The Evolution and Coexistence of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0
Explore Web 3.0's user empowerment and the coexistence of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, revolutionizing the digital and financial landscape.
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Web 3.0 has grown in popularity over the last few years and has fast become a tool for the empowerment of users in regard to ownership and sharing of data. The premise is that Web 3.0 will bring back the digital industry to a decentralized model, driving forwards, monetization, ownership, and governance, that was not as prominent through Web 2.0’s centralized model.
The basic principles of technological evolution dictate that when a new model is created, it replaces the previous version; that’s precisely what happened between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. However, Web 3.0 will not follow the same pattern; instead, it has the potential to enhance instead of replace Web 2.0.
History of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Web 1.0 still exists today and is defined by static pages of information that are accessible to anyone with a PC and an internet connection. The browsing experience is not tailored to individuals, so the experience is the same for everyone. It is the pure form of conveying information to an individual. Examples of such sites that were created in this period are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape.
Web 2.0 revolutionized this by allowing users to interact with the information on the pages. The user experience evolved to having unique content generated for each individual, enabled by server-side scripting (e.g., PHP) and self-generated pages. This is where advertising, social media, and the exchange of information took off in a big way, creating tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google.
Web 3.0 To Coexist With Web 2.0
When we consider the underlying technology, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 are not so different. What sets them apart is the end-user experience and model of ownership. The fundamental distinction is that Web 2.0 focuses on users engaging with and creating content on monopolized platforms owned by large technology firms such as Meta, Google, and Amazon. In contrast, Web 3.0 focuses on these users creating the content but then having the rights of ownership over it, as well as a say in the direction of the platforms on which they share this content.
Web 3.0 creates a decentralized environment and builds upon the Web 2.0 creations of social media that facilitate information interchange amongst web users while simultaneously enhancing cybersecurity. It also aims to give higher levels of governance and ownership to the users, seemingly taking them out from under the ‘thumb’ of tech giants that could collect their information and monetize it. This could be shown in policies that could not be changed by the website developer only, but validated in cohorts with all the contributors, similarly to open source projects.
This is obviously a very attractive prospect to users. The current digital age sees privacy and ownership as key cultural topics, with the areas being brought into legislative matters. Despite this, the real debate will be between users and how they see personalization; as convenient or invasive. The foundation of digital personalization is beginning to be questioned, with some believing user content and search information should be owned by the user instead of being an asset for companies. However, there are others who don’t mind sharing data with companies to enhance their online experience, as indicated by 83% of respondents in a survey by Accenture. It is worth noting that respondents’ willingness to share data is dependent on companies’ transparency when it comes to how they collect and store the data.
What This Means for Financial Services
Financial services have evolved with Web 2.0, which allowed communities to form around products and services. Users can interact with each other and often trust customer reviews and private postings more than official information. Financial services and banks can portray an authentic and consistent brand and corporate culture through engagement and interaction with users. Through Web 2.0, banks can also offer new services and reach out to new customers.
You could say the financial industry is ahead of the trend, with community banks and credit unions largely conforming to what might be described as a Web 3.0 model. Members own their bank and have a say in its future, which is different from having a more traditional account at a major bank. DeFi aims to democratize finance by enhancing peer-to-peer relationships, providing a full range of financial services, including everyday banking, loans, and mortgages, as well as services like asset trading using blockchain technology. Further advancement in these areas then opens the industry to the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). DAOs are distributed communities that own governance tokens that verify their stake in the product on the blockchain or algorithms. Essentially, they lack a monolithic gatekeeper and are not influenced by a central government.
At the end of the day, what users want is a choice. To determine if Web 3.0 would replace Web 2.0, insight can be taken from innovation in the payment sector. Systems and solutions, such as PayPal and By-Now-Pay-Later, are a core part of the portfolio of multiple eCommerce sites. Yet, conventional payment systems that are long established in traditional retail trade in the physical world, such as cash on delivery, direct debit, and credit card, have continued to be popular options in B2C-commerce. They both exist in tandem, much like Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 can and most likely will.
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