Personal data is a highly debated topic in the modern world. Web 2.0 applications are built on internet infrastructure that utilizes users’ information. Applications and websites improve their products by capturing users’ information and opinions. Social media platforms and search engines sell user data to companies seeking to maximize the value of users for their businesses through highly targeted ads and predictive analytics. All major centralized players such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple rely on their users’ categorical data to make prediction products.
As a consequence, the internet has become a battleground for user attention propelling tech giants to US$ trillions in valuation as the digital space becomes increasingly focused on luring users into unproductive online behaviour rather than value creation. Contextualized data can help companies understand how consumers engage with and respond to their marketing campaigns and adjust accordingly. This highly predictive use case gives businesses an idea of what consumers want based on what they have already done.
Despite our data being monetized everywhere around us by almost every application we interact with on a day-to-day basis, we have zero ownership of it and do not benefit from its sale. Instead, the data brokers have monopolized the data market and benefit greatly from it.
Data brokers (aka information brokers, data providers, and data suppliers) are companies that collect or buy data from other companies, crawl the internet for useful information about users – legally or otherwise – and aggregate that information with data from other sources. Data brokerage involves sourcing and aggregating data and reselling the most valuable categories of users to third parties.
Web3 creates a new premise that enables true ownership of assets and, perhaps even more exciting, true ownership of data, which can also be turned into a lucrative asset. These innovations can help transform this one-sided data economy into a vibrant marketplace, where data producers can decide what information should be accessed, used, traded, and, more importantly, the benefits they receive in return. A web where freedom of data enables permissionless innovation by default will drive a new form of software development. In this Web, developers can quickly construct applications from open state components and power their efforts with new business models enabled from within the software itself, rather than rely on a parasitic relationship with their users.
We see the following problems in the current data economy:
Over the last few years, data leaks, hacks, and social engineering attacks have increased tremendously. According to an IBM report, the average data breach cost in 2022 is $4.35 mn, a 2.6% rise from 2021. The healthcare industry has the highest data breach costs. In 2022, the healthcare industry is paying an average of US$ 10.10 million for a data breach, 9.4% more than the figure in 2021.
This rapid increase can be attributed to the growth of the data economy. Most Web 2.0 business models focus on monetizing their users via ad revenue, which requires collecting and storing user data, making it a very attractive target for hackers. This harms the end users of these platforms significantly once this data is exposed.
Due to a fundamental misalignment between contributors and aggregators, it is extraordinarily difficult to collect a large number of unique data sets. Data contributors are rarely compensated for their contributions (beyond their own care) because they do not have a right to the value created by aggregate data nor a right to regulate how their data is used, which has been repeatedly violated.
Itheum is a decentralized data brokerage platform that transforms personal data into a highly tradable asset class. It creates a bridge between Data creators and Data Consumers and provides them with the tools required to own and trade data on the blockchain.
It aims to be an end-to-end platform required for personal data in the web3 ecosystem to enable real-world and complex use cases using a cross-chain web3 protocol to enable data ownership, data sovereignty, and fair compensation.
The Itheum Platform has three core products:
Data Collection and Analytics Toolkit
Users can be onboarded onto the data collection platform to seamlessly build apps and programs that can collect structured and rich personal data from users and provide visual trends and patterns on the collected data. This product enables the creation of highly structured, outcome-oriented, and normalized personal datasets in the background while users are interacting with a particular application. This provides a seamless experience for the end user and provides structured and highly contextual data for the prospective buyer.
Decentralized Data Exchange (DEX)
This product enables users to own and trade their personal data collected by organizations that build apps on Itheum’s data collection and analytics platform. It unlocks the personal data from these organization silos, and lets users earn a passive income by trading their personal data on the open market with other organizations that can derive value from the datasets.
Using the Itheum DEX, users can sell their data via a peer-to-peer, direct sale method or using their Data Coalition technology and align to a decentralized entity that will trade the data and compensate users after the trade of their data. The Data DEX essentially stores sensitive personal data into secure data vaults and allows users to wrap data as an NFT and earn royalties on the data.
The Data DEX will act as the core protocol layer enabling decentralized data ownership and trade. This protocol can be abstracted with more products built on top of it.
Current Web 3.0 data platforms have low adoption and hype. The concepts behind data trading and blockchain-backed data technology are hard for people to grasp. By integrating the metaverse layer, serious and complicated ideas about who owns data are being simplified into easy-to-use consumer products. The metaverse layer intends to normalize the concepts of data trade and ownership.
The key offerings of the Data Metaverse ecosystem are:
N.F.Me: N.F.Me is a digital avatar identity built on NFT technology and backed by personal data. Users can mint an N.F.Me on the Itheum platform. As users provide more data via the Itheum Data DEX, or via Data Coalition DAOs, more accessories are minted and linked to the user N.F.Me.
Data NFTs: N.F.Me’s can choose to take subsets of their data and mint them into separate Data NFTs. These Data NFTs are linked to the base N.F.Me but can be independently traded in the Data NFT marketplace, or secondary marketplaces such as OpenSea.
