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Bank of Israel Requires Intimate Information About Israelis’ Consumption Habits

Publications / Sep 01, 2021

Article written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

Israel’s central bank, the Bank of Israel (BoI), has published a set of requirements compelling commercial banks and credit card companies to disclose a comprehensive list of personal information regarding their consumers’ consumption habits. The information will be stored by the BoI in a designated central database. The BoI had initially requested to receive information spanning the last seven years, but following protest by the banks and credit card companies, the period was reduced to five years.

The BoI wishes to receive reports about credit card expenses, divided by sector of activity. According to the BoI, this is required to examine consumer spending in each sector, including pharmacies, education and leisure, food chains, electronics and appliance, clothing, furniture, tourism, restaurants, fuel, and transportation. The BoI also asks to receive reports about the use of cheques and cash withdrawals, to examine trends in the payments market.

The information included in the requested reports covers personal information at a massive scope. The BoI explained that upon receiving information about a given consumer from a given source, the information will be pseudonymized to remove any direct identifiers, and only then will it be combined with other information received about that consumer from other sources. However, experts warn that this information can still be reidentified, due to its high degree of sensitivity. The BoI responded to these concerns by stating that the information is collected in compliance with the highest and most stringent standards of privacy. It reassured that the information will be deleted from the database once it is no longer necessary.