Moving beyond advertising and e-commerce, peer to peer exchange of personal data can create a powerful new business model for the internet
If you were active on the internet in the early 90’s as I was, you knew it was revolutionary to you – but meh to the general populace. Email and browsing was very limited, and few people understood the power of the upcoming revolution of the consumer web. There was a lot of invention, but very limited adoption, and little sense of business models, with most projects being open source, contributed by a few hero programmers.
What really scaled the consumer web up was a pivot of focus towards Adoption (e.g. better UX offered by Netscape) and Business Models (who knew this could work). The latter was especially important, because it created strong incentives for further invention and adoption. Few people realize that the most successful companies of the dot com era relied more on ingenious business models – Google Search’s performance based advertising model for low-tier customers is an example – than on inventing better tech.
That’s lasted a good 25 years. Selling (e-Commerce) and offering to sell (Advertising) is a booming business, likely pulling in close to a half Trillion USD in sales every year globally. However, this comes at significant cost to user experience. Current business models incentivize hoarding of user’s personal data, silo-izing it, surveilling users secretly, selling it to 3rd parties, while imposing onerous privacy policies. And with all of these stockpiles of data, how often have you seen a useful ad that actually led to a purchase? Despite ALL of that data, and despite ALL of that sweet, juicy artificial intelligence, the brightest engineers – what do you think of a technology that is wrong 99.95% of the time?
Despite ALL of that data, and despite ALL of that sweet, juicy artificial intelligence, the brightest engineers – what do you think of a technology that is wrong 99.95% of the time?
There is a better way. What if you could personalize your Amazon shopping results with your Facebook data? What if you didn’t have to wait for Youtube to release a better mobile app that actually has some decent filters you find useful? In all of these cases, there is a Producer (e.g. an eCommerce seller or an App developer) a Consumer (you!) and an intermediary (BigTechCo.). What if the Producer and Consumer could be placed closer to each other so they can actually find better solutions? That is the basis of efficient free markets, an area where Blockchain tech shines.
Imagine a world where personal data is freely traded – between consenting parties – as opposed to through surveillance mechanisms of tech intermediaries. The analytics data you produce in watching videos online, is valuable to a developer who would want to create a better app than Youtube. Blockchain technology can create such a marketplace, with a strong concept of data ownership with users, and provide them a return monetarily, or in kind (e.g. with better UX). More importantly, it can allow for trading of solutions to common problems that have been solved – say it is Saturday evening and you are looking for a vegetarian restaurant that is good for kids, and has available seating right now, with good parking options. Yes you can Yelp, Opentable, then maybe call a bunch of restaurants if needed. But guess what? That problem was solved by another person 5 minutes ago, who is already at that restaurant. Could you benefit from her personal data, traded on the Blockchain, facilitated by a service, so you don’t have to re-solve the same problem?
This creates a new business model, akin to the stock market, where owners can exchange assets (personal data) for monetary value (in Bitcoin Cash) or for another asset (a solution to a problem they face). This can be automated via software agents that will bid/ask on behalf of the user in the background, guaranteeing maximal return on their personal data. Creators of the marketplace, and developers (who could, say, develop an app that solves a particular problem) could be provided a cut from the bid/ask spread. No advertising, no surveillance, no hacking, full privacy. Free exchange of data with the user’s consent on a P2P basis – powered by Blockchain – is a much better business model for the internet, and an unstoppable idea whose time has come.
Free exchange of data with the user’s consent on a P2P basis – powered by Blockchain – is a much better business model for the internet, and an unstoppable idea whose time has come.