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Docomo to share data on 70m Japanese customers

Mobile carrier pledges to increase security on privacy concerns

Docomo's "d point" has 300 partner companies and is one of the four largest loyalty programs in Japan.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Top Japanese wireless carrier NTT Docomo will provide access to its consumer data on the nearly 70 million members of its reward points program to its partner companies while promising to bolster protection of the information to address privacy concerns.

The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone unit's "d point" program carries more than 300 partners including convenience store operator Lawson, department store business Takashimaya and drugstore operator Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings. Shoppers earn loyalty points at these businesses and redeem them to buy new phones, shop for apparel online or use video streaming services.

The program had about 68 million members as of the end of 2018. Docomo aims to add another 10 million over the next three years. It will begin marketing the data in the fiscal year beginning next month.

The company plans to analyze member information with their consent and sell access to the database. Buyers could study consumer behavior based on location, age and gender, improving product development and marketing campaigns. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Docomo operates one of the four dominant consumer loyalty programs in Japan.

Mitsubishi Corp.'s Ponta program boasts around 90 million members. The T Point program for Tsutaya bookstores and partners has 68 million members, with operator Culture Convenience Club using purchase data to help other companies with sales promotions. Virtual mall operator Rakuten uses data from its Rakuten Super Points program, with about 100 million members, for targeted advertisements.

The use of loyalty programs for data-related businesses is likely to accelerate. But consumer data breaches at U.S. technology giants Facebook and Google have fueled concerns about safeguarding information. Docomo will bolster security measures, devise stricter rules for information management and urge partner companies to comply.

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