The internet took a wrong turn at some point in its development.
It became a siloed network whereby every application and platform was left to build and manage their own account and login systems for users.
There’s only one of me, yet I have 100s of accounts and profiles across the internet. As a result, we’re all left trying to remember 100s of passwords and then verifying who we are with SMS, authenticator apps, personal verification questions and alternative emails.
Even worse is when we’re forced to share our electrical bills and upload a selfie holding our drivers license and written word on paper… Is the internet really progressing or are we going backwards here?
There’s gotta be a better way!
Currently, there are tens of thousands of developers building out a new iteration of the internet called Web3. They are reconstructing the backend infrastructure so that the internet becomes permissionless, censorship resistant, trustless and, as we’ll discuss in this article, interoperable and composable.
On Web3, we will no longer “log in”, we will “connect”.
In Web2 we rent our profiles and accounts from the applications we use.
We are at the mercy of the corporation who owns the application and take on the risk that they could block or restrict our account whenever they please. This is also true of the “assets” we have within the applications. Our images, personal data, followers and content are all owned by the application, rather than the user.
As users of the internet, we don’t have our own profile or account. That part of the internet was never built. Instead we’re forced to create new accounts every time we use an application. In the physical world this would be akin to having to put on a certain outfit every time we enter a store, and then leaving that outfit there when we leave.
Before diving into the benefits or how this may work, it’s important to note that this technology already exists, albeit in a very nascent form. These accounts or profiles mentioned above are in the form of a non-custodial crypto wallet like MetaMask or Phantom crypto browser extensions, which you may already use today.
These crypto browser extensions are different from a crypto account on something like Coinbase or Binance as they are non-custodial. Meaning, the wallet is not owned by any corporation or application, not even the company who built the wallet and it is not tied to any one application. No one can alter, block or restrict a non-custodial wallet. Whereas your Coinbase or Binance account is simply an account inside an application, the same as your Facebook account.
How Web3 Wallets Will Work In the Future
For a user to begin using Web3 they first need to create a unique wallet (...aka account or profile). This wallet is non-custodial, exists only on your specific device and can be recovered only through some sort of biometric screening or social recovery of friends and family (today this is the equivalent to memorizing a 12-24 seed phrase, but I’m pretty confident that UX won’t last).
In this wallet you can update any personal information you choose, you can upload a unique avatar (a verified NFT that you own), connect a decentralized domain name (website/naming service owned and controlled by you), load the wallet with any digital assets you please as well as control what data you share publicly with any application or individual you interact with.
Once this is set up, whenever you want to use the internet, you simply log into this wallet and then move in and out of applications. All the information mentioned above moves with you from one application to another and anything you accumulate (followers, 5 star ratings, testimonials, rewards, etc.) or purchase (NFTs, digital goods, skins in games, etc.) within an application can move with you out of one application and into the next.
This is true interoperability and what the internet needs to create digital experiences more like the real world. Let’s take a look at some of the implications.
User Experience and Ownership With Web3 Wallets
- Users will only need to “login” to 1 account moving forward, the rest they will simply connect to.
- If required in the future (we’ll see how regulations unfold), you only need to verify or KYC (know your customer) your identity once. A new cryptographic technology called Zero-Knowledge Proofs will allow you to verify that you are the unique human you say you are, without actually providing any personal information whatsoever. Recently, a group of blockchain projects including Celo and Polygon launched a $7million dollar prize fund for developers who can create initiatives to "accelerate the future of zero-knowledge cryptography."
- Moving from one application to another becomes frictionless. Imagine your Twitter followers can be ported over to your Instagram seamlessly (Similar to how email works across gmail, outlook, etc.)
- Payments become seamless and without the need for trusted intermediaries across any application (ie. stripe, paypal, etc.) as your “bank account” is simply part of your non-custodial wallet.
- You own and custody all of your internet assets (similar to physical custody of cash or your passport) including, but not limited to: digital assets, data, identity, followers, personal/business ratings (think Airbnb or Uber) etc.
- Your privacy settings, notifications and other unique design or functionality you desire while using the internet may also be interoperable across each application.
- You control what personal or activity data applications or other users can see or use. One early example of this is the Brave Web Browser, where users can select if they want to receive ads from third parties, and are paid in cryptocurrency if they choose to do so.
- Since big corporations and governments will no longer have the ability to freely track and store your data, in the future you may have the opportunity to sell your data to them instead.
As we can see from the list above, this technology offers users more than just a simple login experience. Web3 puts control and ownership into the hands of the users and forces the corporations to do what's best for the users. If they choose not to, users can simply move to a competitor with essentially no friction.
I believe that this will have a massive impact on the relationship that businesses will have with their customers. Ultimately, creating a better user experience across the internet and potentially a more fair and community-driven digital experience.
This article is the 3rd part of our series exploring the future of Web3:
Part 1: What is Web3? The next internet revolution
Part 2: How Web3 is transforming business models as we know them
Where to learn more about Web3 and business models?
To learn more about Web3 or if you’re a creator, entrepreneur or marketer looking to use Web3, check out the following report written by Web3 Academy:
2022 Web3 Report: Community, Growth and Marketing in the New Internet
How Blockchain, NFTs, Tokens and the Metaverse are revolutionizing how we think about marketing and business models in 2022
This content is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. You should consult a qualified licensed advisor before engaging in any transaction.