Earn from your data
The apps defining the movement to give you the choice to earn passive rewards for your digital footprint
There is no disputing that data is the lifeblood of the digital age. Data fuels big tech, and each subsequent technological advancement is more dependent on it. Our digital footprint is what collectively feeds the latest AI invention that is being flaunted on your news feed.
As we enter the age of intelligent machines, we can expect a burgeoning need for access to personal data, which will be used to continuously ‘upskill’ the AI algorithms that will make the business models of the future possible.
What if we, the people who create this data can share in its value creation? This is a founding principle for us at Unbanx, and I am glad to say that there are a number of other companies that also believe in this mission.
This emerging industry is enabling people to people to passively benefit from their data footprint, and it is only deserving that we have an ecosystem mapping of the various companies and projects out there. Not just to make lots of passive income, but to learn and benefit from the entire ecosystem as well!
As a starting point, I have mapped the table below:
I am hoping you, my fellow readers can help me populate this further and we can eventually make it into a prettier ecosystem diagram. Do note that I wasn’t able to access some of these apps because of geographical limitations, so correct me if I have captured some of this information incorrectly through my desk research.
Further caveat: the apps we are talking about here give people the ability to passively earn rewards for their digital footprint. Closely related survey apps, where people have to actively answer questions have not been included. Although, surveys are a complimentary feature that have been implemented in some of these apps including Unbanx.
Broadly speaking we have categorised the apps into the following groups of data:
Bank Transaction Data - As the name suggests this is where apps would reward consumers for linking their bank account to share their bank transaction data or purchase history. Unbanx and YouGov Finance do this via Open Banking. In the States where Open Banking isn’t fully implemented, apps such as Pogo use aggregation platforms such as Plaid to connect to the financial institutions.
Browsing Data - This is where a browser or browser extension (Swash, Gener8) or an app downloaded on a device (Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel, MobileXpression) records a person’s browsing history - what they search for, what sites they visit, duration spent on each site and so on. The Brave browser is slightly different here, in that it rewards users for their attention with its native token.
Location Data - Location data is simply the GPS data from a mobile device and will generally be fairly frequent to determine a person’s whereabouts throughout the day. Apps such as Miles and Tapestri do exactly this.
Other Services - this is a catch all group for data from popular technology platforms such Google, Amazon, Spotify, and Uber that amass a significant portion of our digital footprint. Apps such as Pogo, Gener8 and Caden have multiple sources of data for their users to earn rewards for and leverage these external sources of data.
Email Receipts - this is where an app would connect to a person’s email provider (e.g Gmail, Outlook) and look for emails related to online purchases, bookings or subscriptions, such as receipts and confirmations.
Health & Fitness Data - this is where apps like Sweatcoin, Evidation and Cashwalk track the number of steps you take but it can also include data such as other forms of activity, sleep, and heart rate data.
What benefits can people earn from their data?
Most of the apps here reward users points that can be used to redeem for gift cards or access various discounted deals and offers. Projects such as Swash and Brave reward users with their native token, a cryptocurrency. Invisibly rewards users for their data with access to publisher content that would usually require a subscription. Furthermore, direct cash withdrawal of points is a popular request amongst users, one I imagine we may see more of in the future.
How is it that consumers are rewarded?
Consumer data at scale is extremely valuable. For decades, businesses have been using such data to make better decisions. And, such intelligence can help set a company apart from its competitors. Now, big data and AI has given this ‘oil’ of the digital age more value and utility than ever before. These apps act as intermediaries connecting data buyers and brands with anonymised consumer data at scale and pass back value as rewards to the users.
What does the future hold?
Consumer awareness of the status-quo is changing. Gener8 caught the public’s attention on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den and has amassed a huge following. Collectively, these apps are growing significantly given the landscape was pretty much non-existent a few years ago.
Legislation such as the Data Governance Act and Digital Markets Act that are being implemented through the European Commission will increase the viability of distributing the value of personal data from large corporations to the people. Initiatives such as Open Digital that replicate and build on the success of Open Banking is where regulation should be heading.
The future is certainly looking encouraging, but there is plenty of work to do. This ecosystem has to work together for each other’s benefit to really drive the change that we all want to see.
Thanks for reading folks. As mentioned above, I am hoping to crowd source knowledge to improve and build this ecosystem further. So please get in touch if you have any feedback, comments, or would just like to have a chat: firstname.lastname@example.org