A French Lesson

We’re used to technology advancing at an exciting pace. After all, at Castlight we are responsible for disrupting the status quo of the way people bank, obtain mortgages, secure loans, make investments and climb out of debt. Our data scientists are pushing boundaries every day and creating products and services that have never existed before. That means we are constantly having to name things – the Affordability Passport, CastScore and CaaS are just a few of the product names we’ve recently had to brainstorm around a table.

But it’s not just brand-new product names that are evolving. In the last few decades, thousands of new words have entered our lexicon that weren’t needed before such as fintech itself, which amazingly only made it into American on-line dictionary Merriam-Webster in September this year!

Les Données

And of course, the language of technology is not only evolving in English, it’s evolving in languages around the globe. Sometimes we share or borrow the new words across languages – the French, for instance, will send “un tweet” or post something on “le Facebook”. But sometimes, a translation will stop you in your tracks and make you think about what a word really means.

One of my favourite words is the French for “data”. And it’s not “le data”. It’s “les données”, which comes from the French verb “donner” meaning “to give”. Data, to the French, is something that is given, it’s a gift.

I’ve blogged in the past about data being the new oil and so have other people in the fintech community, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it called “a gift”.

I think the French are spot on to coin a word for data, wrapped in the linguistic sense of it being something valuable, something that is given, a gift.

Gift of Financial Security

It made me think of our Affordability Passport and CastScore too, both of which are of course, all about data. These products use open banking technology to access a customer’s bank accounts, analyse and categorise their income and expenditure and provide the customer with an Affordability Passport or CastScore which can then be used to open doors to safe loans.

Intrinsic to this process is that fact that the customer’s data is valuable. It’s theirs to give to someone they trust. And I believe that when they give it to us, we are able to give something back to them which is even more valuable.

Le CastScore and L’Affordability Passport peut-être?

Or in plain English – the gift of financial security.

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