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What: Block chain technology offers brands the opportunity to collect customer data and incentivize their behavior directly and transparently.
Why it matters: Customers can protect their personal data and monetize it, entering into a one-on-one relationship with brands through a technology called “smart contracts”. Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions.”

Block chain technology is poised to revolutionize how brands gather customers’ data and incentivize their behavior. The digital computer code that is best known for being used to create the crypto-currency known as “Bitcoin,” also allows for “smart contracts,” whereby two entities (i.e. a brand and a customer) can enter into agreements that are transparent, verifiable, secure and direct.

So what do “smart contracts” mean for brands?

Smart contracts backed by block chain technology have the potential to shatter the traditional paradigm whereby brands purchase customer data from third parties like Facebook, or loyalty programs that rely on consumer subscriptions but don’t provide a lot of purchasing behavior or product preferences information.

Enter Killi, a consumer application available on iOS or Android. Killi lets consumers sell their personal data directly to brands and receive compensation every time marketers choose to buy it.

Using block chain technology, Killi collects users’ locations and their purchasing data which is stored on the user’s device. Brands can then purchase the data with the permission of the app users.

A personal data locker is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. This allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent.

When users authorize brands to access their data, Killi stores the payment on the Killi app until users choose to redeem it.

“Killi acts as a personal data locker that is controlled by the user and secured by the block chain. Killi allows you to take back control of your personal data from those who are selling it today without your consent,” Killi tells consumers on its website.

The Killi website is a bit vague on how the technology actually works, but “the offering of being able to monetize your own personal info does sound intriguing,” said Jay Gumbiner, vice president for Latin America at IDC.

“We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.”

We could even imagine some consumers being worth much more than others based on their purchasing habits, socioeconomic placement, educational level, etc.

“In terms of using block chain for maintaining the integrity of that data and being able to easily track who has been able to access the information, it seems like blockchain could be a great use case for managing data such as this,” Gumbiner noted.

The Killi app relies on block chain technology to create what is known as a “smart contract” between the app users and brands.

Smart contracts allow users to enter into data sharing agreements with brands that are “securely stored on the block chain along with the detailed terms and conditions,” according to Yves Benchimol, CEO at the French startup Occi.

Thanks to these smart contracts and encryption via the block chain, consumers can “easily request an exhaustive list of all retailers/brands they have shared data with, and in which conditions, in compliance with GDPR,” Benchimol said.

Occi is working on its own products for retailers that use block chain and smart contract technology to reward customers while providing a rich set of data about their shopping behavior to brands.

Smart contracts with consumers provide a channel for consumers to share their information with brands, while providing brands new possibilities for influencing consumers’ behavior.

Brands can “create a campaign rewarding a shopper for visiting a store and define the amount they’re willing to reward a shopper along with a total budget, which will be locked in a smart contract,” Benchimol said.

Retailers have access to well-established sources of data on consumers’ preferences and behaviors from a wide range of sources, but new laws such as GDPR create barriers to using that data without consent.

Block chain and smart contract technology “bring forth a new way to solicit data sharing from shoppers, that is more transparent and fair because it directly rewards them,” Benchimol said.

What: Recently-retired Ronaldinho has launched a cryptocurrency, RSC, as part of a broad-based world football business.
Why it matters: RSC and the associated business is the largest-scale effort by a global soccer superstar in the crypto world, and could serve as a model for others to tap into the sport’s estimated 3.5 billion fans.

All-time international superstar Ronaldinho (@10Ronaldinhomay have retired from the pitch after more than two decades on some of the world’s best clubs and nearly 100 appearances and 33 goals for the Brazilian National Team, but he intends on keeping in the game on the business side, recently partnering with Malta-based World Soccer Coin (WSC) for a wide-ranging series of programs.

At the heart is the establishment of Ronaldinho Digital Stadiums, said to be in development in 300 locations, for implementation in the next three years, in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as the Ronaldinho SoccerCoin Project, or RSC. The cryptocurrency, set for pre-sale in August, will be the fulcrum of the business, which will include the Ronaldinho Super League, eSports, a betting forum, “Smile Project” to benefit children and secure payment system.

With soccer fandom worldwide—perhaps 3.5 billion, by some estimates … an international megastar like Ronaldinho is a good test case for sustainability, and could serve as model for others.

The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year isn’t the first soccer star to develop a cryptocurrency; according to Cryptovest.com, the JR10 Token, from Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez (@jamesdrodriguezof Columbia became available in June (selling out quickly, per media reports). But to use the block-chain technology as the basis of a significantly larger business is a first, at least on this scale. With soccer fandom worldwide—perhaps 3.5 billion, by some estimates—likely outpacing that of the four major U.S. sports combined, with interest in all corners of the globe, an international megastar like Ronaldinho is a good test case for sustainability, and could serve as model for others. (BeckhamBucks? MessiMoolah? RonalDinero?)

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For sure, Ronaldinho is making a run at the business world with the digital and retail service. E-Sports is growing exponentially, and the tide has certainly changed regarding gambling in the U.S., catching up to the rest of the world. But the clout can also be used to fund initiatives like Smile Project, the stated goals to operate a football academy and provide soccer equipment, better facilities and program opportunities to kids all over the world.

“I want to bring a smile to as many people as possible through this project,” writes Ronaldinho in a statement. “I wish as many people as possible will have a dream and hope and become happy. I wish to contribute to the world as much as I can during my short life.”

Reaction in the cryptocurrency world is guarded, with Greg Thomson (@gregthomson88of CryptoCoin.News, for example, noting that the confluence of soccer and crypto may succeed since “[b]oth industries are frantic and passionate and both have followers who see their venture as a matter of life and death,” while at the same time tweeting that he is hopeful it’s not just a PR venture. Some are rooting for the trend to continue, like Coinstaker.com’s Ian Karamanov, who writes, “We can only hope more famous athletes turn towards such initiatives.”

cover image courtesy WSC