Exploring How Data Marketplaces May Work With Blockchain-Based Identity

Blog | 14 March 2019

There have been multiple articles condemning Facebook and Google for making money off their users’ data. Today, two things are making this more difficult.

  • GDPR and its requirements to gain consent in order to use customer data;
  • Many vendors in the blockchain-based identity space such as Pikcio are decentralizing identity data. They give control back to users, keeping data out of centralized third-party applications.

  With more personal control over our data, we now stand to gain from monetizing our own data. Getting the profit that currently goes to big tech vendors, credit bureaus, hospitals and any organization with a large store of consumer data. Businesses paying directly for our data seems like a great move forward in terms of fairness for users. However, many questions need to be addressed in the move to monetization, including:

  • How will data buyers find the data sellers (and vice versa)?
  • How can data monetization happen easily without forcing data buyers to literally transact with each user individually? It is an expensive, cumbersome process if the buyer wants to procure a large data set;
  • To what extent do users have to become negotiators on their own behalf, deciding on a case-by-case basis what data to share and how much to charge?

Data marketplaces as useful intermediaries

A new intermediary will address these questions: a data marketplace or (more likely) multiple data marketplaces. Some blockchain proponents love to discuss how blockchain’s peer-to-peer trust model removes intermediaries. In reality, blockchain will remove middlemen that add no value, while creating new market-moving intermediaries. Data marketplaces will be value-adding connectors that play a key role in helping data buyers and sellers find each other.

How data transactions work

Data marketplaces will be hubs where consumers can choose to connect and see what buying offers are available, based on what kinds of data the consumer is willing to share. The seller can do this at an individualized level. The seller evaluates each opportunity individually before deciding to participate. For example, they can be willing to let researchers buy anonymized health data but not pharmaceutical companies. Alternatively, the seller can decide on a larger scale that they are always willing to monetize certain kinds of data (e.g. clothing purchase habits). Buyers will connect to the marketplace to place offers to buy data, outlining what they are willing to pay and how the data will be used. These offers will then get broadcast to buyers based on applicability and user pre-defined settings. There may even be some negotiation function where sellers and sellers can refine the existing offers. In many cases, these data marketplaces represent new ventures, either as add-ons to other decentralized applications or as standalone apps that are integrated to existing systems. In other cases, it is likely some vendors who already have large data stores and access to large customer sets will become data marketplaces. Telecom vendors, for example, could refine their business models to share data monetization revenue with customers. Big tech vendors could do the same. They would have to:  

  • Offer more transparency to data sharing;
  • Create consent mechanisms;
  • Create an equitable revenue sharing model.

Future prospects

As data marketplaces emerge and blockchain-based identity matures, they will create new value for consumers and enterprises. Thus, the first step will be to ensure solid, trustable blockchain-based identity solutions as the foundation for any consumer-led data monetization. Then, with a core reusable identity data store, consumers can participate by selling non-identifiable data or anonymized data knowing there is transparency in the process, privacy in the data sharing, and equity in the financial incentives.

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