Move aside United States, India's economic needs and adoption of technology could make it a leader on Web3 inclusivity
Metaverse is passe! After the huge brouhaha created by the likes of Meta and Twitter about the worldwide web would pan out in the future. Concepts such as decentralization, blockchain and tokenization were bandied about in support of what has come to be known as Web3 technology. However, a new study thinks that India could be leading the charge on this front, not the US.
A report prepared by Nasscom says India’s rapid adoption of new-age technologies and the pool of skilled talent in the digital space could just prove to be the building blocks required to take over the Web3 development which is less about ownership and more about facilitation of ownership across the board.
The report says that there are more than 450 startups in the Web3 space as of end-June with investments worth more than $1.3 billion being pumped in since 2020. The report, titled The India Web3 Startup Landscape: An Emerging Technology Leadership Frontier – says a third of these came up over the past 12 months.
Web3 isn’t Metaverse or Cryptocurrency
“All this talk of Metaverse as an example of Web3 doesn’t sit well. When Zuckerberg’s Meta says they’re embracing Web3, it sounds a tad weird as the entire premise of this new bit revolves around decentralized data and content – something that none of the big tech companies adhere to,” says Anup Pai, co-founder of eSamudaay, which recently went public with its intention of using blockchain technology for governance.
Technologists believe that data and content got centralized with a small group of big-tech companies where the data owners got the least benefit. The term Web3 was coined in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, though the idea is often limited to cryptocurrency enthusiasts, large technology companies and venture capitalists.
Essentially, Web3 leverages peer-to-peer connect and decentralized infrastructure to deliver use cases that have been controlled centrally with opaque execution as evidenced in Web2. Which is why someone like Anup Pai is upset when Web3 gets equated to Metaverse or Crypto. “Both are just use cases and nothing more. True Web3 is still in the making and as it develops, we will see the playing field getting leveled out where technology benefits more people and now just those who own or copyright it,” he adds.
Step outside the known use-cases
Senior director and head of insights at Nasscom Achyuta Ghosh says most of the Web3 startups are in the B2B space and many are actually working on areas outside of cryptocurrency like the Decentralized finance and entertainment. The report says, while global response to Web3 is still evolving, India’s economic, demographic and technology adoption factors position it well to become a high-growth Web3 market.
Anup Pai agrees. His company eSamudaay is at the forefront of the decentralized digital economic model whereby they hope to get a capitalist in every city or town of India who sets up a local digital enterprise that digitizes the smallest of businesses and provides online payment and delivery options at the hyperlocal levels.
“As a partner of government’s Open Network of Digital Commerce (ONDC), we are committed to bringing the smallest of merchants and service providers into the digital economy where they can offer their products to the local community as well as to a broader network through the eSamudaay software offering that onboards them to be on the ONDC network,” he says.
Blockchain and transparency in governance
Both Anup Pai and the eSamudaay co-founder and CTO Ravinder Singh Mahori are convinced that blockchain technology is the way to go when it comes to managing governance. “In 2010, I took a look at blockchain, I didn’t get the idea of a currency without sovereign guarantee. Today, I see its use in decentralization as a social movement,” he says.
On his part, Ravinder Singh Mahori is convinced that the way eSamudaay has set up its business model, blockchain would prove to be the differentiator when it comes to managing all governance issues between the local digital entrepreneur, the merchants, the service providers and even the customers. “Tokenization is a concept whose time has come and I believe small community level enterprises would make the most use of it, once explained properly,” he adds.
Currently, Web3 startups in India have grown about six times since 2015. While 82% of these startups were in tier I towns, the tier II ecosystem was rapidly growing across various Web3 applications, says the Nasscom report. They are creating solutions across major application areas such as finance, decentralized communities, entertainment and infrastructure.
In fact, Ghosh agrees with the views held by Anup Pai and Ravinder Singh Mahori and says both government and industry must create and popularize low risk use cases that will help Web3 technologies gain widespread acceptance.