Workshop 2: 14:10 – 15:40

A new insights infrastructure opening access to private sector financial transaction datasets for research in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Location: 2D3, Priory Road Complex, University of Bristol, 12 Priory Rd, Bristol BS8 1TU

Organisers: Oliver Berry, Magdalena Getler, Mike Spencer & Nathan Bourne (Smart Data Foundry)

For any questions about the workshop, please contact Oliver Berry on




We present a new data insights infrastructure focused on income volatility and wider economic insecurity. Generated in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the infrastructure is built on consumer transaction data and consists of a GB-wide dashboard and Trusted Research Environment. Outputs include near-real time estimates of key financial volatility indicators such as benefit claim rates, income intervals, and income variability. As a mission-driven organisation aligned with the purpose of JRF, we see clear benefits to opening this data to research for public good, with the potential for direct routes to impact through policy and practice.

Individual level customer transaction data provides a rich and novel form of digital footprint data for behavioural and economic analyses. Every point of income or expenditure is recorded in a uniquely valuable digital footprint by financial institutions. These can provide a variety of insights, such as responses to macroeconomic shocks across demographic sets, or emerging areas of financial distress, and help us better understand the drivers and risks of financial vulnerability. In both its aggregated and individual form, the data can provide an additional layer of understanding for many of the trends we may see in other data, such as health or administrative data.

This infrastructure is designed around a dataset of weekly-aggregated transactions for roughly five million NatWest Group current account customers dating back to mid-2019. The data are processed under Legitimate Interest through GDPR and are subject to stringent information governance procedures—including the Five Safes model—and sit within a Trusted Research Environment maintained by EPCC (formerly the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre).

This workshop consists of an exploration of the potential use cases and applications of this novel data and its aggregations. Through this workshop attendees will:

  • Understand the opportunities for and barriers to carrying out research with transactional data. This includes for example, issues around the data governance and representativeness of this data.
  • Identify possible use cases of this data for social good.
Workshop Programme (exact times and names TBC):
  • Registration
  • Workshop aims and goals (as above)
  • Introduction to the Income Volatility data infrastructure with a demonstration
  • Rapid-fire talks on potential use cases
  • Breakout discussion groups on opportunities and barriers of using novel types of data for research in the public interest
  • Plenary discussion and a summary of discussions