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth are the big four Australian banks.

Back in May when NAB Ventures announced its stake in Data Republic, NAB Ventures managing director Todd Forest said the deal would lead to data-sharing projects at the bank down the line.

“This strategic equity partnership gives us a seat at the table to help develop Data Republic’s capabilities and ultimately improve the experience for NAB customers in the future,” said Forest in a statement.

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Meanwhile, Australia’s Productivity Commission is conducting a review of whether large enterprises and government agencies should be required to do more in opening up their data sets for general use.

Not surprisingly, bank submissions to the review so far argue against any further regulation. The Productivity Commission will deliver a draft report in November.

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