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Cryptocurrencies, the low-hanging fruit of the blockchain technology tree, have seen wider adoption when compared to other emerging blockchain fruits. Gartner predicts 20% of large enterprises will use digital currencies by 2024. However, new (or not-so-new now) on the horizon are NFTs, the metaverse and Web3 — which are becoming more mainstream. As blockchain technology continues to make more inroads into the enterprise and the buzz on NFTs, the metaverse and Web3 increases, Web3 innovators and stakeholders are increasingly gathering at events to discuss the spread, direction and impact of Web3.
One such event is CoinMarketCap’s “The Capital: Time to ship conference,” a virtual event hosted in the metaverse by CoinMarketCap (CMC). The two-day event, which was held on May 26th and 27th and cosponsored by industry giants like Trust Wallet, Klaytn, and Apollo X, among others, focused on metaverse, blockchain, NFTs and Web3, drawing blockchain and Web3 enthusiasts from across the world.
Keynote speakers at the conference included Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder and CEO at Binance, Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy, Jaynti Kanani, cofounder of Polygon, Sebastien Borget, cofounder and COO at Sandbox and others.
VentureBeat was on the ground to cover the event and drill deep into what Web3 and blockchain stakeholders consider to be use cases for the emergent virtual world. While one would think a conference like Time to ship wouldn’t feature cryptocurrencies so heavily on its agenda, since it was more about the metaverse, Web3 and NFTs, the opposite was the case. The conference began with Zhao delivering a keynote address on the state of crypto.
During his keynote address, Zhao touched on several sensitive issues including the Ronin Hack and how Binance helped Axie Infinity get back on its feet through a cash injection.
“Any single project failure has spillover effects on multiple fronts: investors lose confidence, the mainstream media paints a negative picture and, most importantly, people do get hurt. Most industry players do want to help each other out — especially when there’s a crisis,” said Zhao.
Speaking further on the role of Binance in the Twitter takeover, he said he wants Twitter to be the platform for free speech and would like to help the social network make the transition to Web3. Explaining market movement and the present bearish momentum that the cryptocurrency market is experiencing, he said there was an all-time high in 2013, an all-time high in 2017 and an all-time high in 2021, adding that there would always be lows in between, as historical numbers don’t predict the future.
Zhao’s views were mirrored by Saylor who, in his fireside chat on day 1, also broached the floundering state of the market from a psychological point of view. Speaking on his firm’s losses in the bear market, he said “trying to sell before a loss is a trader mentality.”
Decentralized finance gains new heights
Decentralized finance (DeFi) was at the center of discussion at the conference, with panel discussions around decentralized crypto exchanges (DEXs) and farm yield. Nikita Ovchinnik, chief business development officer at 1inch, said the loyalty of users helps to improve the onboarding process. He believes user loyalty can be a valuable asset during a crypto crisis (aka crypto winter) like the one being experienced now.
During a discussion on the Ethereum blockchain migration to proof of stake (PoS), Jan Liphardt, founder and chief technologist at Boba Network, said the chains offering only low cost will be in trouble, but chains that solve major gaps in the ecosystem like cross-chain transactions will thrive. Leo Chen, VP of engineering at Harmony Protocol, believes PoS is still in the early stages as a consensus mechanism and it hasn’t experienced a huge attack. PoS will introduce new challenges to the ecosystem, according to Chen.
Dan Roberts, editor-in-chief at Decrypt, said the crypto winter can be a good thing since it shifts the attention of people from material gains to building sustainable products.
NFTs and new use cases
Discussed at length and with new insights, NFTs were the darling of the CMC conference. With NFTs becoming a store of value during the lockdown and even after, it’s become imperative to check out new use cases and criteria believed to be key if NFTs must survive beyond the hype.
Speaking on the use cases of NFTs, Roneil Rumburg, cofounder and CEO at Audius, compared the technological advancement to hypertext in the early days of the internet. He said no one talks about hypertext now but the things this technology enabled, like Google, Amazon and Facebook.
The use case of virtual and in real life (vIRL) is slowly becoming commonplace, especially with the emergence of NFTs that allow you to own physical items without taking delivery of the said item. Owning a vIRL is having the option of selling, holding the NFT, or redeeming the physical item, enabling vIRLs to save the environment from excess shipping.
As the conference neared its end, Paul Caslin from Hello made a case for adoption, stating that while the metaverse can bring people together, most virtual worlds currently don’t bring mainstream audiences into the space and deliver entertainment that’s captivating. Perhaps this is proof that the metaverse isn’t near maturity yet?
While experts say technologies like AR, VR, blockchain, 5G and AI will converge to improve the metaverse, we’re barely scratching the surface. The potentials are undoubtedly huge, but it might take some celebrity firepower to spark conversations in new sectors of the endeavor. Like Caslin noted, the floodgates can be opened via different strategies, “…once it’s good for one person, it’s good for everyone. There are many people on the sidelines at the moment waiting to see what happens,” he said.