Voice of the Industry

Demystifying the pains and gains of web 3.0 in 5 steps

Friday 8 July 2022 10:06 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Voice of the industry

With everyone talking about web 3.0, we thought we might help you navigate this space by presenting the pains and gains of web 3.0 by answering 5 questions around this topic. 

By Urs Gubser, Worldline and Mirela Ciobanu, The Paypers

What happens when two Italians, one Swiss, and a Romanian start talking about the crypto space at Money 20/20, during Money Street Fest with some beers in their hands? They raise big questions regarding where humanity is going and if we are ready for all the technological developments, benefits, and complications, not only in finance but in all domains (gaming, entertainment, ecommerce, education, etc.) web 3.0 promises. Continuing the conversation also online, with one of our readers, Urs Gubser from Worldline, we decided to put some of our ideas on (The) ‘paper (s)’ and share them with you for debate. Ready?

What exactly is web 3.0 – part 1

Before entering web 3.0, one first needs to have a piece of common knowledge about web 1.0 and web 2.0. Web 1.0 was the first iteration of the world wide web. It had static pages, most of the users were content consumers, it was hard to interact, and information was sent at once after filling in some forms which required the whole page to refresh. Web 2.0 is characterised by user-generated content, usability, and interoperability for end users. Within web 2.0 large containers of data (users’ data) can be monetised and sometimes are concentrated/centralised in social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and other big marketplaces. People are encouraged to create, collaborate, edit, categorise, exchange, and promote information, to create network effects and better content.

All this was possible with the introduction of a new feature in the web browser called ‘AJAX’ (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML), which allowed the web browser to asynchronously pull- and push data from and to the web server without refreshing the whole page. Today, we look at web 2.0 and no longer think of it as powered through evolutionary technology, but there is a clear relationship between the advances of technology and the use cases that were derived. In many ways, web 2.0 is a successful technology push.

What exactly is web 3.0 – part 2

Web 3.0 is the next phase in the evolution of the internet that connects data from individuals, businesses, and machines worldwide. It creates a wealth of data, interpreted swiftly by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and other emerging techs to deliver a more connected and intelligent internet. Web 3.0 is open, permissionless, and trustless. 

Others consider web 3.0 as referring to a group of blockchain-powered companies championing the ideal of a decentralised internet, as opposed to one based on centralised platforms like Google or Facebook. Frances Zelazny from Anonybit has captured well the dichotomy between concentrating power in the hands of a few (social media/tech companies that monetise on users' data) and being in control of who you exchange your info with. ‘Within a Web 3.0 reality, users can expect increased democratisation, inclusion, and user control, instead of having big tech and centralised gatekeepers’.

Some of the most popular web 3.0 tools and services being developed involve NFTs and the metaverse.

Blockchain, crypto, tokens, NFTs, digital assets, DeFi, web 3.0, the metaverse, etc.? Are they all the same?

No, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and tokens are a component of what we call the crypto space

  • blockchain is the network where all the magic happens

  • crypto is an umbrella term for the industry

  • cryptocurrency is the digital asset native to the public blockchain

  • Bitcoin is the native asset of the most prominent public blockchain

  • tokens are a form of value represented and traded on a blockchain; tokens can also describe fungible tokens (NFTs). 

Cryptocurrencies, tokens, NFTs, and anything that is created and stored digitally, is identifiable and discoverable and has or provides value is considered a digital asset. These (together with a user’s digital identity) play an important role in supporting the metaverse - a collection of shared virtual worlds accessible through technologies such as virtual reality (VR), extended reality (XR), and augmented reality (AR). Based on interoperability, these spaces aim to become a large and interconnected ecosystem where people can move freely (by using their digital identity) and take their digital assets with them. To move tokens and digital assets in the virtual world we need some protocols that are part of decentralised finance (DeFi). Digital assets and DeFi are together loosely known as web 3.0. According to 11:FS’ report on web 3.0, web 3.0 is built on the primitives of crypto, but it talks more about the business models and economic opportunities.

What are the implications of web 3.0 on users and businesses?

Despite a slowdown in investing across the board in tech, investors are still pouring money into this sector, with some web 3.0 companies popping out. These aim to create immersive experiences for consumers in different areas like gaming, entertainment, conferencing, etc. while others focus more on offering DeFi products. For instance, Crowdpad uses community tokens as a new way for creators to interact with their fans more engagingly, while Kiln focuses on the institutional DeFi space is Kiln (formerly SkillZ). It offers an enterprise-grade staking platform for institutional clients, either to stake their liquidity or to offer staking as a service to their users.

Web 3.0 apps can be used to incentivise some types of behaviours (e.g. Sweatcoin is a free app that rewards your daily steps with a new-generation currency you can spend on cool products, donate to charity or convert into SWEAT) or enable gaming and social interaction. The future of gaming will be about handing the power to the players instead of confining them to one central authority. Players will be able to own their in-game purchased assets, allowing them to take their assets and utilise them across multiple games instead of just one. Social interactions follow this through online games. It’s the social aspect that the Meta company is trying to develop. Other segments where web 3.0 has potential (via creating metaverse experiences) are education, professional work, travelling, and leisure time. 

