Exclusive Interview

IOTA’s Co-Founder on Jaguar Partnership & the Future of Data

Dominik Schiener talks details about the crypto's newest automotive partnership and the network's plans.

The implementation of GDPR and incidents like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal have woken consumers up to the fact that their data is valuable and that they should be paid for producing and sharing it.

However, the infrastructure for user ownership of data doesn’t really exist yet. Companies seem to have just become aware of the fact that they should respect their users’ data privacy, and that they should be paying users. After all, they have been profiting off of their users’ data since the dawn of the internet.

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Recently, Finance Magnates spoke with Dominik Schiener, co-founder of the IOTA cryptocurrency network, about how distributed ledger technology can shift the data-ownership paradigm.

IOTA Recently Partnered with Jaguar Land Rover

We asked Schiener to explain some of the details of IOTA’s recent partnership with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), a UK-based automotive company.

“The vision of this is to really have the first smart wallet-integrated vehicle, and to enable new use cases such as selling and buying data,” he said.

“So if you think about the city, right–many streets are run down, there’s a lot of traffic congestion, and so on and so forth. By sharing data, we can make all of these systems and processes in the city run a lot smoother and much more efficiently.

“The reason that this is very exciting with JLR is that it’s all autonomous. Because the vehicle is able to automatically sell this data, there is not this huge entry barrier. Think about [how things go] today,” he continued. Even the most advanced systems for reporting road problems are somewhat laborious. ”If there is a pothole, you have to take a picture of it, you have to submit it. Not many people want to participate in this.”

“But now, because you’re driving around, you can actually earn money with that. And going beyond that – because it’s a smart wallet, we can enable new use cases, such as smart charging, parking, and toll stations that are automatically paid through this wallet. So it’s really about automating these processes around us.”

Schiener explained that the amounts of money that can be earned in exchange for selling data are still being decided. However, if the IOTA/JLR partnership comes to full fruition, it could set an important precedent for the future.

“The good thing is that JLR is committed to trialing this,” Schiener said. “Nobody has done this before–where you can sell data from your vehicle directly and get paid for selling this data, so we’ll have to see how it goes.”

Schiener did say that there has been a fair amount of interest in the project so far. ”There is a lot of interest from cities and from governments to get this data and [use it] to improve their city and the livelihood of their citizens.”

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If successfully implemented, data collected by the IOTA-enabled cars could share data in real time to improve things like traffic congestion. “That’s really the vision of this, really becoming this [self-sufficient] data economy that other cars and other vehicles really benefit from this data and can make smarter and faster decisions.”

Data Security on Distributed Networks

Of course, enabling vehicles (or any device) with data-collecting and sharing capabilities raises concern for data security. How will personal data be secured in these IOTA-enabled vehicles?

Schiener explained that hardware is an important part of this. Speaking about vehicles in a general sense, he explained that “the good thing is that cars have secure modules in them already today.”

If you don’t have a security module-equipped car, however, Schiener said that “what you can also [do] in the short term is utilize your smartphone. You can connect your smartphone to the vehicle, and through that, you can also start participating in selling and sharing this data.”

“But we’ve also said that blockchain is IoT and IoT is blockchain,” he continued. “Because blockchain really needs to have this hardware that enables the algorithm; the hardware acceleration and the data security, where you can store your data in a secure enclave. And I think that’s very important for the future.”

More Partnerships Are in the Works

“We have a lot of partnerships that we’re lining up for this year. Last week, we launched a partnership with the city of Austin,” he said. “But basically, what we are focusing on this year is to accelerate our partnerships with these big companies and actually work on testbeds.”

“So, for example, last year we [partnered] with seven cities and twenty companies where we announced that we have the smart city and smart energy testbeds,” he said, adding that doing the same this year with mobility. “Our big goal for this year is that we’re actually going to launch products on the IOTA Tangle.”

Schiener explained that some of the products will be automotive related, while others will be in supply chain and smart citizen data-sharing and data-security.”

“Companies are waking up [to the fact that] data is a real commodity, and that they can better convince customers to purchase their products by having something like data-sharing and data-selling.”

“The exciting part of the IOTA Foundation is simply how much we’ve matured,” he said. Just a year ago, “it was still a small project. We had about thirty employees, and we didn’t have the structure in place to properly execute [the Foundation’s goals.]”

“And so, I always say that the [market] crash was actually a good thing for us because it really helped us to re-focus on what actually matters. And what matters the most is not that the price goes up, but that you are able to deliver on your promises.

“So, we’ve been very focused on structuring our organization better. Now, we have about a hundred employees in twenty-three countries…and on the research side, we are now really committed to removing the Coordinator,” he said, referring to a part of the IOTA network that has caused some chatter around over-centralization.

“On the ecosystem side, we’re working on stronger partnerships. We’re definitely one of the strongest ecosystems when it comes to developer adoption and participation,” he continued.

“This ecosystem is really starting to pay off, with companies actually developing stuff on their own without needing us to hold their hands.”

“The JLR announcement is a good example. We didn’t help them with integration or development, we just gave them some guidance. They did everything on their own.”

However, the IOTA network is not quite enterprise-ready. Schiener said that reaching this point is one of the network’s main focuses for this and next year. “We want to be the first enterprise-ready permissionless ledger. And with our research efforts and our engineering efforts, I think we are on the right path to actually achieve that.”

“I think that we are shifting towards this–companies start to realize that this is a unique selling point for their products to say ‘hey, we let you own your data and you can actually sell it,’ and that they can better convince customers to purchase their products by having something like data-sharing and data-selling.”

This is an excerpt. To hear the rest of Finance Magnates’ interview with Dominik Schiener, co-founder of IOTA, click the Soundcloud or Youtube links. Finance Magnates originally interviewed Dominik Schiener in January 2018.


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