An update on Data Unions and first look at Rail: On-chain group payments for Web3

A first look at Rail: On-chain group payments for Web3


  • A new project called Rail has been formed– It builds on the payment distribution R&D from Data Unions.
  • Rail makes on-chain group payments possible for any projects that struggle with distributing tokens at scale.
  • The Data Union DAO has paused its fundraising efforts. The airdrop token promise from SIP-3 and SIP-10 carries over from UNION to RAIL.
  • There will be live Streamr ecosystem updates on May 25, and a dedicated AMA in June to share all the details.

Firstly, we have made the difficult decision to pause our fundraising initiative for the Data Union DAO. While we still firmly believe in the vision of Data Unions, the business case for a dedicated Data Union infrastructure provider has not been strong enough to attract venture capital to date. Data Unions will continue to be connected to Streamr and it remains to be one of the most interesting and impactful use cases that has emerged from our ecosystem, giving rise to Swash and DIMO.

Rail builds on the scalable token distribution standard from Data Unions but with an entirely different go-to-market strategy, going beyond the scope of Data Unions, into group payments.

What’s behind Data Unions and how does it relate to payments?

To recap, Data Unions are a way to crowdsource and monetize data, returning fair value back to the data providers. A Data Union could be built in many different ways, with different technologies, degrees of centralization, and so on. At Streamr, we offer a framework for Data Unions that focuses on real-time data, which scores high on decentralization, transparency and scalability.

When data from a Data Union is purchased, a fair percentage of the profits are sent back to all of the data providers in a trustless manner. To complete this reward circuit, specialized smart contracts were developed to automate the group payment to these data providers (Swash users for example). It is this payment circuit that we seek to extend to a wider set of use cases, including but not limited to Data Unions. For example, Rail has the potential to power blockchain loyalty point programs, x-to-earns, validator distributions and any scenario that involves one-to-many recurring payments to a large set of beneficiaries.

The Rail connection to Streamr

From day one, Streamr has been about unlocking new business models by bringing to market enabling technologies that make the impossible possible. Developing adjacent technologies to solve pressing problems in our ecosystem is somewhat a part of the process and in its own way has been a driving force of attraction for builders into our ecosystem. Perhaps that’s because these like minded builders are struggling to solve the same problems. Game recognizes game.

Just like Gnosis spun out Safe, MakerDAO with Chronicle and even Redstone and Warp– there are good reasons to step up and solve the problems that need to be solved in your own backyard. Between Streamr and Rail, the two projects will be solving for trustless live streaming data distribution and value distribution at scale– quite a powerful duo! There will be great onboarding synergy and synergies in the new use cases that get unlocked, that go beyond the early definitions of Data Unions and selling data.

SIP-3, SIP-10 the UNION drop and fundraising for Rail

When the Rail project releases a RAIL token, it will be distributed to DATA token holders, respecting the governance vote in SIP-3 and SIP-10, replacing Data Union DAO and UNION for Rail and the RAIL token.

Our mistake with the Data Union DAO was to be overly optimistic about a quick turnaround of fundraising and subsequent token drop. The timing for these outcomes was dependent on external factors and we should have been more thoughtful in communicating the practicalities of this endeavor. Rail faces these same challenges, in even more challenging market and regulatory conditions. Therefore, setting a timeline for this token giveback event is not yet possible. At the time of the token distribution event, the governance vote SIPs will be respected and executed to our fullest ability.

Next updates

We know there must be lots of questions on this new plan, and we will share the latest on Rail and the state of the Streamr ecosystem on May 25. We’ll also hold a dedicated Rail AMA in June. We know we have a patient and loyal community– one of the oldest and strongest in all of Web3, dating back to a time before it was called Web3. We hope you understand the commitment we have to keep working as hard as we can to bring forward decentralized infrastructure for the builders to unlock new business opportunities.

We’ll have a lot more to share about Rail in the coming months!

As always, please feel welcome to share your thoughts and feedback on the Streamr Discord server.

Stay up to date

Get the latest Streamr news and articles delivered to your inbox