Interview: Private marketplaces for passing on sensitive data

In the coatings industry, confidentiality of information is often an important aspect. One approach to exchanging information with customers or partners can be protected marketplaces. We spoke to Dr. Holger Geissler, founder of ipOcean, about the service.

In the coatings industry

How is the protection of data on protected on-demand marketplaces ensured?

Holger Geissler: There are three levels which together ensure protection: Firstly, when the marketplace is created, visibility and access barriers can be determined. In addition, the entries in the marketplace are protected by the user’s digital fingerprint and optionally a virtual contract, such as a confidentiality agreement. This contract is signed before the sensitive information is transferred. The third level is the user identification. As with online banking, each user must identify himself on the platform via his mobile phone in order to be able to act. It is important that during the entire process the data does not have to be uploaded to ipOcean. The user has full control and competitors and bots have no access.

What problems do bots pose for companies?

Geissler: Bots carry out automated web scraping – that is, they read out all the content of a website and extract, copy, store, analyse and use all the content without paying for their own purposes and services. This can have business-damaging consequences for all companies that share data via their own websites. The data may be collected and processed by third parties and made available to competitors, for example.

What do users need to use a marketplace?

Dr Holger Geissler,

Founder ipOcean

Geissler: This is quick and easy. All you have to do is register on ipOcean and set up your block chain identity via your smartphone – this is done with the ipOcean app – the process is explained when you first log in. Then you can start right away to create your own marketplace and secure relevant information on the platform and then present it in a protected way to customers/interested parties. Of course, you can also search for solutions directly or start your own innovation challenges.

What are the possibilities of cooperation between users and their customers in a marketplace?

Geissler: There are open, private and closed market places. Open marketplaces have no access restrictions, which means that anyone can find the marketplace and join as a member. A private marketplace is similar to a club. Users can find the marketplace, but must knock, i.e. ask for access as a member, or be invited before they can see shared content within the group.

Closed marketplaces have the highest level of security and can be compared to a back room. The group is not visible to anyone – the owner or administrators of the marketplace must actively invite people to the marketplace so that it is displayed to the selected users.

It is recommended to set up several marketplaces with one main marketplace. The sub-marketplaces with an individual level of protection can then be divided according to the purpose (e.g. thematic, regional, business, …). Entries can then be created and published in the relevant marketplaces, i.e. in several marketplaces – in one’s own marketplaces and in the marketplaces of other users (e.g. exhibitions, innovation galleries, hackathons, …).

The entries in the marketplaces have a further level of protection: in the case of sensitive information, the files are only transferred to a fingerprint and not loaded onto the platform. Here you can optionally trigger the virtual contract process for each entry. Other users must request this sensitive information from the owner of the entry, who thus has full control over the process. The optional contract is then finalised in the background and signed before the sensitive information is transferred. During the transfer, the data cannot be read by ipOcean at any time.

In principle, all transactions are protected via the block chain, making them tamper-proof and verifiable, as they also receive a time stamp and a fingerprint of the parties involved via the block chain identity. The parties involved – and only these – can verify their transactions.

Are there restrictions on how many partners and users can share a marketplace?

Geissler: Basically, there are no limits to the range and use of the platform. However, whether and how many functions the user can use depends on the chosen membership. However, the freemium model means that the main functions can be started free of charge. The Premium Membership can be tested for one month and then a membership can be chosen according to individual needs.

Do business partners only need the link and the app to join a marketplace?

Geissler: That’s right, you can invite your employees, customers, partners, etc. to join the group/ marketplace via a link. If they then register on the platform, they can join the group and you can start working together in your marketplace.

Which documents can be integrated into the marketplace?

Geissler: Standard are often zip, pdf or office files, but there are no restrictions. You can use any kind of documents, such as video or audio. With a mobile phone, for example, you can take photos of the whiteboard of a Design Thinking Workshop and protect them directly.

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