Having worked with and spoken to senior executives across a number of major retail, gas, convenience, grocery, and hospitality chains, I find myself often being asked: “how do customers feel about sharing their personal data?” Based on my experience and data, the simple answer is: much more comfortable than several years ago – and the younger generations are very willing to share data for compelling reasons – especially with brands they trust.

We all know that person who swears off the digital world (if that is even possible now), only carrying cash or stuffing their credit cards in an aluminum foil wallet – like Howard from Better Call Saul wrapping himself with emergency blankets. The reality is, the digital world – and our data in it – is here to stay. The question now becomes not whether we will or won’t share our data, but how and when will we.

According to a recent study performed by INTEL SECURITY:

A majority of respondents worldwide indicated they might be willing to share their personal data collected from their smart home with companies in exchange for money and that Millennials are more comfortable sharing their behavioural data than other generations.

INTEL, focusing on IoT and connected homes and polling 9,000 individuals from nine countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States also found that:

70 percent agree companies should give coupons and discounts to customers in return for data about device usage.

Like most people I know, I am a member of (and frequently use) at least a dozen loyalty programs, and many more when you include my participation in SmoothPay, coalition programs like Air Miles and Aeroplan, and use of a Visa card that provides me points all my purchases. Having built and managed the platforms driving loyalty programs associated with billions in sales for my clients, I can tell you from experience that many, many, consumers are comfortable exchanging data if there is a discount, offer, or reward involved. These programs definitely motivate consumers and shift behavior. But don’t take it from me…

The Nielsen Global Survey of Loyalty Sentiment polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to evaluate consumer views on loyalty levels across 16 categories that range from a fast-moving consumer goods staple to technology products to retail establishments and found that:

84 percent of respondents said they were more likely to choose retailers that offered a loyalty program.

The subject of privacy is close to my heart as a consumer, a CEO of a payment, loyalty and engagement company, and as a techie having developed products and experiences for the web since the 90’s when people still asked if the Internet was here to stay. As a consumer, my hope and expectation is that my data is being safeguarded, anonymized, and used only in responsible ways. I have seen first hand that companies are going a great distance to ensure their customer data is protected.

At SmoothPay, our programs use location, email, SMS, push notifications, and personalized in-app content to deliver the best and most meaningful offers to the customer. Without data there is no way to effectively do this. Our approach is one of full transparency and choice; we give the user options and we treat the data with the utmost care and respect. It makes me proud to say that the SmoothPay team is always forthright about security and privacy when discussing our specific products and services, advising and keeping our clients up to date on best practices.

Brian Deck is CEO and Co-Founder of SmoothPayment Inc.

The SmoothPay platform powers branded apps that combine payment and loyalty (similar to the Starbucks app) for the consumer, while giving the business the means to improve their sales and operations by more effectively engaging their customers.