The Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that was presented last week and the non-profit organisation (NPO) Geens have drawn a lot of attention. Designed by Jaak Geens, a pan-European project initiator and technology innovator, in association with Linas Bukauskas, PhD, associate professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of Vilnius University, the system is geared toward those who prioritise protection of private data and are keen on investing into tokens.
With the help of the team from UAB Strategeens, the innovating duo is developing and improving the fledgling system that, according to dr. L. Bukauskas, not everyone has the courage to trust: ‘ICO projects are often perceived as a non-existent idea of a service. It is quite seldom that a coin offering involves an actual working product. Even though marketing stunts attract people to invest in projects like that, they have zero value and those who think ahead know that. What we are developing now – an ecosystem based on protection of private data, a token that with a member base and a future of a wide range of services in front of it – can become a real revolution in Lithuania and the whole of Europe alike. Companies from the Silicon Valley in the US normally develop disruptive technologies, and therefore it is a natural aim of every innovator to design innovation that would contribute to the disruptive technologies of the future. That is what we are doing in Vilnius.’
The services that dr. L. Bukauskas is referring to are based on ground-breaking IT innovations. These are the blockchain technology, the e-stamp and e-signature, methods of data mining, and the first Lithuanian token that works only within the Geens ecosystem. We have its developers to talk us through everything from the very beginning.
An alternative to e-signature and patents
Today, more and more people are referring to the blockchain technology as the biggest innovation since the advent of IT, however, as dr. L. Bukauskas puts it, it is a simple method to imprint blocks in time with the help of the Internet, and the future of every one of us may depend on how good we are at taking advantage of the blockchain functionality. This is particularly relevant if we keep in mind that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and national regulations spelling out end-user and consumer rights to data and their related obligations will enter into effect as of 25 May 2018.
‘Blockchain, a decentralised public transaction storage system, allows you to record every action on the Geens platform,’ says dr. L. Bukauskas. ‘Every action, a positive or a negative one, you perform in the ecosystem, will be marked with a signature that only you can see. With blockchain, this information is accessible to the public, but the actions will be encrypted so that only you will know what the code means.’
The system registers actions such as a file transfer, monetary transactions, or content or timestamps. Geens is unique in the way that it allows marking every file – a photograph, a document, a work of art, and so on – with a special content and timestamp. Once marked, the action will appear in the blockchain system, giving you the right of priority so that, should you come across an illegal copy of the file, you would be able to prove that you were the first to create and mark it,’ explains J. Geens.
Mindaugas Januška, Jaak Geens’s partner and the Geens project manager, says that this is a problem that is commonly faced by graphics designers. The ones who create various digital piece of works and allow them to be viewed by potential clients. Only later they discover illegal copies of their work: ‘Watermarking is not a solution here either. Therefore, the Geens mark will label the designer as the exclusive owner of the work.’
GEE token, the member currency
In addition to Geens designing an ecosystem for its members concerned with privacy, it will also have its own currency, the GEE token. The currency is pegged to Ether.
‘Today, people want to be in charge of their own data. They are tired of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others using their data in any way they want, making money from it into the bargain. What we offer to our members is to be the sellers of their own data, to have every right to the data, and to choose whom to sell the data to, and when,’ says dr. L. Bukauskas.
Since Geens is a non-profit organisation, all of its income from legally sold personal data will be distributed among the members within the platform.
In the words of dr. L Bukauskas, analytical companies will be able to approach Geens to buy user data for the purposes of data analysis. Granted permission, they will have to purchase a certain amount of GEE tokens, and the users will in turn give (or withhold) their consent to sell particular information without revealing their true identity. If the consent is given, a certain share of the tokens purchased by analytical companies will go back to the users’ accounts.
‘First, the tokens can be used in payment for the services offered by the platform,’ dr. L. Bukauskas explains how the new tokens work. ‘Then, with the membership growing, they can be used in exchange of the members’ personal services. For instance, if you and your doctor are both members of the platform, you can store your medical records where only you can access them, and use GEE tokens to pay for your examinations in the future. The doctor will be able to use the tokens within the platform or exchange them into other currencies when necessary.’
Looking for investors
NPO Geens has mandated UAB Strategeens, a company incorporated and operating in Lithuania, to implement a project of Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The revenues would be used to continue the research and the development of the components of the Geens ecosystem, achieve the objectives, and live up to the supporters’ expectations with usury. That is why the community is currently looking for investors willing not only to become members of Geens and protect their private data, but to derive direct benefit from it in the future as well.
In Lithuania, the project has the support from the Bank of Lithuania, the VU Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, the European Commission (EC) mission in Vilnius and its head, Arnoldas Pranckevičius. On a European level, Geens has also merited a tremendous interest through participation in conferences and all kinds of events, earning the praise from Herman Van Rompuy, the first EC President and former Belgian Prime Minister, and Herman Daems, an economist and professor with Leuven University in Brussels.