Web3: financial investment in the name of Internet decentralization
The designers of Web3 want to use the blockchain to give Internet users back control of their data by offering a decentralized version of the Internet.
We may soon be entering the era of Web3, a concept that brings together technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Proponents of Web3 present it as the next stage in the evolution of the Internet. The Web 1.0 of the 1990s, based on static web pages connected by hypertext links, was succeeded in the mid-2000s by the more interactive Web 2.0, with the sharing of texts, photos and videos by Internet users on blogs and networks. social. As a result, the Internet giants (GAFAM) have created centralized and opaque platforms that allow them to collect and monetize a huge volume of personal data. Often operating without the knowledge of the individuals concerned, this exploitation has the potential to endanger democracies, as illustrated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Gavin Wood, a British computer scientist who co-founded the Ethereum cryptocurrency, coined the term Web3 in 2014 for a decentralized web in which people have regained control of their data. The creation of Web3 could be considered as a means of repairing the excesses of Web 2.0.
Will Internet users regain power?
Web3 uses blockchain technology and philosophy, a decentralized and tamper-proof register in which all transactions between users are recorded. Having already enabled the development of crypto-currencies, the blockchain could serve as the basis for this new web governance.
In the era of Web3, platforms would no longer be the property of for-profit companies, sometimes acting against the general interest, but of communities of users. The latter would be responsible for their functioning and their development in complete transparency, since their actions would be recorded. A user would earn more crypto tokens the more they contributed to the platform, giving them increased decision-making power (resulting in other issues).
“The platforms and applications built on Web3 will not be owned by a central stakeholder, but rather by users, who will earn their stake by helping to develop and maintain these services,” Gavin Wood suggested in an interview with Wired. November 2021. computer scientist created the Web3 Foundation, which aims to finance the R&D teams that will build this new version of the web. Among the first projects supported are Polkadot, an open source protocol that allows transfers between blockchains, and Kusama, a network of specialized “parachains” (chains parallel to a blockchain).
CEO of the start-up Archipels, Hervé Bonazzi proposed several possible evolutions of Web3 in a post on LinkedIn. After crypto-currencies and NFTs, the future web could accelerate the “tokenization” of our economy, by “allowing peer-to-peer value transmission in real time, without intermediaries. (…) In Web3, you will no longer need to go through a banking intermediary to transfer money or through a rental agency to rent your holiday home.
He thinks that Web3 will also change our relationship to the issue of personal data protection by providing a universal identity layer. While today’s Internet users must juggle multiple usernames and passwords, Web3 will enable the concept of Self-Sovereign Identity, “an approach where the individual should be able to control and manage their digital identity, without ‘intervention of a third-party administrative authority’.
These developments affect financial market players, who do not want to miss out on a technological revolution. Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign in January 2022, via its “a16z” investment fund, dedicated to Web3. Alchemy, a blockchain development platform claiming to be part of this movement, raised $200 million the following month, bringing its valuation to more than $10 billion.
Critics of Web3 doubt these record figures, raising the specter of a bubble. The Atlantic denounced a financialized vision of the Internet, widely supported by investors and speculative currencies – “there is an immense sum to be gained” – based on “confused projects” and varied “counter-cultures”.
An article from Les Echos reports that regulators are concerned about some aspects of the project, including DeFi (Decentralized Finance), which aims to make users independent of banks. “This could encourage money laundering,” the newspaper said. Other voices view the concept as nebulous, with Elon Musk dismissing Web3 as a marketing buzzword.
“In the era of Web3, platforms would no longer be owned by for-profit companies, but by communities of users.”