Sophie Guibaud, co-founder and Chief Commercial and Growth Officer at Fiat Republic, goes back to the future as she imagines what Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision will deliver 30 years from now
The year is 2052. Your everyday life is powered by Web 3.0. Traditional bank accounts go down in the history books and instead you use a variety of embedded wallets specific to the service you want to access. Their wallets are self-optimized, plugging and automatically lending crypto when available to give you the best returns on your money.
All payments are now automated too – paying is no longer something you do, but something that just happens in an embedded world. Cash is dead and all fiat values have been moved to crypto. You own a variety of NFTs that you display in the Metaverse and switch to your online avatar several times a day. They also regularly rent some of these for extra income. Your second life has become an integral part of your offline life.
THE ORIGIN STORY
The original interpretation of the Internet (Web 1.0) was a revolutionary tool for communication and collaboration, but its centralized design led to abuses of power by the companies that controlled it. As the Internet evolved, it slowly but surely began to shape our habits, and it seemed to know everything about us; our likes, dislikes, friends and favorite dog videos. In the beginning it was seen as useful as it invited you to read news articles you didn’t know existed or benefited from targeted advertising for products and services you didn’t know you needed.
This could be interpreted as good or bad, but there is no doubt that “convenience” turned into invasiveness as communication switched to Web 2.0. Social media was the flagship of Web 2.0, allowing users to upload their own content and creating online forums championing freedom of speech. However, a series of high-profile data leaks, abuse campaigns, and the spread of misinformation made it clear that this freedom of expression was built on a for-profit business model.
The platforms on which it was hosted had ultimate control over both the content and the data of the users consuming it. The big corporations, although sanctioned several times, neglected the well-being of the users and were only interested in collecting data in order to then sell them profitably. Users started demanding more privacy for their data.
Web 3.0 was always meant to be, but it was only after Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin White Paper was published in October 2008 that the framework and ideology were created to fully realize the future. The Satoshi Paper is viewed today in the same way as some of history’s most important works; Laying the foundations for society’s transition to Web 3.0 through open source software and leveraging blockchain technology to be trusted and permissionless.
This third iteration of the digital space has wrested power from big corporations and democratized everything from banking to the arts, while banishing the need for intermediaries and championing self-government on a global scale.
Web 3.0 promised to fix Web 2.0’s flaws; Decentralized apps addressed the way data is stored, moving away from large data centers and instead leveraging the security and protection of the Nodal blockchain to provide better protection against data leaks and data loss. It eliminated the threat from hackers and provided users with a safer place to live. Information became auditable and, perhaps most importantly, the digital space became self-governing, with blockchain technology allowing users to vote for themselves, which constituted online abuse.
This third iteration of the digital space has wrested power from big corporations and democratized everything from banking to the arts
THE BRIDGE TO WEB 3.0
By 2021, 13 years after the publication of the Satoshi paper, almost four percent of the world’s population (more than 300 million people) were users of crypto. Institutions were also keen to take part; Governments had started issuing digital currencies; and traditional banking firms like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan had incorporated crypto into funds and taken steps into the metaverse.
However, traditional institutions still wielded a lot of power over financial ecosystems, as did fiat currencies. Governments that decided to create central bank digital currencies (CBDC) switched from fiat to tokenized fiat, but this was still highly centralized and controlled (just like most things in Web 2.0). Banks around the world began experimenting in the form of holding and trading crypto and establishing a presence in the Metaverse.
At the same time, Web 3.0 stakeholders focused on decentralization and self-government. There was an old versus new dichotomy, and it was a huge barrier to entry for those looking to access crypto. For these early adopters, currency exchange was slow and complicated, while traditional compliance didn’t work for crypto platforms. Platforms craved similar treatment from banks that e-commerce or other businesses could expect. The forward-thinking members, old and new, realized they needed each other to succeed.
A UNITED VOICE APPEARS
By creating a consortium of reputable and responsible crypto providers, Fiat Republic became a facilitator overseeing the power shift between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. Its purpose was to educate, mediate, and negotiate; to become the voice of the crypto industry and work with traditional regulators to implement the code of conduct in crypto that we see today.
By bringing together experts from both the old and new worlds and creating a bridge between the two, it enabled banks to adopt crypto flows and better understand the crypto business by interpreting the real-time transaction data at their disposal.
Regulators have also been consulted – open dialogue has been encouraged and a unified voice from the crypto community has been omnipresent in the creation of new crypto regulations. The revolution was about efficiency and each serving its purpose. Fiat Republic provided a unified voice and standard to drive business opportunities within crypto.
A LARGE-SCALE ECONOMY: EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
By 2030, there were more than a billion active users worldwide and the global cryptocurrency market was valued at nearly $3 trillion. Bitcoin had become a stable store of value and a mainstream currency, bolstered by the development of payments and micropayments powered by the Lightning Network. Blockchain was now the central source of truth, immutable and permanent, and adopted by every industry from healthcare to law.
Employers now paid their employees in cryptocurrencies once the work was done, with some opting to build in performance-based bonuses with smart contracts. Financial institutions have used crypto to diversify fund portfolios and hedge against inflation, driven by platforms like Fiat Republic to convert legacy fiat investments into crypto.
For the early adopters who trusted cryptocurrencies, the rewards were extremely bountiful and the return on investment was better than they could ever have hoped for. Even latecomers had their chance to get a piece of the pie; Crypto has become a leading currency in the global peer-to-peer lending market, worth more than $700 billion by 2030.
Satoshi’s vision was finally realized, and decentralized finance (defi) now financially empowered the masses to take control of their present and future. Players like Fiat Republic made it easier for people and organizations around the world to access a growing number of markets and sectors. Web 3.0 changed the way people viewed the workplace and how individuals accomplished specific tasks. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) thrived alongside the digital workforce, helping to resolve the element of trust that the Internet had struggled with for decades.
An increasing number of tasks have been automated by blockchain technology. By breaking the ties with third parties that drove connectivity in the Web 2.0 era, Web 3.0 could offer employers and employees autonomy and freedom to organize their workplaces. In the creative realm, NFTs forever changed the way artists could monetize their work. E-commerce was also changing, with profits being shared equally among those on the blockchain rather than benefiting from few. People now felt a sense of belonging and ownership, and were fairly rewarded for their contributions to trade.
This neo-capitalism was not necessarily the redistribution of wealth, but the promotion of entrepreneurship and equal access to the financial ecosystem for people around the world.
TRUE FINANCIAL INCLUSION AT SCALE
The idea behind Web 3.0 was and still is inclusion; that society and individuals retain responsibility and ownership of what they share and with whom they interact and do business. Web 3.0 not only empowers individuals to own their data, but also compensates for the time they spend online, thereby shaping financial inclusion. Anyone can choose who to do business with.
When it all started, it was all about people reclaiming their freedom for digital expression. It’s also now the legacy of decentralized ownership and financial inclusion of the people, by the people, for the people.
Fiat Repbublic will host a webinar on unlocking the benefits of Web 3.0 on October 27 at 15:00 GMT. To join An Online Democracy: Web 2.5, go to https://eu1.hubs.ly/H01R95k0
This article was published in The Fintech Magazine Issue 25, pages 40-41