The healthbank Cooperative: What is it and how does it benefit the user?

Corporate responsibility is something we cannot afford to ignore any longer. 66% of customers will pay more for a product that they consider to be sustainable, and employees working for a company with strong corporate social responsibility are up to 13% more motivated than their counterparts.

The cooperative business model is one that is proving effectiveness with consumers, employees and business owners alike. What started as a reaction to the tensions spurred on by the Industrial revolution in mid 19th Century Britain has now become the structure for a number of organisations spanning trade, agriculture, banking and insurance – and in healthbank’s case: digital health.

What is a cooperative?
In a cooperative, the business is owned by its members. The members can be both employees and customers. Rather than having shareholders or investors, a cooperative is accountable to its members. The members have a say in the running of the company and also enjoy a share of the profits. This means that key decisions are made by the people who will be most impacted by the outcome.

In Switzerland alone, there are now over 9,600 cooperatives. In addition to this, over half of the population is a member of either Coop or Migros. These two supermarket cooperatives control over 50% of the retail market in Switzerland. Not only has Switzerland embraced the historic principles of the cooperative, but the country has also become a breeding ground for cryptocurrency culture. This collision of old world business principles with modern day innovation might seem like an odd pairing, but the two ideas have a lot more in common than what separates them.

healthbank is one example of a cooperative. Its members are the people who invest in the platform and those that use it to store their health data. The primary benefit for members is that they are empowered to take control of their health data. It is owned by the people, controlled by the people, serving the people. The difference between a cooperative and a traditional business model is that the data gathered on the platform is owned by the individual. Many companies seek to gather and monetize the data they hold, but healthbank has no such intentions. Instead, the data is owned by the user, who is also free to monetise it if they wish.

How does a cooperative benefit the users?
The cooperative is a proven business model with success stories all over the world.
When it comes to the digital era and data management, a cooperative might set an interesting counterbalance to the big tech firms and data brokers that are already using and sharing people’s data – very often without their knowledge or consent. As we’ve seen with large companies like Facebook, managing data is a huge responsibility and the consequences of betraying the trust of your users can be catastrophic.

healthbank is changing the way the world views data. Data should never be owned by companies but instead should be in the hands of the user. When it comes to health data, there is so much potential for research and health care optimisations, but these opportunities will never be realised as long as individuals believe that large companies are profiting from their data.

By running healthbank as a cooperative, it is hoped that this will resolve any issues of mistrust around data management. While other companies might seek to monetise the user data, healthbank users retain ownership of their data.

By creating a company that that is owned by the people, controlled by the people and serving the people, it is hoped that healthbank will be able to change the conversation on data management for good.

How does healthbank’s cooperative benefit the user?
There are a two things where we believe that the user benefits directly from the cooperative business model.
Firstly, healthbank helps individuals to take control of their health data. With so much suspicion surrounding how data is managed, and occasionally mismanaged, it makes sense that patients would look for a way to keep their data safe. healthbank is built on a neutral, independent and safe data infrastructure. healthbank chose to operate as a cooperative as this is the best business model to match their goals of making health data management safe, trustworthy and empowering.

Additionally, healthbank cooperative is owned by its members who can directly influence the business’ strategy by having the right to vote. The cooperative model is highly democratic as one member has only one vote, which ensures that no capital driven investor can influence the direction of the business by himself but would rather have to convince the members of a meaningful direction.

The cooperative model is also growing in popularity with companies hoping to raise funds through ICOs and STOs. An ICO or initial coin offering is a way of fundraising in an unregulated environment by offering a cryptocurrency token which can then be retained or traded. ICOs perfectly reflect a “crowd-funding” initiative in a strong community that fits perfectly to a cooperative

An STO or security token offering is similar to an ICO, but is backed by tangible assets, such as equity, stock or even profits in the company, and is a way of fundraising in an often very well regulated environment. This model incentivises individuals to care about the success and future of the company. By blending the founding principles of the cooperative with the modern day aspects of an STO, we arrive at something that is decentralised and democratic. Individuals can earn membership by participating in the STO and purchasing tokens, which are linked to shares.

In order to become a member of the healthbank cooperative, individuals have to purchase a certain number of HBE tokens. These shares entitle them to financial equity and annual dividends.

To summarize this all: As an organisation that is dealing with highly personal data, trust is key to success. By operating as a cooperative, trust is inherently built into the core offering.

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