What’s next for Web3? Web3 predictions for 2022
What are some of the things that might happen to Web3 in 2022? We gaze into the crystal ball…
Depending on who you talk to, Web3 is already making big changes in the way the internet operates. Others feel the impact of new technology on the way the web works has only just begun. Let’s fire up the crystal ball and seeing if we can make some Web3 predictions for 2022.
Before we start, though, let’s first take a look at what Web3 actually is. The basic idea is that the use of blockchain technology can help make the internet less centralised and allow people to take control of their data, grabbing it back from internet giants such as Google and Facebook.
This contrasts with earlier ‘versions’ of the internet: Web1, the original world wide web made up of ‘static‘ web pages, and Web 2.0, which saw the likes of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter enabling many more people to become creators, rather than simply consumers, of internet content, but still retaining ownership and control of those users’ data.
Web3, essentially, changes the online landscape by using the blockchain to store users’ data, which means it is decentralised, with no one Big Tech company having ownership of that data. So that’s the basics of Web3 explained: now let’s take a look at how things might develop over the next 12 months.
One of the big Web3 predictions for 2022 is that we will see more integration of regular apps and browsers with the blockchain.
The launch of Opera’s crypto browser project could could a stir. Opera itself is the web browser with the sixth highest market share, and clearly needs to find something to differentiate itself from its generally much larger rivals, such as Chrome, Safari and Firefox. So getting more involved with the crypto sphere and, by extension, Web3 is an interesting tactic.
The browser already has a VPN extension for people who want more security when it comes to surfing the web, but the organisation behind Opera argues that this latest development is the next step. The Opera wallet is designed to work with decentralised apps (DApps), as well as featuring “Crypto Corner”, which Opera touts as a place to get “the latest blockchain news, upcoming airdrops, an industry events calendar, NFTs, crypto communities, educational content, podcasts and videos as well as crypto prices, gas fees and market sentiment – all in one spot.”
This is not the first time that Opera has done something linked to crypto. It launched a crypto wallet extension for the browser in 2018. The new browser also has a built-in wallet, which people can access directly via the browser without having to download any additional software. It also lets users purchase crypto using traditional, or fiat, currency.
As of 26 January 2022, the crypto browser is available in beta form, and it is expected that it will be fully launched at some point later in the year.
One prediction certain to come true is big companies getting involved in Web3. While this will horrify blockchain purists, because the idea of Web3 is to free the web from the grasp of big business, the fact is that large companies know where there is money to be made.
This means that larger firms coming into Web3 and the blockchain is actually good news, because the more companies get involved, the more sustainable Web3 looks.
There are already a number of venture capital businesses who specialise in blockchain investments: organisations such as Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group and Plug and Play Tech Center are responsible for helping crypto entrepreneurs raise money for their projects.
This is a very traditional way of doing things, so do not be surprised if we see regular VC companies getting more and more involved in raising the cash for next-gen projects this year.
Big Tech crypto
Perhaps the biggest story that could happen in the crypto sphere and, by extension, Web3, would be the launch of Facebook’s stable coin, diem. This is something that has been followed by potential investors for a long time.
Unfortunately, at time of writing this particular scheme seems to be falling apart. According to Bloomberg, the Diem Organisation is looking to sell off its assets. This comes after a report from the US President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which suggests that stablecoins should be backed by banks. If and when those recommendations become law in the United States remains to be seen.
If this is it for Facebook and diem, it could have any number of ramifications. First, it could mean that Big Tech firms get put off the concept of making their own crypto, which could lead to potential investors staying away. It could lead to them forging partnerships with already established coins. If the second option happens, that could be very good news for some cryptos but, on the other hand, it could lead to a slimming of the market, at least as far as the larger cryptos are concerned.
Then again, the potential failure of diem could mean that other tech firms could learn from Facebook's mistakes and use them to make a new crypto which does not experience the problems that beset diem. It also seems very likely there will be a growth in crypto regulation this year, which could also change things.
YouTube and NFTs
On 25 January, news broke that YouTube could be getting involved with non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
These blockchain-based collectibles were one of the biggest stories in the crypto world throughout 2021, growing at an exponential rate. The video streaming giant’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said in a blog: “We’re also looking further ahead to the future and have been following everything happening in Web3 as a source of inspiration to continue innovating on YouTube.
“The past year in the world of crypto, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and even decentralised autonomous organizations (DAOs) has highlighted a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans. We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalise on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube,” said Wojcicki.
While there is no firm commitment to combining YouTube and NFTs, it is still notable that someone as senior as Wojcicki has hinted that such a thing could happen, combined with an acknowledgement that Web3 could influence what the platform does in the future.
Play-to-earn and the metaverse
Play-to-earn gaming – in which, as the name suggests, people earn crypto as they play – is a growing field, with many of the games taking place in the metaverse, an online virtual world. While 2021 saw the metaverse expand, it is worth noting what might be in the pipeline here in 2022.
There are a number of new metaverse projects coming up that might be worth taking note of. Cross The Ages aims to combine a modern NFT collection with the old-fashioned popularity of collectable cards, and should be going fully live later in the year, while Bit.Country wants to allow people to create their own metaverses.
As well as those, there are many other play-to-earn and metaverse projects in the pipeline, any one of which could become the next big thing.
One straw in the wind for the connection between so-called Big Tech and Web3 and the rise of play-to-earn is the news that, in January 2022, Ryan Wyatt, who had previously served as YouTube’s head of gaming, had left that role to become CEO of Polygon Studios, the content-based wing of the Polygon blockchain.
He told his Twitter followers: “I am fascinated by blockchain app development and am beyond thrilled to enter the Web3 space.”
We will have to see if others join Wyatt in jumping ship from traditional Big Tech firms to work on blockchain technology.
When is Web3 coming out?
Depending on who you talk to, it’s already here. Web3 is all about more and more people using blockchain technology to decentralise the internet and help keep their data private. There are many apps and other forms of tech doing that right now.
That said, the more traditional, centralised Web2.0 is still dominant, so it may well be some time before Web3 properly takes over.
What is Web3 used for?
Web3, or at least the idea behind it, is about decentralising the internet and keeping people’s data private, safe and secure.
Can I invest in Web3?
It depends on what you mean. If you mean Web3 as a vague concept, then you may as well ask if you can invest in the internet. If you mean the main nuts and bolts of Web3 – the various blockchains that, proponents hope, will bring about change – then one can invest in those blockchains by investing in their associated cryptocurrencies.
Just do your own research first, remembering that prices can go down as well as up and never investing more money than you can afford to lose.