Web3 consists of frameworks and components that integrate the current “web” (i.e. the World Wide Web) into the block chain. It is not a replacement for the current Web (called Web2), but an extension. This enables what are called decentralized applications or dApps. A dApp runs on top of the Web3 stack which, in turn, can be built on top of Web2. This enables support for standard web protocols (e.g. HTTP) as an underlying layer for Web3 dApps.
Typically, Web3 connects users to the blockchain through their web browser or app. To support the existing web, it extends functionality with a Web3 stack. Developers can use the libraries that contain API modules to add Web3 integration with their own Web2 applications or dApps. The stack provides an abstraction to simplify the process, rather than requiring developers to build their own frameworks from scratch. Users can then use the web to connect to blockchains to access their digital assets like cryptocurrency.
The Web3 stack
The Web3 stack consists of the building blocks for creating dApps that connect users to their digital assets on a blockchain (e.g. Ethereum, BInance Smart Chain, Solana). There are different categories ranging from file storage, indexing, querying, off-chain protocols (layer 2 or L2), development frameworks, identity (i.e. wallets ) and oracles to name a few. These can be implemented as APIs that developers can use to call routines and methods to access a blockchain.
What differentiates Web3 from traditional Web (i.e. Web2) is the feature of decentralization. Web3 runs on an open source system in a distributed and decentralized network. dApps do not require a central server to run the code. In a decentralized system, the code runs on multiple nodes in the network without the need for a trusted central party. This means that it has the characteristics of being censorship-resistant, tamper-proof, and less prone to influence from Big Tech as it is not highly centralized.
The main component that developers add to give their web application Web3 compatibility is a wallet interface. The wallet creates an address for a user account, in order to access cryptocurrency assets. It’s like a username/password which is used in Web2, but with Web3 it uses a long hex address with a Private key. It looks complicated at first glance, but the concept is based on public key cryptography.
When opening the wallet, a user can always use a username/password combination. This is only part of the basic security for accessing a wallet, but there is another layer that defines who owns the wallet. Each wallet contains a private key, the custody of which is entrusted to the owner of the wallet. This allows transactions from the wallet account, such as when trading cryptocurrency.
In crypto, a wallet is not exactly how a traditional wallet works. It does not store cryptocurrency like a wallet holds cash. A wallet stores the private key, which is a cryptographic code that generates a digital signature unique to the user’s wallet. Whenever a user spends their cryptocurrency, such as in trading or sending to another user, their private key is used to properly authorize the transaction.
Each wallet contains a public address (i.e. a wallet address), which functions as the identification of the user account on the blockchain network. It is generated from the private key and is unique for each user. To receive or exchange cryptocurrency, a user must have a wallet address. It’s like an e-mail or postal address, used for routing to the right user.
The digital signature is what proves that the address really belongs to the owner of the wallet. When connecting a wallet to a website3, a user is often prompted to verify their identity. The user will sign a site message request, with the digital signature. If the digital signature is validated, the wallet is authorized to connect.
Browsers like Brave come with a built-in wallet for Web3 support. For other browsers (eg Chrome), the installation of an extension is required (eg Metamask, Trust). The advantage of web3 wallet extensions over browsers is that they can be used on many devices, from desktop computers to smartphones. This allows users different ways to access their digital assets on a blockchain.
NFT, game tokens, cryptocurrency
One of the most talked about platforms on the Web3 is the metaverse. There is no standard definition, as there is the Big Tech interpretation and the crypto definition. Although it features the integration of various technologies (e.g. AR, VR, 3D avatars), Big Tech’s version is a virtual world that enhances user experiences for gaming and entertainment. For crypto, the metaverse is about ownership of digital assets that can be tracked on various blockchains. These digital assets can be used in games, traded on markets, or purchased as collectibles to store value. Blockchain helps verify digital assets, like in-game purchases to validate ownership.
Digital assets used on the blockchain include NFTs (non-fungible tokens), gaming tokens (eg Mana, Gala, SAND) and cryptocurrency (eg ETH, SOL, BNB). Web3-enabled sites allow users to bring their digital assets into the metaverse. This could be accessing a digital exchange, an online game, or an e-commerce portal. This is done by simply connecting a wallet to grant access to users via their account address. NFT marketplaces (eg OpenSea, Rarible) are good examples of Web3 compatible sites.
The Web3 metaverse can be the same as the Big Tech metaverse, as an extension layer. Imagine being able to bring digital assets into a virtual world where users can interact and trade. An example is a virtual marketplace where users can trade or sell NFTs. Without Web3, a metaverse does not provide access to digital assets, so there is less utility in terms of value. Web3 brings the “Internet of Value” to the metaverse.
Gateway to DeFi
Another important feature of Web3 is to provide web users with a gateway to DeFi (decentralized finance). This opens the door to alternative financial services that users normally do not have access to. This includes crypto-collateralized loans, which allow users to borrow against the value of their cryptocurrency assets. Users can also stake tokens to earn more tokens by holding them for a certain period of time. For users who want to earn even more, yield farming pays off on a variety of DeFi instruments.
Web3-enabled sites in DeFi (e.g. Compound, Oasis App, AAVE) connect user wallets to smart contracts. These are programs that run code on the blockchain for DeFi services such as staking, providing liquidity, and token trading. Web3 simplifies the process for users, via a web interface. Without these sites, users would have to know how to access blockchain nodes and program code. This is much more complicated for the average user and may discourage the use of DeFi.
DeFi has been hyped but perhaps for the wrong reason. While this opens up new, more inclusive opportunities for users, it can also be risky. There have been users who have suffered rug pulls and other types of scams. Other times, users simply made the wrong decision to invest in projects that were too centralized and therefore doomed to failure. This is why it is important for users to do their own due diligence research in order to understand the different types of DeFi services and not lose a lot of money.
Another exciting platform on Web3 are GameFi systems. This combines the concept of gambling with DeFi. It introduces cryptocurrency monetized gaming, through a blockchain-based network. This means more fairness and data verification, thanks to a decentralized backend. The problem with a centralized game backend, which is controlled by the game developer, is that there is no guarantee of randomness or ownership of game assets. GameFi aims to address these issues while providing a system incentive that rewards players through monetization.
There are GameFi platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. Users can play games on these platforms from their browsers by connecting their wallets. Other GameFi apps require app download to play (e.g. Axie Infinity). The appeal of these games lies in the rewards that players can earn by playing. This uses a Play to win (P2E) model, but it requires upfront costs like buying tokens or NFTs to participate in a game.
With blockchain, gaming can be more transparent and fair. Evidence can be verified on-chain to prove ownership of game assets and credibility of data (e.g. scores, rewards, points). This helps when validating rewards earned in P2E games. Randomness can also be checked for fairness to assure players that there is no manipulation by the platform or game developers.
Web3 brings an extension of the internet or the web to the blockchain. Developers can use a development kit provided by blockchain companies or crypto projects to connect their applications to the blockchain. This requires the use of frameworks (ie development environments) and APIs for interoperability.
Users can experience Internet Of Value from Web3 based apps or dApps. It allows the transfer and exchange of digital assets such as cryptocurrency tokens and NFTs through a simple web interface. Web3 also makes blockchain-based applications more user-friendly, allowing more users to participate and derive more value from the network.
Disclaimer: This article is from a Web3 perspective. The information provided is for educational purposes only. DeFi and GameFi are not without risk. Do your due diligence in researching cryptocurrency.
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