Data is becoming a commodity. A very valuable one. In fact, some analysts already refer to data as the next “oil.”
However, the vast bulk of this information at present is collected only by large businesses. This information includes customer behavior at websites but is not limited to it.
By tokenizing this data and verifying it, such information suddenly becomes not only more complete but also becomes something that can be sold, shared and used for innovation in places like AI.
RepuX has created a new kind of protocol – a hybrid combination blockchain – to enable both the capture of this information and the ability to capitalize on it.
Here is how it works. Companies can sell their anonymized data for tokens. RepuX assigns ratings and a reputation to the data that is collected. Developers can then buy this information to train their own machine learning algorithms and develop DApps. They can then sell these AI-enhanced applications back to the enterprises. This will lead to better decision-making. It will also begin to democratize who has access to this kind of information. RepuX, in fact, hopes to close the “digital divide” between those who have access now and the majority of small to medium businesses, globally, who do not.
We recently sat down with RepuX’s CEO, Marcin Welner, to have a chat with him about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.
Hi, Marcin. Thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and RepuX?
Hi. I’m Marcin. I’m from Poland, father of two, ex-developer, managing teams for almost 10 years now.
This concept sounds awfully techie. But if you had to explain your elevator pitch to a non-tech geek, how would you describe yourself and the unique value you are creating?
Data is becoming a massive commodity now. There are data marketplaces out there but they lack several things – trust between parties, transparency, self-governance, easy payments. That’s where blockchain fits in perfectly. Companies that accumulate a lot of data are aware that there is a great potential is it but are afraid to give it to some random data analyst, at the same time they cannot hire on because they charge a lot, their job is needed just from time to time. On the other side best data analysts prefer to freelance because they don’t fit in into corporate structures.
On the other side if you just want to buy data – for instance, the average salary for a given position you’d usually end up with a report, that was already processed, lacking the methodology used, test group etc.
So in our project, we would like to focus on raw data coming directly from a business owner. In this case, he would just hook up a plugin prepared for this HR software that would grab the data, anonymize it and put it on sale. So the employer would get extra profit without disclosing anything sensitive and you’d get raw data matching your criteria.
How did you come up with the idea and what was the thought process behind it?
Well, it came from the experience of the founders – all three of us were working in corporations and we saw how much data was going to waste.
I was personally working in a logistics company – we were running a set of automated parcel machines (with 70+ compartments each). There is a huge peak season around Christmas each year. It was always very hard to determine how many extra couriers we’d need, how often they should visit the machines to put the new parcels in, how to calculate their routes, how to incentivize the customers to collect their parcels quicker.
It took us a couple of years of gathering experience and making calculations to get to satisfactory results. I’m positive that applying an ML learning algorithms to it at the beginning will get us there quicker.
What is the biggest problem with the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for RepuX to fill?
Trust between SME’s, Data Sources, Developers. This is what want to solve using blockchain based reputation system and transparent smart contracts. Also, security of the data is a factor that many companies point out – we’ll be using a multisignature decentralized storage for it.
What do you think is the biggest problem RepuX will solve and why is the problem important to solve?
— answered that already
You are already functioning, right? Can you talk about your first partners and their reach as well as early results and insights?
We have a working prototype. We launched it in December and many people registered since. Of course it’s functionality is limited to some basic use cases but still, we gathered a lot of insights from it and we know what direction we should be going to.
Right now we’re working on the 1-click amazon integration to showcase how simple it may be for a data source to prepare data for selling. So basically you’d authorize us to collect sales data in your favor and we’ll do the rest.
In the whitepaper, you discuss the idea of a “digital divide” that currently exists between those who have access to this kind of information already and those who do not. Can you explain this a bit more? Finally, the compensation for sharing that data must be considerable – enough to get three large partners on board already. What was the selling point that closed the deal?
As for the digital divide, there are big companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon. They gather tremendous amounts of data – your data and they make a great profit of them. We’d like to break that, allowing you – the real owner of the data to have a chance to have a decent income out of it.
As for the partnerships – at the beginning, we’d be aiming at the data from SaaS software users from China so we’ll be incentivizing business owners themselves. Given the average salary in China guys that are lacking this data – for instance, US importers looking for a new vendor can pay what for them seem marginal but makes a great extra revenue for the Chinese business owner.
