Introduced as the next Internet revolution, Web 3.0 encompasses myriad concepts that are often only vaguely understood, if not misunderstood. These include open source, blockchain, the metaverse, cryptocurrencies, P2P, NFTs, DApps… This topic has been fueling new excitement among consumers ever since the outbreak of COVID back in March 2020. Since then, many companies and institutions have embraced the subject with some fanfare. A variety of methods of financing have popped up, we have seen an unprecedented capacity to transform daydreams into real-world products. Unfortunately, that boom has brought about some resounding failures, such as Terra-Luna, Three Arrows Capital, Celsius, Voyager, and FTX, all against a deteriorating macroeconomic backdrop (the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, inflation, investors fleeing from risky assets, etc.). As a result, many companies in the sector—not to mention many individuals who invested too much of their savings—have gone under. Yet, despite the deep erosion of confidence, I am convinced that 2023 will be a year of building Web 3.0 on a healthy foundation.

A technological, economic, and ideological revolution

Before considering the implications for various business sectors, I suggest starting off by trying to better understand just what Web 3.0 is. A straightforward way to define it would be to say that it replaces the current Internet with a decentralized and open system. Each element that makes up the Internet—file storage, databases, servers, processing power, browsers, streaming infrastructure, applications, domain names, data indexing—can be replaced by a decentralized, public version, shared and owned by all stakeholders, from users to content creators.

If Web 1.0 simply provided access to data online, and Web 2.0 made it possible to manipulate and interact with it, Web 3.0 will give us the ability to control and derive value from data that we own. Returning to the origins of what the Internet was supposed to be in the minds of its creators, Web 3.0 looks like a free and unrestricted, democratic, and uncensored Internet, directly owned by its users, a far cry from what ultimately arose in the hands of the Web 2.0 behemoths (GAMAM, Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, etc.). This new Internet, which promises to be a technological, economic, ideological, and societal revolution, could well become an essential part of our daily lives and transform many sectors, from tech to finance, from luxury goods to gaming.

Advances in every area

Before we get there, we will first have to overcome a host of technological, ideological, financial, and organizational challenges. In 2023, there will be real advances in several areas that will make up the Internet of tomorrow.

Web 3.0 is the embodiment of the Internet of value, where everyone can own and exchange digital goods, and where everyone can own a part of the system. All this is made possible by the advent of building blocks that include technologies for storing and transmitting information without governance by any central authority (blockchains), cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, decentralized applications (DApps), peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

Each of those building blocks already has real-world applications in many sectors.

Blockchains are used for traceability in manufacturing, logistics, transportation, food, healthcare, as well as for document certification and video streaming.

Smart contracts and decentralized applications are already used to secure transactions, to put users in direct contact with authors and content creators, and for record keeping.

Decentralized architectures and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks are replacing some traditional client-server architectures, while decentralized alternatives are emerging as web browsers and search engines.

NFTs—which make it possible to authenticate the purchase of a digital good—are spreading fast in the worlds of art, gaming, luxury goods, and licensing. Meanwhile, the metaverse—which interconnects digital worlds in a virtual space—is opening up infinite possibilities for tech, video games, and social media.

2023: a perfect year for building

The cascading bankruptcies of 2022 have undoubtedly contributed to a major undercutting of confidence in the Web 3.0 ecosystem among consumers and businesses alike. And yet, the players behind those failures were centralized, far from transparent, and more interested in speculating and profiting from the naivety of their customers than in the potential of an extremely promising technology.

In contrast, pure Web 3.0 projects, such as the public blockchains Bitcoin and Ethereum, have withstood the downturn, which highlights the absolute necessity of decentralization, openness, and consensus. This has the merit of proving that the fundamentals are there, and those fundamentals remain despite the ventures that have failed over the past year. Those events of 2022 will have the positive effect of drastically purging the Web 3.0 ecosystem. Indeed, that phenomenon has already begun and is expected to continue through early 2023.

Fraudulent players with no added value or whose only business model is speculation will find it difficult to survive. That purge is ultimately a godsend, because from it will emerge players with proven resilience. Those will be safer potential partners for investors. And that is not the only factor that leads me to think that 2023 will be the ideal year to take an interest in, experiment with, and build Web 3.0. I also expect 2023 to be a year in which regulations are strengthened, both at the national level in France with the PSAN (Service Provider on Digital Assets) accreditation issued by the financial markets regulator (AMF), and at the European level, with the DORA and MiCA laws. This will restore the confidence of market players and investors and lay a solid foundation for the future.

And lastly, numerous experiments with Web 3.0 are already under way in many different companies. The findings from those experiments will highlight mistakes to be avoided and contribute to the establishment of better practices., and that knowledge will form the foundation on which future projects will be built. In this way, from multinational corporations to start-ups, from forerunners to followers, all will be impacted in one way or another by Web 3.0 and will have to come to grips with the subject as early as 2023 or risk being left behind. While we do not yet know just how far Web 3.0 will go, it is almost certain that it will sooner or later replace or at least compete with Web 2.0 companies.

This year promises to be perfect for designing and experimenting with decentralized initiatives, building on previous experiences, using Web 3.0 building blocks to develop hybrid projects or new usage cases, relying on an increasingly clear legal framework, and surrounding ourselves with reliable partners.

In conclusion, it is tempting to make an analogy with the speculative Internet bubble of 2000. As was then the case with Web 2.0, so now the foundations of Web 3.0 are well and truly laid, and all that remains is for you to make them yours.