UBDI raises about $1 million for a blockchain-powered platform that empowers consumers to monetize insights from personal data, creating a Universal Basic Data Income
Every time we go online, we create valuable data points for every action we take including clicks, searches, likes, posts, purchases, and many more. We leave behind our digital trails or data about actions and activities, with little or no regard to what happen to the data. These digital trails or footprints are later captured, analyzed and sold for profit by tech giants like Google and Facebook. These digital trails are captured regardless of the devices we use–computers, smartphones, cameras etc.
The sad thing is, none of these tech giants pay their users for the data they are profiting from. “Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber or glass — its inputs,” said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist who recently did an analysis of the value of data. “That’s what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet deal.”
To solve this problem, one young blockchain startup is on mission to help consumer profiting from their own digital trails. UBDI, which stands for “Universal Basic Data Income,” is a new blockchain startup that allows individuals to get compensated for sharing anonymous, aggregated insights from their data for market research and business intelligence. Companies pay for the information they need while members’ data stays on their devices in a secure, encrypted, and decentralized data vault that only they have access to. Members are paid with cash and UBDI points that track their contributions to the community for future rewards as the community grows in size and value.
Yesterday, UBDI announced it has $825k in pre-seed round to empower consumers to generate revenue by selling anonymized insights gleaned from personal data to market researchers. Concurrent with the funding announcement, UBDI was also selected to present at the Finovate fintech conference in New York on September 23-25 and at the MyData privacy and personal data conference in Helsinki on September 26-27.
The company has offices in Washington, DC and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and will use funds to grow its team, sales, and marketing efforts. The round was led by DG Lab Fund II (Tokyo/SF) and HU Investments (NY, London, India) with PurposeBuilt Ventures (SF) participating with other backers.
UBDI believes it can generate $1,000 for individuals each year with minimal setup time linking accounts, and just a few hours over the course of the year approving studies and answering a few follow on questions. Because a consumer’s data prequalifies them for certain research studies, researchers are able to provide better financial incentives than traditional studies because there is less waste and higher quality results.
“We are on a mission to show that privacy and the demand for data can work together in a way that financially benefits consumers,” said Dana Budzyn, co-founder and CEO of UBDI. “We are empowering individuals to be at the center of data sharing, analytics, and monetization, and we are grateful to these investors for sharing our belief that the data economy needs this fundamental transformation before it’s too late. Empowering people with their data isn’t something to be feared, and it is long overdue.”
“The $76 billion market research and insights industry is an ideal starting point for UBDI. I’ve watched brands spend incredible amounts of money with little or no return on their investment because of the low quality of data and survey results,” said Todd Cullen, who also previously served as the first Chief Data Officer at Ogilvy (WPP) and led the global data products division at Acxiom. “UBDI is building a bridge from where the market research industry is today to a transparent model that delivers better results for brands while preserving privacy. It’s a win-win.”
UBDI, currently in beta, has a consumer app for individuals to participate in financial, social, entertainment, fitness, and health research studies — and to be compensated for their participation in return. Its online research portal allows businesses, government, universities, and organizations to create studies and analyze aggregated, anonymized results, protecting participants’ privacy and identity. Earlier this year, the company announced a strategic partnership with the global privacy and personal data management provider digi.me of the UK.
“For years, people have been seeking a way to see the value of their data in their own pocketbooks,” said Hank Uberoi. “I immediately saw that UBDI wasn’t just solving that for individuals, but they were fundamentally disrupting and improving how companies understand their customers. Market research is just the beginning.”
Unlike other data monetization efforts, UBDI’s studies often need less than 1,000 participants to be statistically relevant to brands. UBDI’s PrivateMatch technology ensures researchers find exactly the population of participants they are looking for without UBDI or the brand knowing who they are.
“I personally have over three and a half million accurate, verified and constantly-updating data points about my life in my data vault,” said Shane Green, co-founder and chair of UBDI and CEO (US) of digi.me. “UBDI allows me to be matched anonymously with studies seeking that data and for my data to answer more than 70% of questions traditionally asked in surveys. There simply isn’t another approach as compelling – or ethical – as a person empowered with their data.”