Dataswift – a Cambridge-based company that enables individuals to own and use their own data – has announced it has raised £1.6 million in seed funding. The round was led by IQ Capital, with participation from Pacific & Orient Properties Ltd and Alphanumeric Corporation.
Dataswift’s platform enables consumers to interact with companies’ apps and websites using their “personal data account,” storing all the sensitive personal information that would otherwise have to sit on the company’s own servers. Individuals can decide what personal data they want their ‘HAT’ account to hold, and are able to deal directly with apps and websites, removing their dependency on third parties brokering their personal information fairly and safely.
Individual HAT personal data accounts improve market access to ethical and consentful user information, streamlining the production of apps and websites, and reduce the overall incentive for cybercrime. Consumers have never been able to ‘speak’ data – they have always had to rely on companies to store and share their personal information for them. Those companies in turn have always had to rely on the stale, out-of-date user information sitting in their corporate user accounts – information which is increasingly difficult to keep compliant with new regulations. With Dataswift’s HAT microserver, users can easily source their own information with a few clicks, which can then be used appropriately with different websites and applications upon request.
There are pervasive and societal issues of ethics, transparency, and user control in personal data today. When these are resolved, personal data in the online economy will power numerous advances in healthcare, finance, communications, commerce, and artificial intelligence. But for these advances to materialise, users need to maintain some form of control and legal rights over the use of their data.
Dataswift’s new funds will allow the team to roll out the new personal data infrastructure globally and will empower apps and websites to upgrade their company-held user accounts to HAT personal data accounts. Beyond expanding into new markets, the funding will also enable Dataswift to continue to invest in its technology, working with the ecosystem of 10 universities and 30 independent partners that have been implementing its approach to personal data technology for the last six years.
Commenting on their first institutional financing, Professor Irene Ng, CEO of Dataswift and Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at the University of Warwick said: “Personal data account technology should be an essential part of a developer’s tool kit, as they build ethical, useful, and data-rich websites and applications. This investment comes at a critical time, as tech companies battle privacy concerns with their collection and usage of personal data.”
Daniel Carew, Principal at IQ Capital said: “We are excited to be a part of Dataswift’s mission to revolutionise the management of personal data and we believe they are laying the groundwork for a whole new generation of personal computing applications. Dataswift’s approach elegantly addresses one of the fundamental issues with the architecture of the Internet today, and we are glad to support their global rollout.”