Datum (DAT) ICO Review

Datum is developing a network for decentralized data transfers and storage. Users can Store structured data produced by online activity and monetize their data. Datum wants to change the big data industry by utilizing blockchain technology as a means of storage and data transfers, the produced data is encrypted from source and only the producer or owner has access to the private keys. Individuals can then monetize on the produced data by making it available for purchase.

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Examples of buyers are; institutional researchers, advertising companies, corporations looking for a target audience etc. By giving individuals the rights to their data, Datum wants to democratize and decentralize the big data market, making the middleman obsolete and giving individuals the choice whether they want to sell, share or destroy it.

The Datum network plans to provide services to individuals, corporations, entities and researchers.

Any party that is interested in data can purchase this directly from the individual that owns the private keys. Owners of the data can set their own terms and conditions on how it is used and the smart contracts on Datum’s network enforce these rules. Users can trace who accesses their data and have full transparency on what data is transmitted at any time. Datum is creating a commodity exchange powered by Ethereum, IPFS and BigchainDB where the commodity is data.

Datum has created the token named DAT which serves as fuel within the data network to enable trade between sellers and buyers and as a means to unlock privileges such as registering as a storage node operator and market participant. Datum commissions a fee of 10% in DAT tokens on every transaction made within the network. Furthermore, the token supply is fixed and any tokens used in privileges such as registration as a storage node or market participant are destroyed in the process thus the amount of DAT tokens in circulation decreases over time (deflation).

Storage nodes are decentralized computers that provide computing power and storage capacity to store the data decentralized. Storage nodes are incentivized to work and data is stored as long as it is paid for by either the consumer or owner of the data. Individuals running a storage node can’t access data as it is encrypted from source. Cost specifications are not supplied.

Datum features smart contracts within their network so users can make sure that buyers of the data live up to the terms and conditions set by the owner. Datum relies on purchasers of data to validate data and regulate fake data. Datum plans on implementing a trust ranking system for all users involved in trading on the network including storage node operators. However, there is no information on what happens when buyers find that data is invalid our outdated.

Datum sees possibilities in implementing algorithms, social media accounts, third party validators or identity verifiers such as Civic and Uport to improve on the data verification system. However, in the whitepaper these are regarded as optional and no definitive solution is provided. It is also not stated if data purchases can be made in bulk nor is there any market research provided whether buyers of user data are interested in buying data this way. In order to clarify the problem I contacted their customer support for answers. The customer support was friendly but could not answer any of the questions such as if data can bought in bulk whilst respecting the terms and conditions of each individual or what happens when buyers of data find certain information is false or otherwise outdated.

Datum is developing a mobile and desktop client and will include platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to allow users to monetize on this data. Additionally, they are striving to create compatible support for devices such as electric cars and IoT devices to enable individuals to unlock the value and monetize on the data produced from such devices. They will start out with an iOS and Android application.

Datum proudly compares itself with the app HealthKit from Apple, only decentralized. Apple’s app HealthKit compiles structured data from any app or wearable devices such as a step counter regarding to health as to benefit the user into a healthier lifestyle. Users can then track their overall health from fitness progress to blood pressure. Datum expects the same rapid adoption effect as HealthKit with the Datum network once it gains ‘’critical momentum’’ as stated in their whitepaper.

Datum expects to see such a high rate users joining the network that the collective of users can insist that data is stored and handled trough Datum network. However, this is purely speculative and no proof or confirmation of actual legal or global implementation once datum data management reaches such momentum are provided. It can therefore be regarded as highly experimental.

Datum has provided me with links to a prototype and demo, they are not operational as of yet and use of this is discouraged since it is highly unsecure, storing tokens on either the prototype or demo results in a loss of tokens. All information shown is fake as stated on the website.

Prototype Desktop Client note that this is still in development and and highly unsecure.

Demo for Android and iOS note that this still in development and highly unsecure.

Although Datum is actively developing their client and platform there seems to be indecisiveness on what to implement, the whitepaper is highly speculative and lacks detail on practical use and is mostly filled with ideals and options on what the project can be. Indecisiveness in relation to data verification and false ideals on global implementation by high user demand creating a ‘’decentralized data monopoly’’. There’s also no guarantee that buyers of false or outdated data can be refunded or compensated by the Datum network, no mentioning of this is made in the whitepaper.

When I asked the customer service about details on these problems within the Datum network there’s a lot of uncertainty on the possibilities, restrictions, respect and compliance with user set terms and conditions. No concrete answer could be given. The customer support said that they will reflect on the points made with their team and that they agree that these points should me made clear in the whitepaper.

Datum is on track regarding their roadmap. As stated in the roadmap an alpha version (the prototype and demo provided above) set for release in October is completed but not yet functional.

They will be continuing developing the test network which is scheduled for release in December.

Full implementation of the Datum network won’t happen until June 2018 if everything goes according to plan.

The team is based in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore. Founders Roger Haenni, Gebhard Scherrer and VC Tran appear to have a wide range of experience in entrepreneurship, big data systems, sales and marketing. There are two developers, both expected to graduate from Stanford university in 2019 in computer science. Additionally, they are accompanied by the advisor Daniel Saito who is experienced in sales and big data and has worked as a manager for MySQL in Asia. Further advisers are Chris Miess who helped TenX raise over $80 million in their token sale and Michael Egorov who holds a PhD in physics, was a founder of NuCypher and has worked as a senior software engineer at LinkedIn.

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