If you use any third-party finance tools (such as Mint, Personal Capital, You Need A Budget, etc.), the tool very likely uses Plaid. Plaid is an API service for securely accessing bank transactions, balances, and so on. It does so by using token authentication to your bank(s). This data then passes through Plaid’s systems decrypted, so if you use these tools, Plaid knows every financial transaction across all of your connected accounts, including balances. The app developers (such as Intuit, who also owns TurboTax and Quicken) also have a copy of this data.
Visa now wants to buy Plaid. This will grant Visa visibility into every transaction you make, across every connected account.
Why is this data valuable to them? It can be used to assess credit-worthiness for Visa’s own products. Furthermore, Visa already has loads of data on consumers since so many of us have Visa cards. Every transaction that goes through Visa’s systems is recorded and part of your permanent record. Adding Plaid will only enhance their data set. That data set can then be repackaged and sold to marketing firms, advertisers, and law enforcement.
The only way to opt-out of this system is to a) abstain from using tools like Mint which use Plaid to access your financial data, and b) use cash where possible.
Covid-19 is now being used to promote a cashless society. I’ve already had several businesses tell me they “strongly prefer” I pay electronically. Today businesses are still legally required to accept cash, but that could change.
Unless you can pay with cash, there is no way to opt of out this system wherein your financial transactions are being recorded, packaged, and sold. We should expect to see more mergers of this sort in the future.
I use Mint myself, but I am looking to transition to an open source solution in the future. Unfortunately, all of the ones I have seen require Plaid accounts. It may not currently be possible to recreate the software features of Mint without running afoul of the surveillance system.