As merging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), blockchain technology and the metaverse, become more and more familiar to people, there is one that is currently being mouthed by businesses maybe more frequently than others—and that is Web3 or Web 3.0.
As global businesses and start-ups claim to already be on Web3 to show how advanced they are, there is a big question of, “Are they really using Web3?” More importantly, there is a question that should be answered first, “What exactly is Web3?”
Web1 was obviously the start of the Internet where everything was “read only” and there were only a small number of websites that can be accessed through a browser. Web2, on the other hand, is the World Wide Web that is known today. After decades of constant development, people are now able to store data on clouds, go on social media, stream videos, play high-definition games, work remotely, and so on.
Despite its development and ease of use that has made information accessible and borderless, there is something fundamentally wrong with Web2. On top of it not being able to keep up with how data is being generated rapidly and how the current Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses have run out, it is allowing data to be harvested and monetized without any kind of benefit to the user. In short, big companies are profiting off of people’s data.
“In terms of Web3, people often talk about the subject, but don’t think about what actually needs to make it happen. And digital assets, digital identity for us are the key components that enable the future of Web3. And to build that trust in order to trade digitally, you need to verify who you say you are,” nChain CIO Christine Leong explained during her presentation at the Global CIO Institution at Oxford earlier this month.
“It is only by having better identity and better systems around that enable emerging technologies to protect our future and our privacy, and to make sure that we take back control of our own data, so it’s not monetized by everybody else. And that’s why I think digital identity and digital assets together formed the underpinnings of Web3,” she added.
Although there is no exact and clear definition yet of what Web3 is as it is still currently being developed, crucial to making digital identity and digital assets ready for Web3 is the full integration of blockchain in digital systems. Only when this is done can total digitalization occur and Web3 be fully developed.
However, not any blockchain will do. It has to be permissionless, truly decentralized and scalable. A public and permissionless blockchain, not only enables decentralization, but it also provides real transparency, which then allows for auditability and traceability. This, then, builds trust towards the system and brings about collaboration and further growth.
Decentralization is necessary so that data is given utmost security and privacy, especially where identities are concerned. Scalability, on the other hand, allows for data blocks and transaction capacity to be increased according to market demands. This will ensure that data required by emerging technologies, as well as data generated by them, can be efficiently accommodated.
Although businesses nowadays claim to be on Web3, it is something that has yet to be fully innovated. Hence, while they may exhibit some of its components, Web3 is actually something that is far greater than that. It is something that will give back ownership of data to the user and herald a fully digital world.