TransUnion Leads $30m Investment in Blockchain-Based Data Sharing Company Spring Labs

Readers have no doubt noticed that the pace of blockchain-based solutions entering the payment arena has grown significantly. Now TransUnion has hedged its blockchain bet with an investment in Spring Labs whose website indicates it enables Transparent Data Permissioning, Full Consumer Data Control, and Unlocking Previously Unavailable Information.

The Spring Labs website describes one operational solution on its platform.  There are four Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing providers using the platform to develop a national property lien registry for PACE financing. TransUnion isn’t part of the four providers identified and would clearly add weight to that offering should it participate.

A financing provider can query the registry in real-time to obtain PACE assessment information which enables the PACE consortium to proactively comply with recent laws and regulations regarding PACE assessment tracking:

“Specifically, Spring Labs is hoping to “revolutionize” the way consumer financial data is stored and shared among financial services institutions with a network foundation known as the Spring Protocol. The information exchange promises to preserve privacy, giving competitive parties the ability to “collaborate for the common good.”

Partnering with TransUnion will give Spring Labs the ability to leverage the company’s sales force (four versus 100) and access over 10,000 of its financial institution customers contractually, according to Jiwan.

“They see a lot of opportunities to leverage our technology,” he said. “They view it as something that can really unlock siloed data and bring new information that moves the needle on things like financial inclusion. We’re exploring standing up unique information sharing networks.”

He said there is also interest in how Spring Labs’ technology can be used to bridge the digital asset world and the regulated financial ecosystem.

As part of the funding, Steve Chaouki, president of U.S. Markets at TransUnion, is taking a seat on Spring Labs’ board. Brian Brooks, former head of the OCC and ex-Coinbase counsel, also recently joined the company as its first independent director.

Chaouki told TechCrunch that there were “many” reasons for working strategically with, and investing in, Spring Labs.

“The financial aspect is important but strategically, the amount of time we intend to spend working with them is even more of a valuable asset,” he said. “This is a pretty big move for us. We’re not a PE firm. If we’re making an investment, it’s to build something collaboratively with the partners who we’re investing in.”

Marko Ivanov, a TransUnion vice president, said the credit reporting giant was impressed with the “real-life applications” that Spring Labs has demonstrated.

“We want to collaborate to scale up their existing networks, and sign up more clients in the network, which is important to resolve those issues related to fraud,” he told TechCrunch. “We’re also really excited about collaborating with them to build new networks, and taking the protocol they’ve built so companies can share information anonymously or protect consumer privacy.”

TransUnion sees a number of use cases beyond fraud, namely “any kind of risk-related use case,” according to Ivanov.”

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group