Wibson is a startup that developed a blockchain-based consumer data marketplace. Today it announced it plans to run a trial with Telefónica. Wibson’s platform enables users to sell anonymous personal information to advertisers and businesses. In the test Telefónica will act as a notary, verifying subscriber information for customers of it’s Uruguay telecoms brand, Movistar.
Telefónica is an investor in Wibson through its Wayra investment arm. In 2018 the telecoms company funded the San Francisco company alongside DGG Capital and Kenetic Capital.
The team behind Wibson is from Grandata which applies “big data to social relationships and human behavior to identify market trends and predict customer actions,” according to its website. Its primary customers are telecoms and financial firms including Telefónica and Santander.
“Blockchain not only allows us to work with new business models related to personal data. It gives us the opportunity to add a trust layer to operations and design new disruptive services,” said Gonzalo Martin-Villa, Chief Innovation Officer of the Telefónica Group.
Wibson’s CEO and Co-founder Mat Travizano explained the thinking behind the platform. “One of Wibson’s primary aims is to provide consumers with an easy way to be rewarded for the personal data they create every day. The notary feature ensures that data in the Wibson marketplace is always authentic, recent, and high quality.”
Travizano continued: “This is a big improvement from the way that traditional marketplaces and aggregators handle personal data today. We want to create a transparent and fair environment where consumers and data buyers, such as marketers and advertisers, are all treated fairly and can fully benefit from the free flow of data in the economy.”
Potential buyers of data are technology platforms, advertisers, marketers, and academic and social-good researchers. The system is decentralized so that the blockchain doesn’t store private data. If a user agrees to sell data, the information is transferred directly between seller and buyer. Wibson acts as a facilitator.
A tricky question is whether consumers who aren’t short of cash will be willing to sell their information. Because purchasers will want data to cover a wide range of incomes, not just data slanted towards the less well off.
Earlier this week Telefónica invited startups to join its Open Innovation call to be supported and promoted in one the innovation hubs. The company is looking for startups across a wide array of technologies including blockchain. It’s part of its Open Future program.
The telecoms company is also involved in another innovation initiative, Start4big alongside SEAT, CaixaBank and others.