Swash, a blockchain startup that allows internet users to own and monetize their data, has raised $4 million in a round led by Outlier Ventures, Streamr, and KuCoin.
The funding, announced on Monday, will support the Swash data monetization browser extension as well as the development of a “Data Union” marketplace protocol. Later this year, Swash plans to release a suite of data science and developer tools, allowing developers and businesses to build on top of the platform.
Massive internet companies like to hoard the data we all generate, which has been dubbed the “crude oil” of the digital economy. Tools like the Swash browser extension, which has over 64,000 users, enable users to take control of their data and earn a passive income from it.
According to Swash chief marketing officer Chloe Diamond, user adoption for the browser has been faster than expected in recent months. “It means that our mission resonates with ordinary people. It only takes a few minutes, and once you’ve installed the browser application, it basically captures your data while you’re browsing the web,” Diamond explained in an interview.
Swash user data is then aggregated and sold in a Data Union to buyers ranging from advertising and brand awareness firms to hedge funds. Profits are divided among Data Union members. According to Diamond, a SWASH token will be introduced soon to handle these types of transactions, among other things, but for the time being, it is paid with Streamr DATA tokens, an early partner of Swash.
“Until we decided to do this ecosystem expansion, it didn’t make sense for us to have a SWASH token, but now it does,” Diamond explained. “Obviously, timing is dependent on factors such as launchpad exchanges, but it will happen this year.”
Swash has collaborated closely with Ocean Protocol, a decentralized data market infrastructure firm, as well as Streamr, particularly on the business-to-business and data science fronts.
“We see that the mission of Swash aligns very closely with Ocean,” said Ocean Protocol founder Bruce Pon, who is also an advisor to Swash. “It’s about getting people’s data in a way that has their consent and has conditions for how they feel comfortable sharing the data while providing an economic incentive for them to do so.”