Even though the data economy is a new landscape, it already suffers from several problems. For example, users lack control over their created data, and data monopolies control most rich data sources. Pool claims that Data Unions offer a straightforward solution to these problems.
Instead of camouflaging how user data is collected in applications and attempting to turn that into income streams, Data Unions are asking their members if they want to share their data. Via applications like mobile apps, browser plugins, or websites, Data Unions draw data of their members into a pool of sellable information. When data buyers purchase those data sets, the Data Union Operators and their members get paid.
Pool offers a platform and associated services for supporting Data Unions to scale, develop and monetize. More specifically, the Pool platform enables Data Union Operators to facilitate payments to members, scale membership, market their data streams to enterprise buyers, and generate new revenue streams through Pool’s platform services.
Its native token, $POOL, offers several use cases to the holders. The total supply of $POOL is finite and impacted by a deflationary tokenomics model.
Pool adheres to Gibraltar’s laws and regulations and has registered companies in the UK.
The project’s founding team has a solid technical and entrepreneurial background. Additionally, multiple investors are backing the project.
However, Pool has yet to release a functional product; therefore, it is far from realizing the planned goals at this stage.
Our researchers gave Pool a final rating of C. The breakdown of this rating is available at the end of this report.
PRODUCT & COMPANY DESCRIPTION
Introduction to Pool
Pool’s purpose is to redistribute power and value in the data economy by creating technological infrastructure to give control back to data creators, allowing them to be remunerated whenever they share information.
The project believes (ref. 1) that with its data marketplace and backed infrastructure, Data Unions can scale quickly, and data products from multiple organizations can be conveniently analyzed, queried, and licensed — benefitting data buyers and rewarding even more Data Union Operators and their members.
Mission: Bring Data Unions to the world and make sure that people are in control of their data and have a genuine stake in the digital economy (ref. 1).
The platform’s notable features include:
- Integration with Polygon.
- Primary payment token – $USDC.
- GDPR-compliant data.
Features and services of Pool. Source: Pool
The elements constituting Pool’s ecosystem are:
- Development incubator
The development incubator is at the center of the Pool’s ecosystem. From an organizational perspective, a dedicated developer relations liaison paired with an account manager will exist to guide all Data Unions via their stage in the cycle of business development from ideation through to the first data sale.
Pool is ready to advance a grants program for aiding the financial development of potential Data Union Operator applicants. The account team will also distribute essential Data Union Operator materials via Pool’s Resource Pool.
The development incubator also has sandbox tools for testing and prototyping Data Unions in their build phase, SDKs for mobile applications, DAO tooling to help Data Union Operators transition into Data Union DAOs, and other resources to aid best practices.
- POOL token
$POOL is an ERC-20 token that will be supported by dozens of Data Unions and their members. The participants can use it widely across the platform; it can be staked to activate revenue discounts for Data Union Operators, facilitate governance, or create an engaged community and maintain high standards on Pool’s data marketplace (ref. 2).
Interested readers can read more about the token in the whitepaper.
Besides its whitepaper, Pool has also published a technical whitepaper, a two-page explainer, and a guide to new EU data laws. The whitepaper is reasonably detailed, covering Pool’s offered services and revenue model, among other topics. The technical whitepaper includes various illustrations and provides additional technical details not covered in the whitepaper.
At the moment, no functional products have been released publicly. The roadmap published in the technical whitepaper indicates that the team planned to establish a minimum viable product between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022.
Based on our understanding, the project has several success factors. These factors are listed below:
- Serving an underrepresented market sector as there are few projects serving Data Unions.
- Large potential market as indicated by the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the big data analytics market.
- Experienced executive team.
- Financial backing by multiple investors.
MARKET CONDITIONS AND COMPETITION
The big data analytics market is predicted to grow from $239.75 billion in 2021 to $638.66 billion by 2028, at an estimated CAGR of 15.3% (ref. 3). As a subsection of the big data and business analytics market, the geospatial data analytics market is expected to grow by $80.74 billion during 2022-2026, growing at a CAGR of 16.43% during this period (ref. 4). The online ad spending market share is predicted to increase by $241.99 billion from 2021 to 2026, amounting to a CAGR of 10.98% (ref. 5).