Addressing SME’s from other parts of the world can be a challenge – we’d be using a significant part of the ICO funds to get them onboard
Editors Pick: RepuX ICO
Data is becoming commoditized, and blockchain is one of the key technologies that will be involved in that process going forward. Data – all kinds of data – is becoming a valuable commodity . In fact, it might be the next big commodity. Digital information about user habits, preferences and
Regulation-wise, what are the toughest challenges you will have to overcome? Per region which is the hardest market for you to crack or stay in compliance with? The US? Asia? Europe?
All markets have their own regulations but when you look at it from a distance they sum up to two things – personal data and illegal content.
The new law in Europe – GDPR forces you that whenever there is a request from an individual to remove his personal data from your database you are obliged to do so. Same goes for illegal content – like piracy, pornography, stolen data. And in blockchain everything stays forever, similarly, with decentralized storage – it’s tough to get stuff off the network immediately. We came with an idea of multisignature encoding, we’d keep one of the keys needed for decryption so even if the data stays on the network forever it’ll be useless.
You have a very high minimum contribution for the pre-sale and a larger than average contribution for the ICO. What was the thinking behind this strategy?
We wanted our presale users to stay with us for a longer time that’s why we set up the bar so high. We’re talking individually with each one of them – so these are not pump & dump guys.
For the general sale, we wanted to build a strong big community so the limit is really low.
What are the services you plan to offer that excite you the most?
The plugins collecting the data and pumping it into our system. This is a fuel to all Machine Learning / AI algorithms that limiting it’s full evolvement right now.
What has been your happiest moment so far working on RepuX? On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with RepuX?
Talking to non tech-savvy guys about it and seeing they get the idea. We’ve managed to translate the complicated technical idea into something that everyone can understand – hope this interview would serve this purpose as well. We want the product to be the same – of course, there will be an API for developers but we’ll also focus on interfaces and plugins so everyone can jump in easily.
We didn’t expect ICO itself to be so time-consuming. Knowing what I know now I’d start earlier. We’ve managed to get it running on time but we spent a lot of evenings and weekend in the office
What is the indicator you are looking for to tell you that you have begun to achieve your mission?
We’re already getting that – we’re getting a lot of feedback from both blockchain and data communities. But the definitive indicator will be when people will start putting their sensitive data on our platform with no fear.
Tell us more about the REPUX coin. What are the selling points and what does it do in the system?
RepuX is the only way to pay for data and services in the system. There is also a small part for the plugins/applications authors. We would be taking a small commission off each transaction as well.
You are using several different blockchain technologies plus Oracle to create a fast and authenticated throughput of data. Can you explain, quickly and in layman’s terms, why you chose to create your protocol based on these technologies?
For sure the blockchain architecture isn’t meant for big amounts of data. The pure on-chain solution is not optimal because of the responsiveness of the network and transaction fees. So we’ll settle our token on ethereum but we’ll build a separate proof of stake blockchain for the non-payment transactions. Data will be put on a decentralized storage. We are still considering if using our own network is a good idea there would be a need to incentivize the nodes, so most likely we’ll utilize one of the solutions out there (sia, filecoin).
All of these are meant to
- Benefit from the blockchain technology to the max without compromising the user experience
- Cut on the transaction costs
- Minimize the latency
- Became immune the ethereum network overload
Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?
I’m a bit of a night owl so I wake late – around 7:30 AM, take my daughter to the kindergarten then head to the office. If lucky I leave around 6PM every even day it’s bathing and putting kids to sleep. Odd days are for staying in shape so either I go running or biking – recently I found Zwift so I’m training in my basement. Before sleep, I like to read for an hour – mostly old-school fantasy.
Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.
I hate changing rules in the mid-way. I know in business there is a temptation to bend the reality – to cheat to put it straight. I love the decentralized ledger idea and the Smart Contracts. I imagine how it would be like if everything was so transparent – even the whole state’s administrations.
What’s something that you believed to be true for a long time until you found out that you were wrong, or if you don’t like that dichotomy of right versus wrong, what’s something significant that you really changed your mind about over time?
I thought you have to accept what life brings. Now I know changes are for good and I’m glad I took some brave decisions that brought me to the place I’m currently at.
Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?
Raise my kids to be good persons. Maybe finish a marathon at some time. Finally, learn Spanish.
That concludes our Interview with Marcin Welner
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