Bivalve is a private online meeting space designed to meet the needs of the contemporary art market.
There is an emerging global digital infrastructure of disparate international regulatory standards, meaning that transnational collaboration is not going to turn out in the utopian way it was envisaged. One of the key events for international business of this decade will be the fight over online data jurisdictions. Our approach is to create a digital infrastructure where those are not our problems, an infrastructure we can design new things for and build on.
Bivalve offers a private online environment for gallerists, dealers and collectors to share privileged information and build relationships of trust, within a hard outer shell that shields their data from digital tracking and surveillance. Our goal is to blend the seemingly incompatible - confidentiality and conviviality, privacy and access, convenience and style.
Whilst the past few years have seen a proliferation of innovative digital exhibition and auction spaces, one crucial piece of art world geography has been left behind. This is the private back office, where gallerists and dealers meet with artists and patrons, whether to discuss a particular deal or to enjoy the informal chats which are the foundation of any successful professional relationship. The lack of such a space means that although it may be increasingly simple to buy and sell works of art online, it is extremely hard to build the bonds of familiarity and trust that sustain a healthy market.
Even before the pandemic, the art market was trending towards an increase in online sales, driven by the preferences of HNW millennials and an expanding global trade. The last twelve months have only accelerated this trajectory, and there is no reason to believe it will be reversed any time soon (Art Basel and UBS Report 2020; Artnet Fall 2020 Intelligence Report; Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2020). As a new generation of digitally native artists and patrons come into their own, it is inevitable that the future of art buying will be a blend of online and in-person interactions.
We are living through a transformation in how people value and understand privacy in digital spaces. Our best-in-class privacy standard is based on two simple principles: we don’t collect or store user data; we build and run our features in-house, minimising exposure to third-parties.
We have built all of the technology ourselves, developing a core stack around our privacy-first philosophy. Bivalve has the capacity to provide high-level systemic intelligence to users based on non-invasive analytics and collaborative, privacy-preserving technologies we have developed.
Our clients deal with international networks of collectors and galleries. The capacity to make links with different national markets or to conduct viewings and deals privately without travelling is vital to maintaining the UK’s position in the global art market. New anti-money laundering regulations that come into effect this year make this even more complex and increase the need for online privacy to securely conduct required document and provenance checks.
We have attracted investment from the Welsh government, Innovate UK and the Welsh Development Bank, and been shortlisted for the Wales Startup Awards for Fintech.
We developed the technology underlying Bivalve in response to digital privacy needs of the professional advice sector highlighted during the pandemic. The company Kuva was launched in January 2021. Over the past nine months, Kuva has developed a comprehensive privacy ecosystem and a high velocity team who train every day to keep up with the fast pace of online privacy.
Bivalve already has a range of users from the art sector – from a major cultural institution, a commercial gallery and an art consultant – who are working with us to adapt the interface styling and features for the creative sector.
Our plan is to expand from supplying private communications to offering systemic privacy solutions tailored to the needs of arts communities. This means offering visual interface customisation, secure integration with existing systems, a range of ancillary tools, the creation of custom applications and the provision of training and dedicated support at scale. We see ourselves working with major international art fairs, auction houses and the new online art platforms such as Artsy, as well as traditional galleries and dealers.
Being a CIC CreaTech One to Watch 2021 can benefit our business through the endorsement, promotion and introduction to new networks by people who share our values and want to make this new world happen.