PayPal and the U.S. Department of Commerce have partnered to bolster exports with open data.
In a joint blog post on Aug. 10, Commerce’s Chief Data Officer Ian Kalin announced that the e-commerce site PayPal had committed to sharing data on U.S. export transactions. The endeavor seeks to give U.S. companies, large and small alike, insights on international hot spots for export sales.
As a potential application, Kalin said a growing auto parts manufacturer might use data to decide whether to hunt for customers in East Asia or Eastern Europe, or hold off altogether. The partnership could also yield information on historical trends, industry-specific export averages and ripening product growth areas.
“One of the classic questions that hinders American businesses is where to start exporting or how to expand existing exports,” Kalin said. “Initial experiments with available data indicate that some of the best opportunities may be in providing business owners with targeted benchmarks and opportunity assessments.”
At launch, the partnership will be managed through a working group within the Commerce Data Advisory Council (CDAC), and first data sets will include a mix of PayPal data and Commerce country and product trade data, international transactions reports and reports on the digital economy and cross-border trade.
Kalin acknowledged that there are still many unknowns to work out. For example, PayPal did not specify the exact data sets that will be released or how often it would release and update its data. Even in its early stages, however, Kalin said the partnership should be viewed as a starting point for high-value information.
“Whatever the path of the collaboration, the guiding mission of this working group is to create a public and freely accessible platform that can help small and medium-sized businesses increase their overseas exports,” Kalin said.
Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.