Data Coalition DAOs: Personal data generates a lot more value when traded in bulk. Data Coalition DAOs are enterprises or groups that trade bulk datasets on behalf of a large group of individual users. Users are better incentivized to align themselves with a DAO to have their data grouped into a large dataset. These DAOs will in turn make sure that the user’s best interests are taken care of during any trade of data that happens.
Greenroom Protocol: The Greenroom Protocol is Itheum’s initiative for open-standard metaverse interoperability. It defines a set of rules and standards to define NFT metadata that can then be implemented across Metaverse platforms.
Itheum is not only ahead of its competitors in terms of its technology, but the product also has been designed by taking a holistic approach focusing on the way they’re used rather than just how they look. The team has done thorough product research by understanding similar products and talking to their users and a few target users for their use cases while prototyping the UX. The website has been developed with tech optimizations, giving them a Google’s Lighthouse performance score greater than 90 and an SEO score of 89. These optimized metrics give users an optimized experience and help Itheum with its marketing.
The aggregation of the above components creates a complete solution that is not intimidating for the end user through gamified via the use of avatars and NFTs. Their integration with Zoidpay shows us the clean and simplified UX for the end user.
Designing a product that appeals to different use cases and users with varied backgrounds and goals is a complicated task. But, the Itheum team has done a great job in designing the Data Marketplace, providing easy navigation and serving a variety of use cases via their platform.
Itheum will be leveraging the Web3 infrastructure of the Elrond network. Elrond focuses on building a robust ecosystem of unique applications to spur innovations and bring a wider user base compared to the same set of DeFi and NFT applications being replicated and launched on other layer-1 platforms. To learn more about Elrond’s state-of-the-art technology and vision for global adoption – read here
Data is ubiquitous, which provides unlimited avenues for Itheum and their use cases.
Itheum’s comprehensive solution allows it to cover a wide range of use cases and applications.
Healthcare data is precious. According to a Trustwave report, a healthcare data record may be valued at up to $250 per record on the black market, compared to $5.40 for the next highest value record (a payment card). Itheum has done multiple campaigns with the OkPulse and the Red heart challenge. These platforms leverage the Data Collection Toolkit to collect valuable patient-generated health and wellness data, emphasising on providing ownership to the end user. Itheum’s base layer allows the user to trade their data securely, and monetise it via platforms that they trust.
They also partnered with SanoPass metaverse, which provides access to traditional healthcare and wellness providers via remote and telemedicine services to empower users and patients to own and operate their health data and discover the infinite opportunities for doing so. Sanopass users will be generating behavioural data, including visits to their gyms, doctors, hospitals, and other health information like age, health status, illnesses, and so on. Every day, Sanopass users will be generating this valuable data and have the opportunity to trade it with data consumers, like insurance companies, medical centres, and apps that are setting up shop in the Metaverse.
Itheum has partnered with various guilds and games in the web3 ecosystem with a feature they recently launched; Gamer passports. Gamer Passports are built on top of Itheum’s NFMe ID data-backed avatar technology and provide distinctive new value to gamers, guilds, and the game platform itself, as they seek to unlock valuable gamer insights. Gamers mint and claim an NFMe ID Avatar (a soulbound NFT that’s linked to their identity) which will exist in their cryptocurrency wallets as their unique Gamer Passport. Gamers can now claim and own their on-chain and off-chain player data as they move between guilds and the broader Web3 gaming ecosystem.
Itheum has also partnered with Zoidpay, to improve the user experience for end retail users, and provide them with the right incentives to share their data. Targeted ads, shopping histories, and interests are being exploited by data brokers to re-target users with similar products. The collaboration will enable users to shop freely in the metaverse using their personal data preferences and provide them with discounts or free services on sharing data.
Data is a highly valuable commodity in the modern world, and user data is being misused heavily by technology companies and data brokers. The regulation heavily focuses on securing that data but does not provide a way for users to compensate for the data they generate. Web3 and the business models associated with this innovative technology enable a flourishing ecosystem for proper monetisation and value accrual of user-generated data to the right people. Itheum provides a complete end-to-end solution for the data economies of the world and consists of an extensive set of tools to bridge Web 2.0 data into a Web 3.0 economy. Itheum’s data solutions have won multiple hackathons, including 1st place in the Filecoin global grants vote, Hedera Hashgraph grant, and PlatON Hackathon. Itheum has also secured finalist positions in Harmony, Polygon, and DAOHack hackathons. With the claims portal going live, we will see the first functionality unlocked for the monetization of user data.
Disclosure and Risk Warning
Woodstock Fund is an investor in Itheum. Every financial product, asset class, or investment has risk. A cryptocurrency (also known as digital tokens, digital coins, or crypto(s)) is no different. That is why it is important for users and limited liability partners to be aware of the potential risks present in cryptocurrency and blockchain projects. You should not invest funds in the cryptocurrency market that you are not prepared to completely lose; i.e., only allocate risk capital to digital tokens. Furthermore, we will not accept liability for any loss or damage that may arise directly or indirectly from any such investments.
Author – Vokkant Thakkar