There is good news and bad news.
The US-based consulting, analysis, and research firm Gartner publishes the hype cycle every year, which is the famous “S” shaped curve that maps all frontier technologies. The tool has become a must for any CEO and business person. In fact, it is a useful summary of the news to be aware of year after year, just to keep up with the progress of information technology.
The curve has a characteristic trend, following the typical evolution of any radical innovation, from its birth, to accelerated growth (hype, in fact), to a first drop due to the abandonment of speculators, once the bubble bursts, and then moving to a healthier phase of maturity and plateau, where concrete applications take root in society, at their natural penetration rate.
The internet followed the same course, complete with a bubble in the early 2000s, as we all remember well. Not all innovations survive the hype moment. In fact, the vast majority of new technologies defined as hype in the last fifteen years have never reached the masses.
In 2022, both the metaverse and Web3 appeared. Nfts, introduced in 2021, are already being placed in a declining trajectory, post-hype. The metaverse is given ten years to reach maturity. By double-clicking on the blockchain world, Gartner shows how cryptocurrencies, wallets, and decentralized apps are about to become commonplace, as they are about to walk towards maturity. Ultimately, Gartner’s litmus test looks at the current cryptocurrency crisis as a period of liberation from those actors who had jumped on the bandwagon only for speculative purposes or to take advantage of the poorly regulated market.
The game is not to bet on whether a particular use case will be successful or not. The key here is to understand the potential and risks of a frontier technology that can change our world. The imperative is to look innovation in the eye for what it is, without any fear and without false hopes. Now, beyond the predictions of this or that research institute, and beyond each of our feelings, there is good news and bad news for supporters of blockchain and Web3.
Let’s start with the bad news. Cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance, a more transparent and efficient supply chain, or marketing 2.0, as seen in the book, are still very niche phenomena.
If we add up all the assets managed in a decentralized manner on blockchain, globally, the entire market does not even reach the turnover of the thirtieth American bank (Andreessen Horowitz, 2022). The bad news is that we are talking about a niche, and it will remain so in the medium term.
The obstacles to overcome to take off this new world are not technological. The expansion of the network’s bandwidth and computational capacity, together with the minimization of costs and its energy intensity, are things that are being solved.
What needs to change is a consumer journey that is currently very difficult to follow, even for non-experts, but above all what needs to be introduced is a series of stricter rules to verify all actors along the supply chain of any business, up to the consumer, and then communicate to people clearly the contents and risks of any Web3 project.
In September 2022, the White House published a fact sheet, which presents a framework of recommendations and suggestions in the field of digital assets, financial and non-financial, as in the case of Nfts. The impressive note is the data, according to which one out of four cryptocurrency projects (new coin launches) does not have the minimum transparency and completeness requirements in information towards customers, therefore constituting a potential fraud, and providing, in all cases, partial communication to people; which is a crime, at least in the non-crypto financial world.
The bad news is: we are not there yet.
A cultural and regulatory change is needed, which does not go to harness innovation.
On the contrary, rules are needed to protect the weakest. Those who are on the margins of society have already been punished by the old financial system. Blockchain, Web3, and metaverse will never reach the masses without a simple interface, a culture of inclusion, and consolidated stress tests on financial operators. Why should we do all this work? Is it worth it?
So, we come to the good news.
For the first time in modern history, there is a system potentially capable of encompassing the entire human community in the same market, allowing people to make even tiny transactions, at low cost and safely, with the great plus of being the owners of their own information, kept in an individual and encrypted wallet.
The good news comes at a time of extreme division in the international community.
More and more nations are showing a divided public opinion and a youth incapable of programming their own future. Even in Italy, Covid has pushed a considerable slice of the population below the poverty line. The current national and international political debate focuses on divisive elements, from race to religion.
And this is where technology comes into play, creating efficiency and freeing up resources to mend the fractures in our community. In the confusion of the post-Covid era, the role of blockchain is to eliminate intermediaries, unnecessary duties or tariffs, and inefficiencies of the system.
Let’s close our eyes and imagine for a moment sitting on the edge of the community we belong to. The first step to start again would be access to the system, despite the few means available. The current political debate focuses on people’s emotions and stomachs. The good news is that this technology helps us tangibly change the lives of everyone, starting from their pockets, and especially from the periphery.
It’s all about me
This is not a vision of “dialectical materialism,” to use an 18th-century term, and this is not the creation of an ideology of the future. There is no need to set up an anti-system theory. Instead, we need to be very concrete. We need to talk about money, finance, and work, but also about people and respect. This is the urgency of our time.
If we had to choose a card to play today, it would be that of a fluid, digital, and inclusive economy, made of blockchain and metaverse. Technology is a tool, and it depends on how it is used.
Let’s decentralize the world if we want to save it. There is no need to abolish “capital” to steal the essence of Karl Marx’s creed. Capital in itself is not the problem. The problem is access.
We have never found a way to create a single market that truly caters to the periphery. The blockchain is precisely the tool of a dynamic Montessori method, with a finance tailored to the small, to be placed alongside the traditional financial network. Capital is needed, of course. It should not be destroyed or fought, but only decentralized, giving people full ownership of their actions and data, with a reward for every activity in the digital world.
The technology of the blockchain makes all of this possible because it removes every obstacle.
We can finally do it. The extraordinary opportunity of our time is simply wanting it, now that we have the means.