Blockchain powered Killi wants users to ‘own their identity,’ make money from brands

App wants to bring full transparency and consumer control to data collection on behalf of brands.

Blockchain powered Killi wants users to ‘own their identity,’ make money from brands |

It’s an idea that has been around for years: Consumers should control and explicitly sell their data for compensation. It’s implied in many data-collection systems today (e.g., “give us your email for 10 percent off”); however Killi is the first to set up a blockchain-based infrastructure to do this as an explicit solution for the market as a whole.

Others will soon follow. For example, another company called Occi is working on a similar blockchain-based loyalty solution for retailers.

Killi is the brainchild of Neil Sweeney, who founded a company called Freckle IoT. Originally a beacon company, Freckle evolved into an online-to-offline attribution provider that works with major brands. Killi is a consumer app available for iOS and Android.

One way to see Killi is as a next-generation data broker that puts consumers at the center of data collection. After they download the app, users are asked to enable persistent location. The setup process itself is a kind of consumer education about data collection.

In the near future, users will also be able to answer brand surveys for compensation. Surveys can be targeted by country, region, gender and age.

In the interest of full transparency, Killi users will be able to see the brands that have purchased their data and for how much. Right now, pricing is based on “market rates.” In the future, Sweeney says, it will become more dynamic.

Consumers are compensated via PayPal or Amazon after they reach a $5 threshold. Killi makes money by taking “a small transaction fee to write the contracts, pay for transactions on the blockchain and staff the team.” That transaction fee is 15 percent of what the brand pays for the consumer data. The user receives the remaining 85 percent.

Sweeney explains, “This isn’t about making $3 on your identity, it’s about regaining control.” He adds, “Consumers don’t understand the data ecosystem,” which is largely true. As mentioned, Killi’s signup flow and aggressive messaging go some distance to explaining all that:

Your personal data is accessed and sold thousands of times per day — making billions of dollars for giant corporations and zero for you.

This means YOU are their product. It’s time to take back control of your identity and redistribute its value back to its rightful owner — you.

Users are free to delete their data at any time.

One of the obvious challenges here is building a “two-sided marketplace.” And that will equally be true for any company that attempts something similar (e.g., Occi). Sweeney told me, however, that his existing company Freckle already has cultivated one side of that market. The company has been working with numerous retailers and CPG companies that he said were eager for a transparent, privacy-compliant solution like this.

Indeed, one of Killi’s objectives is to eliminate any ambiguity around consent. The company says it entirely eliminates third-party data from the equation and provides a “ first-party user base that is 100 percent verifiable, opted-in and GDPR compliant.”

While users may be prompted to confirm data or take surveys, most of the data collection happens in the background, so the consumer’s role is largely passive once signup is completed. In addition to blockchain, the major difference between Killi and seemingly similar survey or shopping apps is that Killi users all understand they’re trading their location information and data for compensation from brands — and they can see that clearly.

The data collected by Killi can later be exported by the brand to any DSP or DMP of choice:

The data collected through Killi is not purely user-generated, but verified via the standard Google and iOS app store process including location verification, mobile ID, mobile number and email address verification as well as Facebook account verification and drivers license barcode scanning. Once consumers’ data is purchased by a brand or agency, those marketers are able to export it at no cost into their internal first-party data management systems.

This is a fascinating convergence of two things happening in the market: the emergence of blockchain as a solution to various market problems and growth of user privacy concerns and related regulations.

Killi will have a consumer marketing challenge, of course. Like any app, it will need to be adopted at scale to make the system work. However, Sweeney says that in addition to conventional app marketing techniques, he believes the “take back control” message and mission of the app will inherently resonate with consumers.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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