Killi, the startup that pays consumers for their data, is launching a UBI-inspired monthly payment to win more consumers

  • Killi, the startup that pays users for their data, is rolling out a recurring monthly payment to win more consumers.
  • This marks a strategic shift toward more passive data-sharing, which the startup hopes will prove more attractive for consumers.
  • Killi pays users to share location, shopping, browsing, and spending data. It sells that data, and splits the profits with users 50/50.
  • The startup is betting that the increased focus on consumer data control will be a tailwind for its consent-focused platform.
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Consumer data — from location tracking to browsing history to spending habits — is a $100 billion industry. And it's growing. 

But consumers don't benefit from the sale of their data. Killi, a consented data-sharing app, is looking to change that. 

"There is universal acceptance around this idea that consumers should have some sort of transparency, knowledge, and compensation around the use of their data," Neil Sweeney, CEO of Killi, told Business Insider. 

"When you juxtapose that against the data market or the ad market or the media market, the entire industry is driven by data, but  there is no consumer inclusion whatsoever."

Through its app, users consent to Killi tracking information like location. Killi then sells that data to merchants and other data companies, splitting the profits 50/50 with its users. Now, it's shifting its strategy away from paid surveys and active data sharing toward a more passive user experience.

The survey-based model wasn't easy to scale, Sweeney said. So to keep users on the platform, Killi is now offering guaranteed monthly payments for passively sharing their data. 

"It has to be passive, where the compensation is happening in the background and it doesn't require a lot of active participation from the consumer," Sweeney said. 

Killi was affiliated with Freckle IoT, a marketing data company that analyzes the effectiveness of advertisements on channels like mobile, TV, and social media in driving customers to a targeted physical location. In April, marketing analytics firm PlaceIQ acquired Freckle IoT, separating the company from Killi, which is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada.

The Killi Paycheck is an easier way for users to get paid for their data

Killi is calling this new monthly payment the Killi Paycheck. Depending on how much data they share, users can earn $1, $2, or $3 each month. Killi will still other ways to earn money for data, including surveys. Its data sharing modules include location, browsing data, and more recently, bank account transaction data. 

The Killi Paycheck was inspired by the idea of universal basic income, a policy supported by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Sweeney said. Whereas Killi used to call its payouts "dividends," it's looking to simplify its message to consumers with the idea of a paycheck.

"Every consumer knows what a paycheck is," Sweeney said. "If you have an active account inside of Killi where you decided to share data, you will get an automatic deposit into your account every week, guaranteed."

For Killi, getting more consumers to sign up for its platform is the priority. Killi needs a substantial amount of consumer data to lure data buyers. And while $1 per month isn't a game-changer, Sweeney says it's just the start.

"There are 350 million Americans, and every single person over the age of 16 is having their data sold at over $500 per month," Sweeney said. "We're trying to slowly but surely change that narrative to redistribute, dollar by dollar, more and more of that money back to the consumer."

Read more: The inside story of how startup Jumpshot, once valued at $173 million, came crashing down after reports that it was selling people's data

Privacy regulation could be a tailwind for Killi

Sweeney says that Killi's emphasis on consented data will prove attractive to data buyers, especially as data privacy becomes more top of mind. 

"When you're a consumer-facing brand, you do not want to get caught with your hand in the cookie jar selling non-compliant data," Sweeney said. 

Companies like T-Mobile and Verizon, for example, have faced regulatory scrutiny for selling location data. And data analytics firm Jumpshot was shut down after reports alleged it was selling consumer browsing data without consent.

"Every brand and every agency is required to buy more privacy-compliant data," Sweeney said. "That benefits us because it's a share game. That means more people should be buying our data."

And around the world, governments are passing laws intended to protect consumer privacy, especially online.

Read more: Enforcement of California's data privacy law kicks in today. Here's what companies need to know, according to compliance experts

Laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act and the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been enacted amid these growing consumer privacy concerns.

"Data is now no longer a marketing initiative, it's a legal initiative," Sweeney said. "It's not the Wild West where you can do whatever you want. There are repercussions for actually getting that wrong."

Killi users have the ability to turn data connections on and off, and they're notified when their data is purchased. And Sweeney says that Killi is well positioned to navigate the evolving regulations around consumer privacy and data control.

The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), for example, proposes that consumers should have the option to opt out of "cross-context behavioral advertising," defined as targeted advertising based on users' personal information that was collected through sources like websites, apps, and services.  

"We already have basically IP around kind of the most specific privacy regulation in the US," Sweeney said in reference to the CPRA. 

"With a lot of publishers and brands and others who have been looking to either add additional data or reinforce consent, or are worried about deprecation of some of those identifiers, they've outsourced consent to us," Sweeney said.

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