In recent months, the terms Web 3 or Web 3.0, but also concepts like the metaverse have often been used as synonyms. However, while both of these offer a glimpse into the world of the future and the internet which is drastically different from the one humanity is using now, these two concepts should not be used interchangeably. At the same time, their differences should not become contested concepts that turn into a source for bitter divisions related to the ideology of the internet that is yet to be built.
Both of these have their position in the world of the future, just like bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have their place in both realms, as well as the space they might share. This is why it is important to understand what Web 3 and metaverse bring to the table, the technology that allows them to do the same. Exactly the same mindset applies to how crypto tokens and the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem fall into place with their conceptual and practical merger that will occur in the years and decades to come.
The metaverse came about from a now-30-year-old cyberpunk novel. The same novel is called Snow Crash and it came out in 1992, offering something that is more similar to a vision than any definite reality. Today, people tend to think of it as an immersive world of 3D graphics that is persistent, unlimited, and synchronous for all of its users. It is a place for esports players, digital artists, cypherpunks, but it is just as much a location for corporate executives, marketers, and soccer moms.
As a digital native environment, metaverse allows its users to work, play, learn, entertain and do anything else they put their mind to. But still, or precisely because of all of this, the metaverse feels very speculative and vague even today, several decades after its vision was set out in that seminal novel. Since then, there have been further visualizations of the metaverse and the most famous one comes from the movie Ready Player One. Here as well, it is presented like a space that is built from all of its elements and different currents, all of which somehow pool into a unified a tangible space that serves everyones’ needs without hampering anyone at the same time.
Drastically different from the metaverse, the Web 3 concept is a much more specific idea that offers some clear-cut solutions to issues and problems of the current Web 2.0 setup. It came about as a reaction to the ecosystems that are walled-in and take place in spaces like those made by YouTube and Facebook. Here, users have their data first and foremost extracted by automated, AI-run systems. Furthermore, the ability of users to create content they want or to control the level of privacy exposure is also abysmally low and getting lower by the day.
Web 3 aims to change that model and subvert it in many ways, most of all by providing direct control and ownership of content. This can be done through the process of building apps on blockchain, which are called dapps, where users have access to a peer-to-peer network, with substantial controls of the processes that take place there related to their own activity. Web 3 also effectively bypasses gatekeepers and middlemen entities, as the data lives on the same blockchain network in a form of a public good. The same good is open to any contribution, but also to any form of monetization that is neither exclusive nor restrictive.
There is no major reason to think that regular currencies, like USD or EUR, would not be welcomed in the metaverse and its Web 3 applications. After all, in many ways, this setup will directly continue to enforce the standards of the present-day internet. That includes well-developed systems for online payments and many more features of finance that are both online and globally accessible. So, anything that goes presently online in terms of finance will go in the metaverse as well. But, there are still many features of cryptocurrencies that would outperform the possibilities of fiat money. Besides the fact that digital currencies like bitcoin are fully decentralized, they are also much more versatile.
Micro-transactions, instant ledger alignment, and many other characteristics of digital currencies are essential to some online businesses. For others, they are also a bundle of a range of advantages that should be employed constantly by any entity. The metaverse would only open up the playing field further for such endeavors. Thanks to that, there is no doubt that crypto would be in the metaverse from day one. The same applies to the services of Web 3 and any other process that takes place in the same space. Best of all, there is no need to promote crypto in the metaverse. The ability, functions, and financial characteristics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will do that job on their own.
The merger of Web 3 and the metaverse, along with the use of both of these ideas separately, boils down to a set of fanciful notions. Many economists, like other experts as well, including those from the domain of technology, believe that the present development of the socio-economic system simply does not allow for these functionalities or conceptual functions. This is in many ways true. However, there is also the idea of the process of tech and social change is something beyond the present capabilities. Instead, the combination of Web 3 and some aspects of the metaverse is something that should inspire those who will eventually build it.
That is why it is still important to keep up with the same plans and developments, no matter how not likely those possibilities might seem at the present moment. Ultimately, there is a slim chance that things like the metaverse will feature concepts from cyberpunk fiction where players in VR games use bitcoin to purchase items and services. However, there is an absolute certainty that this will happen eventually in some shape. Whenever that might happen, it will happen because of the efforts of those who did not stop believing that it might happen.