How do you know a person well enough to understand their motives, their actions, their aspirations and needs? It can be difficult even among friends and relatives one has known for years, let alone for a financial institution with hundreds of thousands of customers. Some people say it's impossible for a large bank like Citi or Bank of America to really know its customers.

Yet the amount of publicly available data about each and every one of us grows all the time, to the point where an organization with the will, the patience and the right software can analyze in detail our financial transactions, our habits, our political leanings, our preferences and our geographic location, among other things.

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