Swash, a blockchain startup that allows internet users to own their data and earn money from it, raised $4 million in a funding round led by Outlier Ventures, Streamr and KuCoin.
The fundraising, announced Monday, will drive the Swash data monetization browser extension and help build out a “Data Union” marketplace protocol. Swash also plans to introduce a suite of data science and developer tools later this year, so developers and businesses can build on top of the platform.
Giant internet companies like to hoard the data we all produce, which has been called the crude oil of the digital economy. Tools like the Swash browser extension, which is currently being used by over 64,000 people, let users take control of their data and receive a passive income from it.
User adoption for the browser over the past several months has been faster than expected, according to Swash chief marketing officer Chloe Diamond. “It means our mission resonates with everyday people. It takes a couple of minutes and once you’ve installed the browser application it basically captures your data while you use the internet,” Diamond said in an interview.
Swash user data is then aggregated into a Data Union, where buyers – ranging from advertising and brand awareness firms to hedge funds – can purchase it. The profits are distributed to the Data Union members. A SWASH token will soon be introduced to handle these sorts of transactions, among other things, Diamond said, but for now it’s paid using Streamr DATA tokens, an early partner of Swash.
“Until deciding to do this ecosystem expansion, it didn’t make that much sense for us to have a SWASH token, whereas now it does,” Diamond said. “Obviously, timing depends on things like the launchpad exchanges, but it will be this year.”
As well as Streamr, Swash has been working closely with Ocean Protocol, the decentralized data market infrastructure firm, particularly on the business-to-business and data science side of things.
“We see that the mission of Swash aligns very closely with Ocean,” Ocean Protocol founder Bruce Pon (also an advisor to Swash) said in a statement. “It’s about getting people’s data in a way that has their consent and has the conditions of how they feel comfortable to share the data while providing an economic incentive for them to do so.”