I was intrigued to see a number of credit card issuers, notably Abbey, Barclaycard, Egg and the Co-op Bank, announce plans to share customer behavioural data with each other.
It's highly debatable whether the card issuers are wholly legal in their plans, as customer privacy issues, not to mention data protection legislation, will almost certainly raise their ugly head.
That having been said, the card companies could amend their terms and conditions to accommodate the data sharing agreement.
According to the card issuers, the idea is that cardholder behavioural data will be shared between themselves, allowing them to work out whether they should increase cardholder credit limits and the like.
I am deeply cynical about such plans. I strongly suspect the card issuers will use the data on customers entice cardholders to use their own card, rather than than one from the competition.
In addition, if a customer looks like they are over-extending themselves - as a lot of people are already doing - then the card companies will almost certainly offer consolidation loans through their personal loan divisions.
Plans call for much of the data to be held on the files of the three main credit reference agencies, Callcredit, Equifax and Experian, which basically means that almost all card issuers will have access to behavioural data over time.
Sharing of financial data sucks big time. I applied for a car loan on a from HSBC earlier this year, only to get the knockback on the bank's 5.9 per cent deal.
In the end I went with Egg whose 6.4 per cent deal was actually cheaper in terms of monthly payments.
I was then amazed to get calls from companies such as HFC Bank and Able2Buy in the following days who were (a) aware clearly of HSBC's knockback and (b) offering to loan me the dosh at rates of 8.9 and
12.9 per cent respectively.
Data Protection Act? S'cuse me while I laugh my cobblers off...