Distributive policy

Can we lead Web 3.0 policy by example?

The term Web3 or Web 3.0 refers to mobile applications or Internet services developed using a decentralized technology called blockchain. | Representative picture

Web 3.0 is not just about cryptography. And Web 3.0 is not UPI. They are totally different products/concepts.

A recently popular quote from a tech leader in a business magazine has gone viral: “Meanwhile, while these same hypesters are now promoting a mystical internet world called Web3, India is rushing in and putting is delivering what the crypto crowd promised – with its UPI.”

What was probably intended to glorify one of our innovations (UPI) sadly colors the narratives around technological innovations and possibilities, as if the concept (Web3.0) did not exist. For an innovation to be popular, this does not mean that the others must be discarded.

We need to celebrate our innovations so far; but not at the cost of avoiding emerging technologies; potentially some of them could bring ingenuity to our industries and markets. Have we forgotten that the Adhaar framework had skeptics at the start? The same goes for the various conversations on UPI, RuPay, etc. If we had shared a similar skepticism around each of our India Digital Stack offerings at the time of their conception, we would not have innovated so brilliantly.

Is there a correlation between political will, political momentum and industry innovation turning into societal benefits? Researchers can probably easily defend this hypothesis with empirical evidence.

There is no doubt that India is at the forefront of digital innovation and low cost for high impact. That our policies have encouraged young entrepreneurs to use technology to try to solve everyday problems is well proven. We are celebrating Digital India week right now and its young voters who have shown their potential.

The digital revolution has triggered opportunities to shape societal narratives using emerging technologies. Yet the challenge is that until the technologies become commercially popular, it’s hard to imagine how they could solve human problems. Such is the fate of Web 3.0 for now. Calling him “overexcited” all of a sudden is far more dangerous.

Young population and digital opportunities

India is one of the fastest growing Internet consumer markets and has one of the most thriving pools of start-ups and developers across the globe. Web3, or Web 3.0, the next generation of the Internet, is conceptualized on blockchain or distributed ledger platforms, and involves the decentralization of the overall structure of the Internet. It is still in the development phase.

A recent report by the US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and Cross Tower estimates that Web 3.0 and digital assets could add $1.1 trillion to India’s GDP over the next decade.

With over 845 million internet users and 518 million social media users in 2021, India is the 2nd largest internet user in the world. By 2040, the total number of internet users in India is expected to exceed 1.53 billion and yet the overall demographics will remain productive with a median age of 35 years.

A look at the financial sector

If we look at the problems of the broader financial sector, we can see the need for rapid disintermediation and consumer empowerment. Years of attempts at financial inclusion using the physical distribution of financial products have not worked.

“Why are banks still struggling and unwilling to serve small entrepreneurs and businesses?”

“Why does it take 2-3 days for a stock transaction to close?” Whereas most stock markets are digital.

“Why are credit card access fees still expensive for sellers or merchants? »

“Why are regulators still concerned about the growth of FinTech? »

“Why does it seem that we celebrate traditional financial institutions, however poor their capabilities and financial impact on society?”

Another way to solve these problems is to consider using technology to solve them. Especially on the quality of what funding can do to transform citizens’ expectations. Needless to think about it, the usual industrial lobbying by central finance incumbents will continue. He could also use his network to spread fear about what could be short-term evils of technology enabling decentralization.

Governments and regulators will continue to have concerns about new technologies, including the fear of losing control.

“Will Web3 reduce government control over the regulation of financial institutions?”

“Will decentralization make it difficult for governments to regulate the internet and its platforms?”

“Will any of these technologies pose national security concerns or cause systemic issues?”

“Will they further complicate consumer protection issues and cyber risk issues? »

With our strong digital stack and political thinking, we look to proactive government and regulators to disrupt the status quo in the financial sector; and create stronger and more resilient financing mechanisms, for all. This would entail building capacity and capacity around digital thinking within regulatory bodies. This would propel us in the development of an inclusive democracy with greater chances of financial inclusion and better financial impact.

We have seen the global economy rapidly changing as FinTechs, using the digital stack, enable the adoption of cashless and virtual payment technologies. In India, the government itself has been the biggest proponent of cashless and digital. With the right regulatory outlook and continued support for the innovative use of technology in finance, India can pave the way for financial inclusion and impact.

The Internet companies Web 1 and Web 2 were largely Western-led and even influenced by them. Some of these major global platforms have influenced global social and political narratives. India did not have the economic clout or consumer influence necessary in the early years of the Internet to participate in shaping global Internet policy. India, with its huge youthful population and large consumer market, has the chance to take the lead on the global stage in shaping Web 3.0 policies and governance.

At least now, can we lead the political stewardship of Web 3.0? And don’t undermine its potential in the headline management rush. After all, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the digital possibilities – The Digital India Week we just celebrated!

The author is a business consultant and independent market commentator. His Twitter account is @ssmumbai

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