Data is the new currency – as in you can get money for it

Image credit: pathdoc /

Remember when industry observers used to say that data is the new oil and we used to nod and agree and secretly wonder what they meant? Then they said that data is the new currency and we thought “but Facebook, Google and the rest own our data, so they must own our currency.”

This, of course, not only turned out to be true but also started the privacy wars which are now entering a very interesting phase.

Since May (actually the day that the GDPR came into effect) data has actually become a new currency. As in, you can earn money from your data.

The concept of vendor relationship management (VRM) has been around for a while now, driven by people at Harvard and elsewhere who believed that internet giants misusing our data was just plain wrong.

The idea is that data has value and that – the customer – should own it and get the value from it. If you are looking for cinema tickets, new clothes, a holiday or whatever, then you should be able to ‘publish’ this somehow and then choose offers that are sent to you by vendors that you like.

Enter Killi.

Killi is an app, owned by Freckle IoT, that allows this to happen. Already GM, McDonalds and Staceys have signed up and are paying real money to real people to give them something back for the things they sell them.

Although Killi is not alone in this crusade – and there are barriers to success in the form of connecting to other sites, through APIs that keep being changed without warning or notification – it must be a step in the right direction.

Even if these barriers can be overcome, in the early stages the amount of money is not going to be big. The model needs scale and, like a fax machine, is of no value whatsoever if there is only one person with the app. So far there are some 70,000 Killi subscribers and there is an advertising campaign in place that will hopefully mean such apps reach the scale they need to deliver meaningful amounts of money to a meaningful number of people.

This is obviously interesting for anyone who gets cross about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, or the fact that internet companies have been harvesting their data for years without actually telling them. They did tell them, of course, but only in a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy kind of way.

What is interesting for our ‘industry’ (whether that be telecoms, IT, FinTech, IoT or blockchain) is that it is a good example of IoT in action (the company is called Freckle IoT) and all the ‘data transactions’ that take place between McDonald’s and you are managed and settled via a blockchain.

All of which is pretty cool (unless you are Facebook or Google) – not just because it shows that IoT and blockchain technology are ‘disappearing’, but also because this seems to be the first real example of someone doing something sensible about the privacy problem, which involves more than just shouting, deleting Facebook or lying in front of bulldozers.

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