Data Unions are a relatively new development in the Web3 space, and there are not many actors operating in this data economy landscape. For a historical context, Swash is considered the first Data Union (ref. 6) and was launched in 2019 (ref. 7). Streamr has been mentioned alongside Pool as a platform that supports Data Unions (ref. 8). However, it should be noted that Shiv Malik, the CEO of Pool, has worked as a Head of Growth for Streamr and co-created Streamr’s Data Unions framework (ref. 9). There are also projects like GeoDB (ref. 10), a decentralized big data ecosystem rewarding users for their generated geolocation data.
2022 Web3 Data Economy Landscape. Source: Titans of Data
The project’s code-base has not yet been released publicly. The project wants to target developers. One of its milestones is creating and implementing a developer outreach program.
Pool learns from current Data Union frameworks in the Web3 ecosystem and seeks to simplify the complex technology required for scaling to build a platform that offers five main product offerings. (ref. 1) These are the following:
- Basic messaging and payments infrastructure
It has been mentioned that Pool will utilize a Web 2.0 instance before a stable Web3 solution becomes a viable option. One possibility is libp2p, an open-source project developed by the IPFS community.
Data from the newly built Data Union framework will be offered on Pool’s data marketplace. This data can be subscribed to as a real-time stream, sold as a static file, and provide query-to-data needs as part of the federated analytics solution.
For payments distribution, every Data Union product will have a tailored, smart contract splitting payments from buyers on the marketplace between stakeholders. Due to low gas costs and scalability, the payments framework will operate on Polygon, with a bridge to the Ethereum Mainnet.
Pool also facilitates a broad range of smart contracting functionality for Data Union Operators. These include ensuring that member payments are fluid enough to reflect a greater set of incentives (for example, those who produce better quality data or more data get paid more). Additionally, early adopters of a Data Union could get additional incentives through a liquidity mining style program or a bonding curve.
Pool will also offer an essential solution for driving sales revenue growth: a fiat-to-crypto payment rail. At the moment, Data Unions must create their own payment rails for converting buyers’ fiat into crypto for members. This method is impractical and has limited revenue generation. Pool will form fiat-to-crypto solutions by creating a fiat bank account readable by an open banking widget. The widget will be used as an oracle for triggering payments from an escrow smart contract to each Data Union Operator’s dedicated smart contract.
Fiat to crypto process flow. Source: Technical Whitepaper
$USDC is the primary payment token for all Data Unions within the Pool ecosystem. This mechanism simplifies the experience for Data Union Operators and buyers and ensures that Pool alleviates the risk of token fluctuations. It is also beneficial for users as they get paid with an interoperable token, allowing a broader ecosystem of secondary payment uses to flourish.
The platform has a dedicated interface for showcasing and purchasing the raw data products that Data Union businesses in Pool’s ecosystem have to offer. All Pool marketplace’s data is GDPR, BLIPS (Business Logic, Process, and Security), and GoPES (Governance, Privacy, Ethics, Security) compliant.
Because of the size of the payments made (five/six figures USD for annual subscriptions) and the nature of data buying, mere self-service data products are unsuitable. However, as nearly all of this B2B sales work will be done by Data Union Operators themselves, there is no expectation for this to be a significant cost burden to Pool. Instead, Pool will run traffic from the multibillion-dollar competitive intelligence and data analytics economy to the marketplace to increase buyer conversion rates for Data Union Operators.
Later versions of the marketplace will offer tools using the benefits of the real-time stream to enable data buyers to:
- Build tailored interfaces modified to serve the needs of specific data buyers.
- Mix, match, and combine data streams with needs and proposed prices shared in real-time with Data Union Operators.
- Use a message board where data buyers can post requests for data products.
- Set up custom-made integrations with existing software for real-time data streams.
Rather than having a single view of the marketplace for both Data Union Operators and buyers, Pool’s Buyer’s Lounge acts as a custom frontend or “data showroom” for data buyers.
The buyers’ showroom provides numerous features:
- Messaging for aiding communication and product ideation between data buyers and Data Union Operators.
