Web 3.0, the so-called third generation of the internet, is arguably the most prevalent buzzword in technology at the moment. It’s a broad term, open to several interpretations, but it loosely defines a new era of the internet, one that is characterized by decentralized applications and services (more on that later), blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency. There are other related elements, including the concept of the metaverse, as well as more utopian idealism like an internet free from government control. Not everyone agrees on Web 3.0, nor if its impact will be as transformative as its proponents say. But there is a prevailing consensus that businesses must prepare in the same manner as they did for the rise of the world wide web in the 1990s (Web 1.0) and the mobile revolution of the 2000s and 2010s (Web 2.0).
A straightforward example of a business preparing for Web 3.0 is the incorporation of cryptocurrency payments. For instance, we might cite the launch of Metaspins online casino in India, which accepts 11 different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Tether (a popular stablecoin). While you might think brands like Metaspins are catering to a niche market only, it’s worth pointing out that the number of cryptocurrency holders around the world is growing at a furious rate. Some studies show that almost 30 million Indians hold crypto. In the United States, it is estimated that 49% of millennials own cryptocurrency. More tellingly, many studies show that these groups see use-cases for cryptocurrency in commerce. In short, they are not buying cryptocurrency as an investment, but as something that has transactional utility.
Crypto integration is less complicated than you might think
One of the intriguing things about setting up a business for crypto is that it sounds complicated, but it is fairly easy in practice. In fact, we’d argue that it is much easier than setting up merchant APIs with traditional methods like credit and debit cards, or even integrating PayPal. Cryptocurrency is always transacted peer to peer, from one wallet to another. So, in theory, it’s as easy as downloading an extension to your web browser. Of course, we would recommend getting expert advice (both technical and regulatory) before you start accepting crypto payments.
As mentioned, Web 3.0 is not defined by cryptocurrency alone, so there are other things to anticipate. For instance, Web 3.0 proponents believe that a new era of the internet can exist outside of the control of Big Tech. Partially, it is about control of data, as Web 3.0 is wrapped up in the idea of privacy. Despite their ubiquity and wide range of products, companies like Google and Meta (Facebook) are still heavily reliant on the use of our data for revenue through advertising. At one point, 99% of Facebook’s revenue came from advertising alone. Web 3.0 wants to fix that. For example, the first generation of privacy-first Web 3.0 internet browsers has now been launched, allowing users to control their data and even, in some cases, rewarding users with payments when they see adverts.
First line of Web 3.0 smartphones has arrived
But Web 3.0 is not stopping with browsers. Recently, we have seen the launch of Web 3.0 hardware. Most notably, Web 3.0 smartphones. These devices are equipped with crypto wallets as standard, but there is also room for so-called dApp stores. A dApp is a portmanteau of decentralized application, basically an app that exists on the blockchain. It is decentralized in that it runs on central servers (controlled largely by Big Tech), and they offer benefits in terms of security, transparency, and censorship resistance.
We should point out that there is a consensus that Web 3.0 remains firmly in its Wild West phase. If you have an app in the Apple App Store, it is not going to be outmuscled by a dApp alternative on a Solana Web 3.0 smartphone tomorrow, nor the next week. But businesses should be anticipating the rapid growth of dApps and other blockchain-based services. A good way to look at it is that Web 3.0 is still in the beta testing phase, or if you want a business term, the R&D phase. But with each passing day, we see more evidence of the foundations being laid for a movement that will impact every aspect of global enterprise. It’s not just about accepting crypto on your online marketplace; it is about understanding that there will be a shift in attitude towards how a business operates on the internet.
There remains a long road ahead. But many believe the endpoint will be a cashless society, one that is characterized by borderless transactions. Moreover, there will be a new era of decentralized activity on the internet, which puts individuals in complete control of their data and identity. This is a challenge for many businesses, but it is also an opportunity. There is an onus on many of us to learn about it now in order to get ahead of the competition. Technological changes tend to happen gradually, then suddenly. Right now, we are in the gradual period. But suddenly, those seismic changes could arrive.
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