Ocean Protocol: Building a data economy that’s good for society

Data monetization has been a hot topic in the tech industry for the past decade. Ocean Protocol is an open-source project that aims to return the control of data into the hands of those that create it.

Speaking to Cryptonites’ Alex Fazel at the Paris Blockchain Week, Ocean Protocol’s co-founder Bruce Pon reflected on his beginnings in TradFi and what led him to create Ocean. According to Pon, his aha moment came when he realized that Bitcoin was essentially an orchestration tool for transfers between users. And while it was mainly used for transferring money, Pon believed that it could be much more valuable if used to transfer data.

This realization led him to create Ocean, an open-source protocol that allows users and businesses to transfer and monetize data. His background at TradFi enabled him to realize the value of registries and databases early on, which turned out to be the perfect pair for the then-nascent blockchain technology.

“Blockchain isn’t just about the transfer of value and currency — but the transfer of intellectual property and data as well.”

His goal for Ocean Protocol was simple — orchestrate a business logic around a registry service that enables users to transfer and monetize the data in the registry.

One of the main benefits of Ocean Protocol is its ability to fit into any L1 blockchain on the market. Pon said that this flexibility enabled the protocol to grow and drastically increase its flexibility. Until 2017, Ocean was based on its proprietary network and built all the technology it used in-house. Building on Ethereum created a turning point for the protocol, Pon said, allowing it to make better tech with more value.

However, Ocean Protocol isn’t exclusive to Ethereum. Pon said the company was working on a core building block for an agnostic tech that can transfer and monetize data.

To achieve that, Ocean Protocol has set up an attractive bounty and reward incentive program aimed both at the users of the protocol and the developers and scientists building on it.

One of the solutions to encourage the adoption of the protocol are data bounties. Pon explained that the company’s Ocean Data Bounty program would enable its 250,000-strong community to submit ideas on how various datasets could be used. This includes presenting ideas on monetization and creating algorithms and analytics to understand the data better.

“The goal is to find the value of data in the appropriate context,” he said in the interview.

One way Ocean Protocol will finance these bounties is through a special allocation of its native token, OCEAN. Pon said that the company decided not to release the 51% of its supply it allocated to community incentives but use it for yield farming.

The yields generated on OCEAN tokens would then be used to fund these bounties and other data farming incentives. He explained that this doesn’t dilute the supply and subsidizes the activation of a data system without a cost.

This kind of data system, one that allows users to monetize it, is a data system that’s good for society, Pon said.

“Everything that you do generates data and is valuable to somebody.”

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