Designing a Blockchain-Based Data Market and Pricing Data to Optimize Data Trading and Welfare

Ingrid Bauer-Hänsel, Qianyu Liu, Claudio J. Tessone, and Gerhard Schwabe
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 28, Number 1, 2023, pp. 3-30.


While a wealth of potentially valuable data is generated and stored every year, many businesses suffer from inefficiencies, information asymmetries, and high storage costs, and lack knowledge on how to monetize their data assets. Blockchain is said to offer crucial building blocks to enable a verified, traceable exchange and trading with sensitive data goods and to address current challenges. While the technology’s potentials for decentralized data markets have been discussed, the question of how to realize it to optimize trading and welfare remains open. Applying design-science research methods and computational simulation to a real-world business-oriented blockchain project, this study proposes a market model. By adopting the consortium blockchain, we are thinking outside the confines of tokens tied to a blockchain when applying blockchain to the data trading market. Our marketplace is designed outside the speculative tokens space and can focus on the data trading marketplace. We evaluate the effects of different pricing functions on market welfare and trading in on-chain data goods. The results indicate that data trading and welfare can be maximized through a logarithmic pricing function. Further, in a market of heterogeneous agents, unexpectedly, we observe a tipping point in transaction fees above which market operations collapse. Monitoring the market’s consumer price elasticity helps us to avoid this collapse node, and we can also impact it by controlling transaction costs. Academics and practitioners can learn about the idiosyncrasies of blockchain in market design and operation.