- Product samples from Data Union Operators.
- Capability to search products (including by map).
- Tutorials and videos targeted explicitly at data buyers.
There will be query-to-data analytics for businesses wanting to diminish the deployment of data science assets. More features will be added to the data showroom when it becomes available, including:
- Tutorials for writing data queries.
- Query builder tool.
- Data query templates.
Marketplace architecture overview. Source: Technical Whitepaper
- Query-to-data analytics engine
Using its position as an enabler and collator of many different data sets, Pool makes the first query-to-data engine to enable analytics to be executed on data sets from various Data Unions. When scaled, the project claims this will turn out to be “Google for Business: a simple but powerful analytical front end which can answer any analytical question a business might have.”
The revenue model of this engine is cooperative: each time a query is answered, Data Union Operators and their members will be paid. Pool’s standard rate of commission will apply. As it serves a much larger market than the raw data market, the project forecasts that revenues from this engine will grow from $50K in year two to $20 million in year four and to $1 billion by year eight.
- Unitary Wallet
Unitary Wallet will help users discover various revenue streams for their data. It will also act as a single dashboard for users’ Data Union memberships and payments. New Data Unions are ‘advertised’ within the interface, which means they are likely to be able to scale and grow much faster.
The project forecasts that something might happen once millions of Data Union members have wallets holding a widely accepted ERC-20 token, such as $USDC, and are already pre-plugged into an Ethereum-compatible sidechain suitable for scalable micropayments, for instance, Polygon. Web 2.0 businesses like media content providers struggling with existing revenue models will want to accept new payment forms from this conveniently integrated system.
Summarily, it will be possible for Data Union members with Unitary Wallet to pay for services such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or the Financial Times on a per-article basis with a single click, without needing to create an account and subscribe. Because growing the utility and interoperability of the wallet would encourage general adoption of Data Union membership, thereby driving revenue to Pool, this would not be a chargeable service.
Data Union user wallet use cases. Source: Technical Whitepaper
- Personal Data Vault
The project claims that one of the most underused technological creations in the data economy is the personal data vault: a store for personal data that users control and own.
A Personal Data Vault acts as a solution for sovereign identity. It is a means for credit checkers, advertisers, and other service providers to run queries on an individual’s digital instead of a group of people and sell them tailored services.
The lack of incentive has stifled the adoption of Personal Data Vaults to download such tools, but the Data Union model is purportedly solving this. As members are already motivated to join Data Unions, latching on to a Personal Data Vault storing every stream of a member’s pre-structured data from a Data Union has almost zero marginal cost. This applies to deployment costs to the technology provider (Pool + Data Union Operators) and to costs to the prospective Data Union member in terms of their convenience and time as well.
These Personal Data Vaults will utilize the same key management as a member’s Data Union wallet and use Web3 decentralized storage systems. Additionally, under Pool’s Personal Data Vault system, if members opt into advertising, their Personal Data Vault will be able to be queried in a Zero-Knowledge fashion. If members subsequently purchased products, the Data Union Operators and membership would share (for example, a 10-40% cut) from the successful sale.
Given the US and EU B2C retail sales market, the project expects the revenue from Personal Data Vaults to start at $5 million in year three, rising to $600 million in year six and then $1.4 billion in year eight.
Pool’s payments framework will run on Polygon, with a bridge to Ethereum mainnet.
The project is very early in its development cycle; hence, no audit is available.
Readers can find several roadmaps across the project documentation. The website lists a product roadmap covering 2021 to 2024, while the whitepaper has a product roadmap with three milestones. The Technical Whitepaper includes a release planning roadmap covering the period from Q2 2021 to Q1 2024. The website’s and technical paper’s roadmaps are consistent with each other. The whitepaper’s roadmap is more granular, providing additional details not included in the other two.
Product Roadmap. Source: Pool
The project’s core team is skilled in telecommunications, software engineering, and investigative journalism. Some of the team members’ previous accomplishments include receiving a broadcasting award and being a consulting director for Huawei.
