Startup cool: Crowdsourcing real-time financial data with mobile

Standard Chartered bank partnered with startup, Premise Data, to improve financial indices. It's totally modern enterprise story.

During a recent episode of CXO-Talk on the topic of corporate innovation, Todd Schofield of Standard Chartered Bank described a unique partnership with Premise Data Corp., a startup that provides crowdsourced data collection for analytics applications.

Standard Chartered is a London-based company that employs about 87,000 people. An international organization, approximately 90 percent of its revenues come from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The partnership with Premise enables the bank to track real-time prices, at local markets in Nigeria. Because financial indices and tracking are an important part of Standard Charter's business, the ability to improve data collection is a big win:

The volume of economic data available in Sub-Saharan African economies remains low in comparison to international markets, with official statistics often being out of date. This creates a challenge for decision-makers in both the private sector and governments. A lack of reliable market statistics leads to uncertainty; adds to the cost of doing business and can impact the formulation of policies, business investment and expansion strategies.

Crowdsourcing data collection using mobile devices is an interesting business case for a traditional bank:

hundreds of people in key Nigerian cities are engaged in capturing price information on their smartphones, with participants paid through top-up mobile phone credits. Photographs of food staples and their price tags are uploaded to a central database and where price tags are not on display, information on prices are entered manually. Each week, price information on approximately 21,000 food and beverage products, such as vegetables and cereals, is captured, aggregated, and then analysed and structured into real-time consumer price inflation data.

This video describes the price tracking system:

During the CXO-Talk show, Schofield explained the program in more depth:

Nigerian's walking through markets will be able to use their phone and be able to take a photo of a price tag of rice or bananas, or onions or something along these lines. And then be able to actually go and when they take the photo it gets geo-tagged so they know what market it's in, they categorize it, and it gets uploaded, and in real time it gets processed. And, through machine learning, we now have economic data and [based on] hundreds and thousands of these photos, we have created an entirely new economic index of data that was previously unavailable.

Now Standard Chartered can make investment decisions; our clients can make investment decisions around how these indexes are comparing to other indexes of things such as inflation.

You can also read technical details about Premise's price index methodology and here is an example price data chart [PDF]:

Standard Chartered Bank: Nigeria price tracker

Standard Charter's relationship with Premise is unique for several reasons:

  • The business process being automated is fascinating and unusual
  • Standard Chartered Bank attributes genuine, lasting business results directly to the partnership
  • The partnership represents a successful collaboration between a large organization and a startup

On February 19, I will present on the topic of corporate innovation and startups at the Cintrifuse innovation network in Cincinnati.

You can watch the entire CXO-Talk discussion on corporate innovation in the embedded video below. The conversation offers an in-depth look at issues around large organizations and startups working together. In addition to Todd Schofield, the show includes venture capital investor, Evangelos Simoudis, and McKinsey partner, Philippe Mauchard:

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CXO-Talk brings together prominent executives, authors, and analysts to discuss leadership, transformation, and innovation. Join me and Vala Afshar every Friday for a new episode of CXO-Talk.