Chinese crypto start-up Bottos wants to 'break the data monopoly' held by tech giants

  • Cryptocurrency start-up Bottos makes an artificial intelligence-focused blockchain platform.
  • Its CEO said the firm wants to "break the data monopoly" currently held by tech giants like Amazon.
  • He expects crypto to see increased adoption despite a recent sell-off in the market.

Chinese cryptocurrency start-up Bottos wants to end the monopoly tech giants like Amazon and Facebook have on data, its founder and chief executive said Wednesday.

"We're trying to break the data monopoly situation currently," Xin Song told CNBC's Arjun Kharpal at the East Tech West conference held in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

Xin's company makes an artificial intelligence (AI)-focused blockchain platform, which provides digital marketplaces of data and models to help train AI programs and connect them with users, as well as networks for computing power and data storage.

The firm's boss explained that AI models can issue crypto tokens using the Bottos platform in exchange for data from entities using its data marketplace.

"Currently, almost all the big data are controlled by the industry giants, and for the small-to-medium companies it's very difficult for them to get the data," he said.

"But with blockchain technology… people can provide those data, and with the traceability and the transparency of the data usage in the future, people in the world and people in the blockchain community (will be) willing to contribute their individual data."

Blockchain — which can be thought of as a huge database stored across a distributed network of computers — is often touted by proponents as a technology that can keep data secure and unchanged. Blockchain platforms are secured through cryptography, assigning a unique alphanumeric code to each user, which is effectively treated as a digital signature for every transaction that make.

Crypto meltdown

The cryptocurrency market had a challenging week last week as investors sold their holdings in digital assets. Bitcoin, normally known for its volatile price swings, was relatively stable earlier this month before suddenly plunging below $6,000.

Markets have had a slight lift recently, with most cryptocurrencies trading in positive territory on Tuesday. However, bitcoin, XRP and ether — collectively the largest three — are still down 80 percent, 90 percent and 91 percent respectively since their all-time highs.

The total value of the crypto market as a whole has lost more than $700 billion since its January peak, according to CoinMarketCap data. But Xin was mostly unfazed by the rout in prices.

"I think with more and more people adopting bitcoin and other crypto tokens, then more and more usage will be adopted by people," he said.

Some governments — China's included — have taken a markedly harsher stance on cryptocurrencies. Beijing last year banned a controversial practice known as an initial coin offering, or ICO, where start-ups raise money by selling new digital tokens. The government also shuttered local bitcoin exchanges.

Speaking about his own company's business model, where firms are rewarded in cryptocurrency in exchange for data, Xin suggested Bottos could only grow more from here.

"I think more and more people would accept this way to be rewarded," he said.