Shiv Malik (ref. 11), the CEO, is the author of two books, Co-Founder of the Intergenerational Foundation think tank, an award-nominated broadcaster, and a former investigative journalist for The Guardian. After three years advising the Web3 projects, Golem and Streamr, and co-creating a revolutionary framework for monetizing personal data, Shiv co-founded Pool in 2021.
John Hauxwell (ref. 12), CTO, is a serial innovator with thirty years of experience in telecommunications working with Global 500 companies. John is also a former Consulting Director for Huawei.
Jalil Farid (ref. 13), Head of Development, is a technologist who has shipped software, organized teams, and developed data-rich products with users at the center of development. Jalil’s previous experience as a software engineer spans various areas in bioinformatics, data science, and AI.
Gilbert Hill (ref. 14), Chief Strategy Officer, is a privacy technologist, entrepreneur, and speaker. Previously CEO at Tapmydata, a VC-funded Web3 startup building wallets for data control and portability, Gilbert advises brands, boards, and crypto projects on data strategy and execution as a Non-Executive Director. He is a Founding Member of the Data Privacy Protocol Alliance.
The project has disclosed a ten-member advisory panel. Some prominent members are:
Rachel Aldighieri (ref. 15), Managing Director, Data & Marketing Association.
Alex Craven (ref. 16), Co-Founder of Data City and serial entrepreneur.
Rhian Lewis (ref. 17), Cryptocurrency and blockchain consultant.
Lawrence Lundy-Bryan (ref. 18), Research partner at Lunar Ventures, former Outlier Ventures.
General Comments on the Team & Advisors
The project is currently hiring for the role of a senior backend software engineer (ref. 19). Overall, the team members have a strong technical and entrepreneurial background.
During our review period, we did not find evidence that the team members have taken part in any previous or current illegal projects or projects that were controversial.
LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE SPECIFICS
Pool Data Limited, company number 13412797, is registered in the UK (ref. 20). Pool Data Payment Limited is another registered company under the number 13777966 in the UK (ref. 21).
Pool Data (Gibraltar) Limited is incorporated in Gibraltar (ref. 22) and is permitted under the Proceeds of Crime Act Regulations to “receive, whether on their own account or on behalf of another person, proceeds in any form from the sale of tokenised digital assets involving the use of DLT or a similar means of recording a digital representation of an asset.” Therefore, Pool complies with the requirements under applicable regulations, including Gibraltar’s laws and regulations concerning the token offering.
There is also a reference to Pool Foundation Limited. However, further details about this entity were not available.
It has been claimed that the government has approached the developing cryptocurrency and blockchain sector in Gibraltar with a receptive and progressive attitude. As far back as 2014, its Cryptocurrency Working Group was already established.
In the United Kingdom, policy thinking regarding cryptocurrencies is actively developing. Even though financial regulators have given warnings relating to investments in crypto assets (ref. 23) (ref. 24), they do not fall under a blanket prohibition or ban in the UK (ref. 25).
Pool utilized several technology solutions provided by various actors such as Amazon, Starburst, Ceramic, Metamask, Blocknative, and Inrupt/Solid. Readers can find more details about these technology solutions in the technical whitepaper.
The project has also raised $3.7 million in an oversubscribed seed round by securing SAFT investment from Venture Capital investors in the Web3 space.
Some of the investors backing Pool. Source: Pool
The project has not appointed legal advisors or team members responsible for legal matters.
KYC & AML
No token-related KYC & AML procedures are available since the public sale has not yet been announced. It has been mentioned that Pool Marketplace v2 will have a full whitelisting and KYC process for buyers. The project’s website has a Privacy and Cookies Policy detailing its data policy.
$POOL is a utility token with the following use cases:
- Staking by Data Union Operators.
- Discounting (ref. 2).
Pool is yet to conduct a token sale with a public fundraising round. The total supply of POOL tokens is 100 million (ref. 2).
Token Distribution. Source: Pool
The project has allocated 30% and 30.5% of the tokens for the Foundation and private investors, respectively.
The team has not released information concerning the vesting period of their tokens.
The project raised funds from several investors. However, further details relating to private funding rounds have not been released to the public.
The POOL token supply is finite and is affected by a deflationary tokenomics model.