But this space comes also with some complications. The biggest advantage that web 3.0 promised was that it will be permissionless, and thus censorship-resistant. However, in the light of the Russia- Ukraine war, several countries are banning the underlying web 3.0 applications, while the key web 3.0 infrastructure applications are also not operating in some countries. Metamask, a popular crypto wallet, and Opensea, a large NFT marketplace on web 3.0, are not providing services in some sanctioned countries. Other complications are caused by handling the increasing number of blockchain nodes and transactions, and the transaction costs: a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain may cost up to USD 50. While web 3.0 can maintain trust and offer many opportunities for growth and development, it also raises some security concerns as to its predecessor, web 2.0 due to information quality, data manipulation and confidentiality, and web 3.0 availability. Not to mention governance in web 3.0. How to deal with governance conflicts and groups coordinating abuse, how to avoid the spread of misinformation, or how to deal with situations when public figures avoid accountability, are all common issues.

Also, it can be very complicated for newcomers to understand how to navigate the web 3.0 space. And because it proposes some changes in how humans interact, feel, and sense the world via the use of VR and AR tech, favouring more virtual worlds and online channels than physical and direct human interactions, it can be disruptive for the human spirit.

Can Web 3.0 introduce a model where the economic problems have been overcome and money is meaningless like in Star Trek? Or is this a utopia, as the human DNA simply doesn’t fit?

Web 3.0 talks about technology, mostly distributed applications that are running on blockchain, and the possibility of decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs). This today manifests itself in the world of DeFi or decentralised finance, where you can do financial ‘trickery’ without needing a bank. It is the fact that it’s not regulated and supposedly distributed without central governance, giving hope to broader applications that could also be unregulated. At the core of this, is the desire to remove central controls (to decentralise) and give the power back to the people. Similarly, to how Bitcoin was a reaction to the financial crisis in 08/09, this feels like a reaction to bigtechs that dominate our digital lives.

Vitalik Butherin himself talks about giving the power back to the people in his paper: ‘Decentralised Society: Finding Web3’s Soul’. In the abstract, the paper states: ‘We call this richer, pluralistic ecosystem ‘Decentralized Society’ (DeSoc)—a co-determined sociality, where Souls and communities come together bottom-up, as emergent properties of each other to co-create plural network goods and intelligence, at a range of scales’. Further, it states: ‘With such augmented sociality, web 3.0 can eschew today’s hyper-financialisation in favour of a more transformative, pluralist future of increasing returns across social distance’.

But where is human nature in all of this? The pro Web 3.0 camp is looking at technology as something of a saviour and believes that we had to address the technology to address human nature.

If web 3.0 is the new world order, what are CBDCs?

Within a web 3.0 reality, what are central bank digital currencies and what is the central bank's new role? Lately, it has started to understand the implications of cryptocurrencies and is trying to create a more traditional product that could have the same appeal and address issues, such as cross-border payments and helping the underbanked and non-banked. Is this an evolutionary change to society as it exists?

Comparing web 3.0’s goals with the aim of CBDCs feels like comparing the utopian society in Star Trek to our democratic systems today. And we quote from the Wikipedia article on Trekonomics: ‘The first chapter focuses on Star Trek's universe (primarily, the United Federation of Planets, or Federation for short) and the absence of currency in it. In a society where economic problems have been overcome, money is meaningless. It explains how that nation functions without the pricing mechanism and the results of eliminating money as both a unit of account and as an information signal’.

The question is whether the Star Trek model stays a utopia because human DNA simply doesn’t fit, or if web 3.0 can introduce technology that would support a model such as this Utopia. There is further indication of technology in Trekonomics, namely the ‘replicators’ that can produce complete meals or parts out of thin air. So, think of it as a 3D printer that can print anything – an apparent metaphor for automation.


The 2022 internet user has started to be more in control of their data, participate more in the creation of the digital economy, and demands equal opportunities and resources, no matter what her/his demographics are. The advent of web 3.0, which aims to create a decentralised worldwide web where every individual will be in control of their data, sounds promising to meet these demands. Moreover, all technological advances promised by web 3.0 might suggest that people across the globe could be leading comfortable and meaningful lives and that inequality that exists now, can be overcome. 

But to be able to meet these objectives, we need to educate ourselves around these topics, as to understand what is coming, how to prepare, and what is meaningful for us. Moreover, private and public sectors plus regulators must get together to discuss and collaborate on these themes to make sure we create a solid basis for the next web.

‘We have never seen a time when more people could make history, record history, publicize history, and amplify history all at the same time', remarked Dov Seidman. In previous epochs, 'to make history you needed an army, to record it you needed a film studio or a newspaper, to publicize it you needed a publicist. Now anyone can start a wave. Now anyone can make history with a keystroke.’ Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

It is up to us to press the suitable keystroke.

About Urs Gubser

Urs started his professional life as a software engineer in securities trading. Originally from Switzerland, he brought his skill and know-how to New York and Hong Kong. While on assignment in Hong Kong, he caught the payment bug. He and his family finally moved back to Switzerland in 2015 after 17 years abroad where he joined SIX Payment services as head of eCommerce. Today, Urs is focused on customer experience and seamless end-to-end user journeys. Urs holds an MBA from Manchester University, UK.


About Mirela Ciobanu

Mirela Ciobanu is a Senior Editor at The Paypers and has been actively involved in drafting industry reports, carrying out interviews, and writing about innovation in payments and fintech. She is passionate about finding the latest news on AI, crypto, blockchain, DeFi and she is an active advocate of the need to keep our online data/presence protected. Mirela has a bachelor’s degree in English language and holds a master’s degree in Marketing. She can be reached at mirelac@thepaypers.com or via LinkedIn.

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Keywords: blockchain, tokenization, cryptocurrency, Web 3.0, web3, DeFi, metaverse, digital assets, CBDC, payments
Categories: DeFi & Crypto & Web3
Companies: Worldline
Countries: World
This article is part of category

DeFi & Crypto & Web3


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