Make no mistake, the implication of the rise of Web 3.0 would be the complete capitulation of the internet as it currently exists. Advertising as the only form of revenue online needs to be eradicated if anything the scale and ambition of Web 3.0 are to emerge and flourish. Even the least ambitious ideals of the internet at its conception has not been realized and instead the world we live in is a centralized monopoly dominated by a diminishing number of too big to fail companies.
When few companies dictate the terms of our participation we should always pause for thought. When the outcome of those conditions is the destruction of any semblance of privacy it is critical that we revolt before it’s too late. Free was an awesome model for gaining mass adoption online but we must quickly realize the cost for relinquishing ownership of our data and recognize what we are paying in terms of a lack of controls on our privacy. In short free means exploitation at a scale never before seen in human history.
So how do we get there?
To begin to take back control there must be a blurring of the boundary between data and finance, the analog and digital worlds, where a data bank enables your participation at zero friction. In order to participate in this cyclical economy, we need a digital passport which collects our data, protects it, lets you monetize it while enabling the payments alluded to above. It needs to be instantaneous and it has to happens without any need to confirm. We need to be able to trust that third parties will only as for the fee promised and they need to trust that it will be paid. Blockchain solves all these problems.
This will be achieved by a distributed model of digital taxation. This will take the form of metered-micropayments for all products, services or content you consume online — compensating creators equal to your engagement. Where industries have died, digital tokens will enable those things which acquire most attention to thrive. Cryptocurrency has been fascinating but we are currently in the replication phase — where people are trying to reinvent what currently exists — instead of doing things with blockchain and cryptocurrency which were previously impossible.
Today FinTech companies are innovating around existing products and services to create a better customer experience, tomorrow they will need to do far more. The future we imagine is akin to a Netflix of Financial services. Fintechs are on the brink of offering consumers a personalized menu of products instead of one-size-fits-all services. This must merge with our digital footprint online in order for us to ensure we get the best value for everything.
The worlds data bank will effectively place every individual in control of all of their data. Instead of isolated bits of information existing on millions of servers around the world ready to be hacked, we will demand that we are the only people who hold it.
Peer to peer has been awesome for platform creators but terrible for gig economy workers. As Ubers Valuation has skyrocketed into the hundreds of Billions, rewards for drivers have plummetted. In short, the compensation for providing the service and maintaining the platforms are misaligned. This will change. Service providers will be rewarded with equity in the underlying business through new fractional ownership models. Every trip will equate to a higher stake of ownership. Drive more? Own more. This is what a blurring of the financial world and the establishment of data banks enables.
Last mile delivery is about to explode. It’s relatively cheap to get a large volume of goods from one geographic location to another but It’s ridiculously expensive to get it from one place in that city to a large number of addresses. Look for there to be a number of VC backed players emerge in this space in the next 18 months. They will initially tie together D2C companies and their community, enabling those businesses to leverage the engagement of the crowd to let their customers benefit and lower delivery costs significantly. I guarantee a unicorn emerges in this domain by 2020.
Crowdfunding is dead, long live crowdfunding. Investing in equity is prehistoric, consumer purchasing behavior will become a new form of investing. Voting with your wallet will mean owning through your decisions. Buy something, own it, buy more, own more. Instead of purchasing stocks and shares, everyday consumers will accrue ownership of the futures most exciting companies through their existing purchasing behavior. This means that the can of coke you are drinking would be a tiny fraction of equity in the business, equally the chocolate bar in your pocket or the soap in your bathroom. Wealth will be redistributed. Where in the past the only beneficiaries of our actions were the shareholders in the business which produced the things we consume — there will be a mass reaction against this. Technology will enable a swarm of individuals to cohesively act as one for mutual economic benefit. This will give rise to co-operatively owned brands which produce a vast number of the things we consume. People will be incentivized to act as selfishly as possible, benefitting everyone who does so as well.
Web 3.0 and Beyond
The internet has sparked the third industrial revolution, but like each previous to this one, it has resulted in centralization and monopolized control of all assets and utilities. To evolve past this and the rewards to be more equally spread we must appreciate then understand the impossible. The internet has allowed things that could never have been achieved before to happen but like the analog world before it, we translated those structures and institutions to a digital domain because they were familiar and easy to process.
Their time has passed and what’s needed is an alternative. All innovation online begins at the periphery of legality. In the same way that Napster was a direct precursor to Spotify and the peer-to-peer companies that dominate today, how are companies that are blocked from using advertising to generate revenue making money?
Web 3.0 needs a new trust architecture to integrate with that of the past. For me, that means finance and data becoming one of the same things. Our money and our information will become one of the same and we will become the guardians and beneficiaries of our digital and physical existence.