The funds raised in a future public round will be used to continue the development of Pool’s data marketplace, data wallet, and payment rails so Pool can continue to invest in and scale the first dozen Data Unions to drive the growth of its new data ecosystem (ref. 2).
In the tokenomics design, the project team proposes a token burn mechanism. The backend smart contract will automatically burn POOL tokens whenever buyer payments happen on the Pool Marketplace (ref. 2).
The team has not disclosed what will happen to any POOL tokens left unsold at the public sale stage.
Supply and Demand Dynamics
- Token unlock and vesting: The POOL token distribution is significantly skewed toward large holder categories (Pool Foundation), Team and the Board, Advisors). Although token lockup or vesting details are not public, these significant holdings could exert pressure on token price when released into the circulating supply.
- Staking: Data Union Operators can stake POOL tokens to get discounts on the platform charge fee (5%) (ref. 2).
- Utility: $POOL has several utilities in the ecosystem of Pool. For example, POOL tokens can be staked and used for governance purposes.
- Deflationary model: The deflationary tokenomics model is set up in such a way that it ensures scarcity over time. The project claims that the more utility there will be for POOL tokens, the rarer they will become, with 50% of POOL tokens remaining at the end.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND VIRALITY
The project’s Twitter account is active, having 7.3k followers (ref. 26).
Pool is not present on Discord and Telegram.
Pool is posting actively on LinkedIn, where it has 578 followers at the moment (ref. 27). The project has no presence on Facebook.
The project does not have a YouTube channel, and there are no reviews about it.
RISKS TO THE PROJECT
The following list of risks is not an exhaustive one. Some of these risks are internal, and others are external to the organization. Some risks may be minor/not materialize.
- Third-party risks: The payments network of Pool relies on Polygon, and therefore, any issues or bottlenecks on Polygon can cause problems to Pool’s users. Additionally, certain parts of the Pool infrastructure will be centralized (ref. 28), thus any risks involving centralized solutions can negatively affect the project, e.g., $USDC is a centralized custodial stablecoin.
- Regulatory/Legal Risks: The occurrence of regulatory inquiries or regulatory actions could restrict or limit the project’s progress. Moreover, evolving or new laws and regulations in certain jurisdictions may negatively affect the project. The project’s ability to comply or not comply with these new laws or regulations could have financial or reputational risks involved.
- The volatility of digital assets: In general, volatility in the values of digital assets can be significant, and indirectly, a decrease in the value of digital assets could have a material and adverse effect on Pool.
- Lack of adoption/interest: The project needs demand from Data Unions. Slower growth of Data Unions or lack of demand by them may hinder the progress of Pool.
Everything you see in this report is the aggregate result of an extensive research process carried out by a distributed team of researchers and crypto enthusiasts around the world. The process consists of 60 questions divided into three phases. Researchers are called to answer these questions about a project, while providing links or screenshots as evidence to support their answers. For every answer, they also provide a rating from zero to ten. The average of their ratings is detailed below.
Our researchers gave Pool a final rating of C.
This Report is for informational purposes only and/or all or any of its content thereof, should not, may not and will not be taken to constitute, either as a whole or in part, any investment advice or recommendation or similar, regulated, or authorized advice, and D-Core by producing, disseminating, giving away, or making available this Report does not, should not, may not and will not be taken to advise on investments, or carry out any similar activity, or any regulated activity or any other authorized activity. D-Core is not authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority or by any other competent EU or elsewhere or otherwise competent authority to carry out any regulated activities and/or any activities within the scope of these authorities’ competence.
D-Core excludes and disclaims all liability and/or responsibility whatsoever and/or howsoever caused, arising out of any actions, or omissions taken, or made by any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report in reliance on, or arising out of, or in connection with any or all content of this Report. Any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report acknowledges, accepts and agrees that they carry out their own independent research and act in their own sole risk in reading or using any or all information contained in this Report. In any event, recipients of this Report are urged to seek professional advice before making any potential investment decision in relation to the project described herein. Any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report accepts this Disclaimer in full. For the avoidance of doubt, this Disclaimer is binding against any recipient of this Report whatsoever.
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