Why People Should Profit Off Their Own Personal Data
A startup tells PSFK how it's helping people take ownership of their data and sell it to businesses anonymously
The digital era has made it easier for consumers and businesses to directly connect. Unfortunately, accumulation of user data has led to data brokers selling this information without any consent from or compensation for said consumers. DataWallet seeks to shift the dynamics of this phenomenon by providing a way for users to directly sell their data to businesses anonymously.
Each transaction can lead to users collecting up to $50 every transaction. The app recently launched and already has almost 20,000 people on the waitlist. This new extension of the digital economy has the potential to disrupt the products and services businesses provide.
PSFK spoke with founder and CEO Serafin Engel about how DataWallet seeks to disrupt the world of data.
1. What is the problem DataWallet seeks to solve?
There are two problems actually, one on the user side and one on the enterprise side. On the user side, you create roughly 6.5G of data every day and you create this on hundreds of platforms. While you create all this data, you do not necessarily own it. There are companies trying to snatch this data behind your back and sell the profile to marketers. It is one of the largest sectors of the online economy. $360 billion is spent on attaining this data in the United States alone each year.
The sharing economy focuses on making your car or your house available, but there is only one growing asset, which is data. There is no way for people to control who has access to their data and who may profit from it.
2. How is the personal data DataWallet provides different from the data that companies already have access to?
On the enterprise side, the companies that are doing the data sourcing are limited in accessing data. For example, on Facebook, information on birthdays and hometowns might be available. However, most likely, they cannot access what you have liked or posted on Facebook—which is the information most interesting for marketers. Marketers simply do not have access to high-quality data and are paying a lot of money for this subpar data. DataWallet allows users to charge money and reclaim profits. At the same time, enterprises can make better decisions based on detailed data.
We have technology that removes any personal information and puts it into your DataWallet. It’s a completely new data universe that is opening up to the enterprise side.
3. Can people stop their data from being sold behind their backs?
That’s a good question. Not immediately. There are definitely tools out there that allow you to stop tracking. There is actually a tracking blocker that will click on every ad to create a ton of noise. That’s a way to stop it.
4. How does DataWallet work to benefit both consumers and businesses?
In relation to DataWallet, data brokers will stop taking your data and sourcing it. With the model we’ve devised, since you are offering the data itself, the data you provide is exponentially insightful. Hence, there is no incentive for businesses to purchase from data brokers ever again. The process will make data brokers go out of business. You set up the app once and we take care of the rest. We have built out an entire data value chain that allows us to protect you anonymously.
5. What are the benefits of ‘Big Data”?
Think about it this way: For me in college, I had to go sit in a lab once a month to fill out a survey that Fortune 500 companies had commissioned my university to give out. I would sit in a cubicle, in a bizarre setting, for one to three hours and fill out repetitive information. Basically, companies are using surveys to get people to create data about the things that they like. The thing is, it costs a lot of money and time to execute. The process of research is long because you get thousands of people to fill out the survey. By the time you get the insights, six months have already passed. Your data is outdated.
People create data all the time in this digital era. These are cold hard facts about our behaviors. We can make it available in a matter of seconds. DataWallet can get it from thousands of respondents. These insights will help companies understand in an unprecedented level, who their consumers are and what they care about in real time. Data is not artificially created or in retrospect. Personalization of services will be able to happen.
This is the next logical step for the sharing economy. Not only are people making money of the DataWallet, but we are helping you protect your assets.