The new Data Economy enabled by the Blockchain

Data is the new oil. I’m sure you’ve heard this saying more than once.

So, why are we giving it away for free?

Facebook has currently a market capitalisation of 374 billion USD, for basically having the biggest person database (or CRM system, if you like), and day by day we are feeding it with even more data, information and content, giving it away for absolutely nothing.

I have spoken with several entrepreneurs in the blockchain ecosphere and one topic that regularly comes up is that, in the future users could be remunerated if they provide data, of any kind, to a company.

For example, were I to measure my pulse or blood pressure with an internet-connected device and a company was interested in the information it provided, I would only share it if I were to get something in return. The same applies to weather data from my phone or personal weather station, my photos with a tag, data from my “internet of things” devices, information from my car… The list is almost endless.

However, there are currently two essential elements missing to make this a reality:

1.) User awareness of the value of their data, information and the content they provide

2.) A cheap, fast, scalable and user friendly internet-based payment system, which also works for very small transactions

The first, may not seem easy to achieve, at first, but it is my opinion that, if one company starts paying for data, it could become a fast growing trend and other companies would follow suit.

The second, may happen sooner than we think, if you believe the blockchain evangelists. I won’t go much further into that topic here, since it has already been heavily discussed in countless other blogs, suffice to say that I share the view that we will indeed see such a system appear before too long.

I do not believe that companies would be unwilling to pay for one of their most essential resources: information. They are, certainly, more aware of its value than the regular consumer.

Imagine what a paradigm shift this would be. Each information generating piece of software or device, which is connected to the internet, would basically, have a “button” to release the data, which is being generated, to someone who is willing to pay for it. There could even be an auction scenario, if there is more than one interested party. Or it could be automated, if the owner doesn’t care who is buying the information. If you have a social media account, you could get money for the content provided. The content could be rated (using artificial intelligence, of course) and the higher the score, the more you would get paid. Each piece of information would be valued and traded, accordingly.

On the other side the consumption of information and content would obviously also come more often with a price tag. Personally, I have never understood why certain content in the internet should be free, when in the business world, especially in finance, qualified information is seriously expensive (e.g. Bloomberg, Reuters etc).

So yes, in the end the consumer will maybe not be better off as the proceeds of the data and information sold, will counterweight the bill for the content consumed. But the big difference is that the people who produce data, information and content will get their fair share and the ones who monetise on it will pay for their resources.

If data is really the new oil it should be treated and traded accordingly.

Any thoughts?