The Internet we’re experiencing today is wildly different to how the World Wide Web looked ten years ago.
But how will the Internet look in another ten years?
You might have seen the term ‘Web3’ being thrown around on tech forums and discussion threads, but what is it? And how could this potential new form of the Internet benefit your life? We’re here to break it down.
So, what is Web3?The term ‘Web3’ was first coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, shortly after the cryptocurrency launched in 2014.
Many public figures like Wood have claimed that our current version of the Internet is heavily monopolised, where a small handful of global companies control the majority of content available online.
In this marketplace, users can create their own content across multiple platforms, but they do not own it, nor can they monetise it, as it’s owned by the platforms themselves.
In a nutshell, Web3 is a new, idealistic vision for the future where the World Wide Web is based around blockchain technology.
When we talk about blockchain, we’re talking about a decentralised public database where info is stored in chunks or ‘blocks’, rather than banks. Users can complete financial transactions. Information is stored electronically in a safe and secure manner, without the need for additional third parties.
The permissionless nature of blockchain has made it perfect for cryptocurrency - digital payment systems using encryption that don’t need banks or other financial institutions, like PayPal, to verify transactions.
The blockchain foundation of Web3 makes it ideal for sharing and utilising non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are unique cryptographic assets that are impossible to counterfeit and can range from real-world representations of artwork and properties, to collectibles like sports cards.
Because NFTs are recorded in a blockchain, they can be sold and transferred to other internet users.
By combining blockchain with cryptocurrencies and NFTs, Web3 ultimately takes the power out of corporations and gives it back to users. Packy McCormick, founder of Not Boring, defines his vision of Web3 as “the Internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens.”
How is Web3 different from the internet we're currently experiencing?
One of, if not, the biggest tenant of Web3 is the concept of decentralisation - moving everything away from having the majority of traffic controlled by a handful of companies. Ownership of content and sites goes directly to the users.
With a system based around permissionless blockchains, there’s no gatekeepers and no single entity restricting access or controlling participation. Everyone has the same level of access and power, and putting the power back into people, not entities.
Throughout the rise of Web2, companies like PayPal have created elaborate electronic payment systems that have occasionally been compromised, leading to sensitive personal data being leaked into the wrong hands.
With Web3, all payments and transactions will be done via crypto wallets. This means that you don’t have to go through several stages to make a simple payment, nor will you incur additional costs just for using the service.
All you need to do is set up your own personal wallet, and you’re ready to start sending and receiving money without any hurdles or unnecessary steps.
What does this mean for me?
In a Web3 world, all your personal data lives on the blockchain. The user-to-platform interactions of the new World Wide Web means that the users themselves own their own personal data, not big brands. The unchangeable nature of blockchain ensures your sensitive data is always protected and secured.
Here’s what an average day in the world of Web3 might look like for you.
Picture this - you’ve been spending hundreds of hours playing your new favourite game online. You’ve spent plenty of time and money earning skins and other cool features, but you’re starting to feel burnt out and done with the game.
In today’s internet landscape, the game developer and publisher own all downloadable content, meaning you cannot transfer your prizes to other people. But with Web3, you can sell and transfer your skins to other people’s accounts with ease.
Instead of having to enter in credit card details, you can set up a crypto wallet with eToro or Cointree in minutes. With a crypto wallet, you can buy, sell, hold and trade crypto currencies with other users.
Want to buy some shoes? Just pay with crypto instantly.
Say there’s a musician or band that you’ve been vibing with. Web3 breaks down the barriers between artists and their fanbase, allowing users to send crypto tokens to their favourite artists and support them directly.
In the afternoon, you do a bit of online shopping. Instead of using a third-party service, you can transfer crypto directly to the retailer. No extra fees, and no delays. Your payment comes through instantly.
Whether or not the big dreams of the future of Web3 will become a reality for us all is up in the air. Huge brands like Starbucks are already starting to jump on the Web3 bandwagon and revamp their rewards system for the new internet age.
However, one big hurdle that needs to be addressed for the widespread adoption of Web3 is education. For a lot of people, the idea of paying for everything with crypto is foreign. Ultimately, it’s up to big tech companies to educate their audiences about how Web3 will make many facets of their lives easier and seamless.
The ecosystem is still evolving, but we’ll be keeping a close eye to see how this may evolve over the coming years.