A partnership between Swiss real-time data company Streamr and mobile telecoms industry body GSMA is to allow mobile network operators (MNOs) to monetise user data by enabling users to sell it themselves.

Initially serving as a 90-day pilot programme, the initiative is designed to introduce privacy-centric technology into the user monetisation space, which has traditionally drawn privacy concerns.

It will give three MNOs permission to use the technology, which allows mobile users to opt into Streamr’s Data Union framework where they can select exactly what data they want to sell.

Potential uses of the data include intelligence on consumer footfall and mobility for commercial landlords, retail operators and brands. It may also prove valuable for events management and city planning applications.

“It’s very exciting to consider the potential for this pilot,” said Henri Pihkala, co-founder of Streamr.

“MNOs are ideally positioned to unlock the rich customer insights that their subscribers create on their devices each day. Privacy-focused data monetisation that works with those users, presents a significant new income stream, as the industry faces multiple pressures on existing revenues”.

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Support to sell mobile user data raises potential for revolution in data monetisation

The pilot is by no means the first time that the idea of giving users the power to sell their own data – be it mobile or otherwise – has been floated, but it is a landmark trial of whether the approach can actually viable.

As a result, not only will it provide insights for the telecoms industry, but will gave a significant research component to explore how users respond to their ability to control and monetise their data.

It comes as the European Union is poised to address the issue in 2021 with the Digital Services Act, which is likely to significantly address data sharing.

“Given regulatory changes, and rapidly changing consumer attitudes to both privacy and the value of their data, the only sustainable way for MNOs to monetise mobile data, is by gaining overt consent from their users,” said Shiv Malik, head of growth at Streamr.

“We also know that the consumer insights industry is desperately underserved when it comes to data from mobiles. We are confident that Streamr’s revolutionary Data Union framework allows them to capture and record this consent, and share that data dynamically and securely.”

Read more: Big tech must be prepared for stricter data privacy regulation: Report