The IOTA Foundation launched the Data Marketplace ( in the fourth quarter of 2017, as a Proof of Concept (PoC) and open innovation ecosystem. Over a year later, it is now time for the Data Marketplace (DMP) PoC to evolve with the help of the community to fully decentralize all features of the DMP and take its next step.

What are data marketplaces?

The growth of data marketplaces is an inevitable result of the IoT (Internet of Things) revolution, which changes the way we connect, interact, and exchange data in nearly every context imaginable. As physical assets such as ships, factories, vehicles, farms and buildings become digital, their digital “twins” gradually act as secure data exchanges. As datastreams surge across silos and carry value across organizations, traditional value chains morph into a web of value. This paradigm is complex to administer, forcing business to rethink their competitive play within ecosystems. Data marketplaces emerge as a means to exchange data, monetize data streams and provide the basis of new “smart” business models.

We refer to this new wave of value creation, for the Internet of Everything, as the “Economy of Things” or the machine-to-machine (M2M) economy. This opportunity landscape for society and business may sound futuristic to some, but it is the focus of a growing number of organizations across industries. Conscious of the massive opportunity and its transformative — and potentially disruptive — nature, we believe that the best approach for forward-leaning organizations and individuals is to explore these opportunities openly, together.

Objectives of the IOTA Data Marketplace PoC

To realize the potential of data marketplaces, we set out in 2017 to address several key challenges through the IOTA Data Marketplace initiative:

IOTA and its Data Marketplace initiative aimed to (and helped) address these challenges by:
1. Producing an initial, open source Proof of Concept
2. Exploring new IoT / M2M solutions and business models for the “Economy of Things”
3. Growing a co-creation ecosystem to foster permissionless innovation

At the same time, we invited (and continue to invite) participants to help shape the IOTA technology as a common standard that works for all.


Like its technology, the IOTA Foundation’s approach to enabling innovation is open and permissionless. The Data Marketplace is designed to enable an agile, experiment-driven and collective approach to innovation for its participants, but also for the IOTA Foundation itself. The Data Marketplace initiative challenges the IOTA technology with the requirements of real life deployments and the demands of the participants.


Since the start of the initiative, a number of proactive industry participants have gradually stepped up their engagement, providing our technical teams with valuable feedback, enabling us to accelerate the development of the IOTA stack to a production-ready stage.

A starting point to explore new solutions

The IOTA Tangle is a secure data communication protocol and zero-fee microtransaction system for the IoT/M2M. The IOTA Data Marketplace is a simplified platform, which simulates how a connected device running an IOTA script, can be paid rapidly for sharing secure data to a web browser. The initiative successfully delivered an IOTA “building block” which enables connected devices and APIs to sell and transfer data using testnet IOTA tokens — providing participants with a starting point to explore new solutions and to shape their own data marketplaces.

“Smart” business models and use cases

Data marketplaces are a means to create and capture value in an environment where sensors and connected device will trade data directly. For example, smart city sensors can now be paid for sharing valuable real time data. Physical assets equipped with a chip can now be leased, allowing “pay-per-use” models to shape the smart sharing economy. Our personal data could soon be accessed with our proactive consent via our digital twins or personal data management systems and allow radically new personalized and real time services.

IOTA develops a digital technology to enable these “smart” business models. Using the PoC as an initial trigger for business model thinking for participants, we organized co-creation workshops to catalyze this process. Non-incremental business models seldom emerge out of internal efforts. External viewpoint and capabilities are often required to provide viable ideas. In the case of cross silo data exchanges, new models can only take shape through ecosystem cooperation as prevailing value chains often need to be reshuffled. It takes a cooperative effort to transition to a new mutually beneficial relationships between stakeholders.

Our co-creation process focuses on bringing minimal viable ecosystems of partners around simple and tangible use cases. Building trust between partners and alignment around a common purpose is the key. IOTA is an enabler to this co-creation process and we’ve collected a few best practices for organizations interested in exploring IOTA’s Data Marketplace:

  • Secure a mandate from management, aimed at exploring emerging digital technologies and non incremental innovation
  • Secure necessary resources in time to ramp up your PoC towards a testbed pilot
  • Experiment in small but quick steps, start with a very simple PoC
  • Open innovation: be comfortable sharing your problem worth solving to find complementary partners sharing similar ambitions

Growing a co-creation ecosystem to foster permissionless innovation

Following webinars, workshops, events and many dialogues, a collaborative ecosystem began to take shape. This consists of corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organisations interested in exploring together the potential of the IOTA technology.

Theparticipantsin the PoC, numbering over 80 as of January 2019, came from many different sectors including Mobility, Energy, Agriculture, Real Estate, eHealth, Smart Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Financial Services, Semiconductors, IT integrators, Consulting, Universities and Industry clusters.

Several follow-up initiatives are now triggered. Some of which include:

  • Workshops & Webinars — webinars were organized on the Data Marketplace and the MAM module. Workshops were conducted in Oslo and Berlin on the topics of Trusted IoT, GDPR and personal data
  • Smart Energy — Positive CityxChange, a new EU Horizon 2020 project with 7 smart cities and more than 30 partners to develop positive energy districts
  • Hackathons — The IOTA Foundation participated in hackathons in Groningen and Paris where the Data Marketplace was used as a starting point for participants
  • Smart City Testbed — Initial work towards smart cities development is being triggered in Los Angeles at USC’s smart campus IoT Testbed, as a proxy for a smart city

What comes next?

We learned a lot through the initial PoC, and now we want to enable companies to experiment more rapidly. The PoC is now open sourced. In doing so, we are asking the community to help us to fully decentralize all features of the Data Marketplace. The centralized cloud backend consists today of the following components:  

  • User authentication (OAuth with Google account)
  • User management
  • Access rights management
  • Device management (create/read/delete)
  • Wallet management (wallet funding, tokens transfer)
  • Device stream purchase tracking
  • Error tracking and reporting

And, as such, we also have drafted a five-part blog series to provide more information about the updated Data Marketplace, including technical specifications and user guidelines. You can check it out here:

Shaping co-creation opportunities together

The IOTA Foundation is in active dialogue with its ecosystem of participants to define impactful activities aimed at expanding and catalyzing further corporate and community involvement towards PoCs, new business models and prototype solutions.

We welcome your feedback. If your organization shares the same ambition and is ready to invest in shaping the future with an ecosystem of partners in your industry or region, please let us know. Similarly, if your organization is interested in working together to apply for a public grant for data marketplace-related topics (eg, EU 2020 calls) we would be excited to get in touch.

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IOTA Foundation

Official posts from the IOTA Foundation, and migrated posts from old platforms.

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