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3 Ways Blockchain Can Make Your Internet Experience Profitable

Source: iStock/tolgart
  • Sell your data
  • Sell your attention
  • Rent disk space

Every day, we interact with hundreds of websites, web applications, online services and mobile apps that have turned the internet into the world’s biggest money-making machine. However, the compensation we get does not balance the contribution we make to the value of the worldwide network.

This is something that can change with the rise of blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that ushered in the era of cryptocurrencies. Basically, blockchain obviates the need for centralized entities to run online services and replaces it with a very large number of stakeholders, all of which share in the ownership, costs and profits of the network. This prevents a single or small number of companies from wielding too much sway over the internet.

The blockchain alternative to Google and Facebook’s business model are platforms where you truly own your own data and control your experience. This is made possible by replacing centralized application and database servers with a distributed network of computers in which your data is stored and encrypted with keys that you exclusively own. This way, you get to choose which applications get to use your data and directly receive cryptocurrency rewards in exchange.

A number of blockchain startups are exploring this concept and have some interesting projects to share.

Selling your data

An example is Datum, a decentralized data marketplace supported by the blockchain. On Datum, every user has a store of data that is encrypted with a key they exclusively hold. The data isn’t stored on a server but is broken down to pieces and stored on a network of computers that share their storage space with the platform in exchange for DAT tokens, the platform’s cryptocurrency. Users can selectively choose to share their data that request access to it or sell it for DAT tokens. All payments are made peer-to-peer on the blockchain, which means there’s no need for a centralized authority to facilitate the transaction and take a commission fee.

“We aim to build the ‘Ebay for Data,’ a global data marketplace that allows individuals and companies alike to monetize their data sets,” Roger Haenni, co-Founder and CEO of Datum told Cryptonews.com. “For end users we are creating the Datum App, which allows individuals to connect a few data sources, like email, Healthkit etc., and start monetizing the data that is collected on them on a daily basis. Different levels of anonymity are available, which impact price and demand for data.”

The alpha version of the Datum app enables users to selectively sell their email data, something that providers such as Gmail and Yahoo are already doing without users’ consent.

According to Haenni, users could earn between 5 to 100 DAT (at current rate, approx. USD 0.23 to USD 4.6) for each promotional email their receive.

“For the companies buying these data deals this is a unique way to reach highly qualified customer and paying up to 6 USD per lead is not uncommon,” Haenni said.

Selling your attention

Brave, a blockchain-based browser created by Brendan Eich, the inventor of JavaScript, a programming language, and cofounder the Mozilla, a developer of the Firefox web browser, project, is targeting another shady part of the internet business: the attention economy.

Brave blocks all ads and trackers and lets users choose when they want to see ads. In return for opting to view ads, users receive a part of the Basic Attention Tokens (BATs) that advertisers have spent for their ads. The rest of the BATs goes to the publishers. BATs are paid on the blockchain through smart contracts, blockchain applications that automatically distribute the payments between the stakeholders. This model gives users part of the ad profits and removes the middlemen who shave off huge cuts from the revenue that should go to the publishers.

Renting disk space

Another way blockchain helps you profit from your internet experience is resource sharing through platforms such as Storj, a blockchain-based storage platform. Storj enables users to put up their free disk space for rent. Applications that need to store files and assets online can tap into the network and rent the disk space of the storage renters, whom it calls farmers, by paying them with STORJ tokens on the blockchain. Storj encrypts all data stored on its nodes in order to ensure the privacy and security. Storj’s model challenges large cloud providers such as Amazon and Google, and enables everyone to become a mini cloud provider.

For the moment, payouts for Storj are modest. Farmers earn an average of USD 2-3 per month for each terabyte of space they allocate to the network. But those earnings will gradually increase as demand for Storj space increases, and as other projects start building up on the decentralized storage network. The company already has ongoing partnerships with Microsoft, Heroku, Filezilla and others.

One of the projects being built on top of Storj is StreamSpace, a decentralized streaming service. By enabling peer-to-peer payments between users and content producers on the blockchain, StreamSpace removes the taxing fees and rules that services such as Amazon and Netflix impose on their platforms. Meanwhile, users can support the network by sharing their free disk space with the StreamSpace network to host its content. In exchange they earn StreamShare tokens, which they can spend to consume content on the platform.

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In centralized services, the service provider is the sole beneficiary of the network effect. In contrast, in blockchain economies, crypto-tokens rise in value as the number of users and interactions grow. And since tokens are distributed among users, content providers, developers, service providers, etc., everyone has a stake in helping grow the network and keep it functioning.

To be fair, none of these platforms alone are likely to generate too much revenue for the end user. But given the amount of time we spend online every day and the number of online services we interact with, these micropayments can one day become a source of veritable income for every user, especially if these projects gain the traction they need to challenge the supremacy of their centralized counterparts. This can be a glimpse of the future of the internet, where instead of a dominant few, every user has a stake and ownership in the network.

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