The head of payment processing firm Mastercard has told an audience in Saudi Arabia that data could be as effective as oil as a means of generating wealth.
Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard, was speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, on a panel debating how business and society is coping with an explosion of digital information.
"I believe that data is the new oil. I am saying it in this country because I believe that the prosperity that oil brought in the last 50 years, data will bring in the next 50, 100 years if you use it the right way," Banga said.
He added that data had the additional advantage of not being a finite resource.
Banga told the audience that Mastercard was using data to inform its clients how they can improve top-line business.
"I use it for everything from Boots trying to figure out where to relocate its pharmacies, or for McDonald's trying to figure out if they should have all-day breakfasts in their menu," he said.