The writer is an investor in technology start-ups at Samos Investments
Web3, or the new Internet, is becoming mainstream. This new version of the web is built with blockchain technology, which is based on the concept of decentralization and allows for greater transparency. Blockchain supports digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The worlds of art, fashion, games and finance are already exploring the potential of this new field. Of Starbucks Launch Plans NFT for coffee drinkers to access Gucci “experiences” auctioning off an NFT to raise funds for Unicef USA.
However, the complexity of the space and lack of engineering skills to create tokens have been a barrier to participation – many people just don’t know where to start. I’m a late adopter, but I’m fascinated and decided I needed to learn a lot more.
A friend of mine told me about a community she was a part of called astro girls society. With a collection of 3,888 painted “Astro Girl” NFTs, it’s an initiative to attract women to Web3 and is the perfect place to learn from other NFT owners. Of course, the first condition to join was to buy an Astro Girl NFT, which I did through the NFT market. Open sea.
As a member, I have access to learning sessions. More importantly, the artists who design the NFTs receive a portion of the funds generated from their sale. But selecting an NFT is like choosing art: you won’t know if it will increase in value, so buy something you really like and give yourself access to a community that values it. Once I found the NFT I wanted (“Peaceful Saturn,” with purple hair and covered in stars), I purchased it using MetaMask, a cryptocurrency wallet. I was then accepted into the Astro Girls Discord channel, an online group hangout. And so the learning began.
The transition from the gaming world to web3 is probably the easiest for beginners to understand. Sandbox, started in 2012, is a gaming metaverse where players can create, own, and monetize their games. Sand, a utility token based on blockchain technology called Ethereum, is used for transactions and interactions.
For those struggling with the concept of real estate in the metaverse, Sandbox helps put it into context. You need to own digital land to build digital assets. If you have experience with Roblox or Minecraft online gaming platforms, it is similar to being responsible for creating a game patch that others can experience.
Web3 is also changing recruiting approaches. TechTree, a hiring marketplace, has created an online community for developers that encourages them to refer the best developers for jobs using “bounties” as a reward. For anyone tired of recruiters pocketing commissions, or referring friends for jobs and not getting rewarded, this is a solution. The platform makes you feel like you’re in the “metaverse” and rewards can be collected or given to a charity.
But the intersection between Web3 and finance is one that could really accelerate positive change, reducing inequality and increasing economic participation. For example, in Africa “the potential and importance of DeFi [decentralised finance] it cannot be underestimated,” says Yele Bademosi, co-founder of Nestcoin, a Nigerian company focused on making cryptocurrencies accessible.
Those in hard-to-reach communities don’t have access to bank accounts and other financial services, but Bademosi adds that anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone can access stable coins and savings accounts. Stablecoins are less volatile cryptocurrencies tied to an asset or fiat currency.
However, there are downsides. Some blockchains use algorithms that require enormous computing power and therefore consume a lot of energy. Also, while the blockchain is considered highly secure, it is not impenetrable. High-profile hacks include more than $300 million worth of ether, another cryptocurrency, stolen from wormholea bridge that facilitates the movement of cryptocurrencies from one blockchain to another.
These concerns should not be taken lightly, but the opportunity to redistribute power and expand access to finance, and even job opportunities, is exciting.