Web3: Internet in the blockchain era, a utopia?

Web3 is the new password. The new “password”, as explained in good French by the players of the crypto ecosystem. But what is it? And what is it for? Web3 would be the third generation of the Web, which allows you to consult sites on the Internet via browser, after Web 1 and Web 2. Web1, since 1990, is characterized by a strong decentralization but tends to be reduced to reading information on the screen, with little interaction between Internet users. The Web2, since 2005, is illustrated by the emergence of social networks, with the domination of Gafa (Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon) and a strong centralization of data.

Web3 must infuse you with a new decentralization, based on blockchain technology, which allows you to exchange financial assets in the form of digital tokens but also data without going through third parties, such as Facebook or a bank. “Web 3 has to give data back to users,” said Tangi Le Calvez. The CEO of the startup Goin, which facilitates investments in crypto-assets, spoke at a round table dedicated to Web3, during the CryptoDay fair, organized on 1 June by Finance Innovation at Station F.

“Users have (digital) wallets that will hold value (cryptocurrencies, tokens, NFTs, etc.) and everyone will be able to directly exchange this value with other parties,” he explains. Web3 must therefore open the data market and allow users to claim their own, with the possibility of directly monetizing their productions on the blockchain. We therefore speak of “tokenization”, the process by which data is converted into a “token”, ie a digital token.

Retrieve the value captured by the Gafa

In Web2, most of the value created is captured by the tech giants. According to a May report from venture capital fund a16z crypto, Web3 pays an average of $ 174,000 to each non-fungible token maker (NFT), while Spotify pays just $ 636 per artist, YouTube pays $ 2.47 per artist. chain on its platform and Meta (ex-Facebook) grants $ 0.10 per user.

“Web 3 will transform the Internet into a huge platform for the transfer of value,” sums up Tangi Le Calvez. “Web3 makes assets much more liquid and makes trading smoother,” adds Elodie de Marchi, chief operating officer of Kaiko, a provider of digital asset data. “Buying an apartment could take three minutes instead of three months.”

Scalability problem

But is Web3 really the future of the web? Technical, human and financial factors could at least slow down its use. To begin with, “technology is not yet capable of absorbing all the flows of transactions and data that pass through it,” said Tangi Le Calvez. There is a problem of “scalability”, that is to use the blockchain on a large scale, to record and carry out all transactions without causing saturation of the network.

“Today there is no infrastructure that allows for mass adoption,” admits Elodie de Marchi. And several blockchains, such as Solana and Ethereum, have already suffered from major congestion problems.

A decentralized universe that is difficult to regulate

Hence, this new universe generally escapes regulation. “When a market represents billions, it is not possible that it is not regulated and that justice cannot punish thieves and hackers”, underlines Tangi Le Calvez. But the work is huge, as these new technologies are complex. With one major obstacle: their decentralized functioning. “The regulator must exercise his power over a centralized actor,” stresses Olivier Jaillon, head of digital insurer Wakam.

And if the Web3 and the underlying technology on which it is based – the blockchain – were to bring greater transparency, allowing you to verify the history of transactions in public and decentralized ledgers, the applications and projects that develop in this ecosystem are far from all. reliable and scams are numerous.

Disintermediation of finance can weaken small shareholders

The problem of investor protection also arises in a decentralized Web3 without intermediaries. “We cannot fully move towards decentralization. Technologies remain very complex, few people know how to create a wallet and analyze transactions on the blockchain ”, admits Tangi Le Calvez.

“Does disintermediating finance bring anything?”, Asks Stéphane Reverre, president of SUN ZU Lab, which provides liquidity analysis of the cryptocurrency market, bluntly. “The intermediary plays a role of protection of the small holder”, he develops. “Buying an apartment in five minutes, is it a good thing for both the buyer and the seller?” he asks in a new rhetorical question.

The protection of small investors will only intervene “when the legislation has evolved and the crypto ecosystem too”, estimates Stéphane Reverre. For him, the industry must shed some of its libertarian ideals. In other words, it agrees to be more regulated by states and centralized institutions.

Web3 application yet to be confirmed

Also, do the masses of citizens and users really want Web3? “Users don’t care about their data. I am not saying that it is not desirable to have control of your data, but that the average user is not required ”, assures Stéphane Reverre.

The use of decentralized financial applications developed on the blockchain is not within everyone’s reach. The population is far from being made up exclusively of fanatics who are passionate about this technology. Many people certainly prefer the ease of use offered by Web2 today, even if it means giving up control of their data. “We live in closed ecosystems – Android, iOS … – very practical. Are we ready to get out of our chains? ”, Relaunches the SUN ZU Lab boss.

Very skeptical of Web3, he also expresses doubts about its profitability and therefore in the long term on the amount of investment he will benefit from. “I don’t see economies of scale in this ecosystem when there are monstrous economies of scale today” in Web2.

Cédric Teissier, founder of Echotraffic, a fund that invests in crypto projects, thinks that Web3 will not make Web2 disappear, which has allowed for the development of multiple uses and structures. “But it is a revolution. The opportunities are huge in the medium and long term, ”he considers. “Regulators are working on a regulated framework for this technology to become the norm.”

A not so decentralized Web, with new intermediaries

However, the nascent Web3 already shows similarities to Web2. “Let’s go back to the intermediaries. The truth (on the Web of tomorrow, ed) is certainly a bit in the middle, between decentralization and centralization “, Tangi Le Calvez speculates. In fact, the purchases and sales of NFT today take place in particular through the Opensea platform, which largely dominates starts the ecosystem and charges transaction fees to get paid The cryptocurrency universe already has its giants, centralized exchange platforms, such as Binance and Coinbase.

“In the name of great ideals at the base, we will end up with a mercantile system”, Stéphane Reverre dissolved. “We wonder how we’re going to make money, this way of thinking permeates the blockchain and Web3.”

In the meantime, it is clear that more and more real-world brands are looking to invest in this new virtual universe, such as Nike, which launched its first digital sneakers sold in the form of NFT, or Dolce & Gabbana which promises “a journey through real life and the metaverse ”to the buyers of its non-fungible tokens. Web3, a new tool to make profits?

Leave a Comment