The 10 most promising tools for Web 3.0 development 5 ways Web 3.0 will impact digital marketing

Top 8 Web 3.0 trends and predictions for 2024 and beyond

Despite blockchain hacks and cryptocurrency's legal troubles, development and adoption of the next major iteration of the World Wide Web is continuing to advance, albeit slowly.

In contrast to Web 2.0, the current iteration of the World Wide Web, Web 3.0 will be less controlled by large companies, enabling content creators to use decentralized social networks to profit more directly from their works. These works will often be paid for in cryptocurrency, their ownership verified by public entries on a blockchain.

At least that's been the vision of Web 3.0 proponents. This year, after a year and a half of blockchain hacks, cryptocurrency scams and lawsuits that shook confidence in Web 3.0's technical underpinnings, Web 3.0 adoption hasn't exactly accelerated, but it is continuing.

The following are eight Web 3.0 trends and predictions to watch:

1. Tokenization of real-world assets. This includes real-world assets such as real estate and agriculture and using blockchain technology to track them. "One of the big innovations of Web3 are tokens -- both fungible and non-fungible assets that are inherently unique -- and the ability to program them with smart contracts that track them," said Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. Litan sees a lot of movement globally, including in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where agriculture company Silal is working with nearly 1,000 farmers to track food.

2. More failures in the cryptocurrency industry. After a raucous 2022 for blockchain, cryptocurrency and other Web 3.0 technologies, Litan predicted at least one more cryptocurrency failure. Indeed, early in 2023, one of the biggest crypto lenders, Genesis Global Capital, filed for bankruptcy and then sued its former partner Gemini for nearly $700 million. Amid the human bad actors marring the crypto landscape, there is still a need for regulators to establish clear new regulations that they can enforce, Litan said.

3. Enterprise use of tokenization. Gartner is seeing growing use of tokenization for supply chain monitoring and financial applications, Litan said. As a foundational technology of Web 3.0, blockchain continues to drive many of its key features, such as the ability to "tokenize" assets and exchange them digitally in non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Graphic of blockchain trends.
As a foundational technology of Web 3.0, blockchain will drive many of its key features, such as cryptocurrency and decentralization.

4. Web 3.0 adoption slower than predicted. Gartner has revised its estimates and now predicts that 25% of enterprises will use centralized services wrapped around decentralized Web 3.0 applications by 2027 -- three years later than the previous prediction. Many Gartner clients reported their AI efforts now take precedence over Web 3.0, and this will continue to be true for the next few years, Litan said.

5. Convergence of simulated and real worlds. "Web 3 technologies are enhancing the way humans interact with each other and increasing the ability to create immersive experiences," said Scott Likens, global AI and U.S. innovation technology leader at consulting firm PwC. Though they are not strictly identical, the metaverse intersects with Web 3.0 technologies, expanding the possibility of a virtual world of social networks where individuals create and then own their works, as opposed to Web 2.0, where there tends to be centralized ownership of digital content. 

6. Ethics will be established for Web 3.0, increasing trust. The development of enforceable regulations will increase trust in new environments such as the metaverse and those created by Web 3.0, according to Likens. But trust is created by human emotions, so technical provisions by themselves -- in blockchain, for example -- won't carry the day. The idea behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency at its inception was that trust was built into the technology. There is transparency because everyone can see the transactions. But people seem to need more reassurance than that. "As enterprises, we have to create a trusted environment where people are responsible from the beginning, so our consumers know they can use this technology in a trusted way," Likens said. “We must be human-led and tech-powered to ensure that we continue to be leaders of technology and not just allow ourselves to be led by it.” 

7. Blockchain costs haven't dropped -- yet. Beyond the built-in cost of storing information on a server, there are additional costs relating specifically to blockchain. "Gas fees" refer to money paid to people who verify the addition of content or the additional transactions in the distributed ledgers that exist on a public blockchain. These fees have not come down as much as expected. But as the technology takes hold, costs are likely to begin to level off as more competition comes on the market, said Tom Taulli, author of How to Create a Web3 Startup: A Guide for Tomorrow's Breakout Companies.

8. High-profile consumer plays. Web 3.0 technologies are continuing to transform customer loyalty programs. Large companies in a variety of sectors are showing their "cool factor" by creating consumer experiences based on NFTs and cryptocurrency. For example, GQ released an NFT-linked magazine subscription in February 2023, while Sports Illustrated released an NFT ticketing program that May. Meanwhile, Starbucks launched its Odyssey Web 3.0 loyalty program in beta in October, rewarding its most loyal coffee drinkers for digital engagement.

Lauren Gibbons Paul has covered technology topics for IT publications including CIO, CSO, Computerworld, Network World and eWEEK for more than 20 years. She specializes in the application of technology to drive business value.

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