The European Commission (EC) has adopted a new strategy on Web4 and the virtual world, with the aim of guiding the next technological transformation and ensuring open, secure, trustworthy, fair and Inclusive digital environment.
Web4 echoes and overlays the Web3 term and will be part of a new Internet vision where virtual experiences, IoT and blockchain converge. The European Commission clarified what strategies and initiatives will be taken to engage the EU more in the world of Web4 technologies.
The definition of Web3 in the EU proposal is: “The main characteristics of the third-generation Internet Web3 are openness, decentralization and complete user sovereignty.” On the basis of the EU’s recognition of the current Web3 concept, digital and real objects and environments will be allowed The integration between human and machine is enhanced, which is called Web4.
In short, we can understand Web4 as an evolution of the concept of Web3, where IoT, Blockchain, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality converge.
The EU emphasizes that the Web 4.0 and Virtual Worlds initiative consists of four main pillars. The first three align with the pillars of the Digital EU 2030 project: human skills, business environment and public services. The fourth pillar includes the goals of infrastructure construction such as computing power and cloud, as well as the openness and global governance of Web 4.0 and the virtual world.
Although the European Commission also listed blockchain as one of the constituent technologies of Web4, the wording in the proposal is trusted blockchain, not the trustless zone native to and supported by the crypto world.
At the same time, the European Commission has not yet provided any details, such as how to combine all the technologies and give birth to the new narrative of Web4.
In this announcement of the Web4 strategy, a number of new initiatives were also revealed: First, the announcement proposes a plan inherent in Horizon Europe, called “Virtual World Partnership”, which is expected to be launched in 2025. The program’s goal is to develop an “industrial and technological roadmap for virtual worlds” by helping developers, creators, and companies that make extensive use of the Internet understand this new trend.
There will also be a need to test new solutions with all EU member states. A second project, called CitiVerse, is also envisioned, described as an urban virtual universe for alternative ways of managing and planning urban work and activity, without elaborating on who it will be aimed at. Finally, another idea put forward by the committee involves virtual replicas of European virtual human twins of the human body, which could help doctors study disease outbreaks and treatments.
Regarding the introduction of the new Web4 technological frontier, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: “Today, Europe is officially the world leader in Web 4 and the virtual world. Europe has what it takes to lead the next technological transformation.” conditions needed: innovative start-ups, rich creative content and industrial applications, a strong role as a global standard-setter, and a conducive and predictable legal framework.”
In the “EU Economic Outlook after 2030” released by the European Union in March, it emphasized that digitalization is one of its key drivers, and Web4 is a major technological transformation that will bring a seamlessly connected, intelligent and immersive world.
After opening the door to cryptocurrencies and blockchain with MiCA (Markets in Cryptoassets) approval in April, the European Commission now wants to go a step further and try to compete with American technological innovation.
Through these news, including this Web4 narrative, it is not difficult to see that the European regulatory framework is about to become one of the most permissive regulatory frameworks in the world in the field of cryptocurrency, and is willing to let the continent stand out in the context of new technologies. But it seems too early to talk about Web4 for the whole EU.
A June survey by Consensys (the parent company of MetaMask) found that only 8% of people across the EU thought they were familiar with the concept of Web3.
On the other hand, terms like blockchain, cryptocurrency, and DeFi are still foreign to the uninitiated and not yet understood by most. Understanding Web3 or Web4 remains a serious barrier to entry for a large number of people unfamiliar with the basics of virtual currencies. Many European centers such as Berlin, London and Lisbon are becoming crypto and blockchain epicenters, but the rest of the continent doesn’t even know what the word Crypto means.
After an overall understanding of the grand strategy of Web4 proposed by the European Union, let’s focus on which links will benefit the crypto market.
The European Union’s announcement on Web4 mentioned that blockchain technology can be used to manage assets in the virtual world, such as virtual currency or virtual real estate, and allow safe and transparent transactions within the virtual world. There are also many pages that mention virtual worlds, digital cities, etc., which are one of the most important future directions in the announcement. So this may be good news for the metaverse-related tracks.
Blockchain was mentioned 30 times, Crypto and related words 7 times, and NFT was mentioned 40 times in the EU proposal. In general, NFT is also a key area mentioned in this EU proposal. The article points out that NFTs are being widely used in various applications. It is recognized that NFT promotes innovation in content creation and provides opportunities for artists (and creators). NFT platforms connect artists (and creators) with potential buyers directly and at low cost. This consensus has been universalized.
In addition, the proposal also proposes a way to combine NFT and traditional business: “In fact, NFT has been introduced into new business models. NFT can also be used for sales in specific use cases such as sports, fashion, games, and music.” and event ticketing.” At present, the application of NFT+ traditional business has not yet been perfected, and this signal from the European Union may promote the development of this track.
The European Union threw out the concept of Web4 this time, and it seems that it wants to accelerate in the field of blockchain, so as to surpass Asia and America, which are constantly expanding in the field of infrastructure, so it plans to create locally and become a standard setter. However, the popularity of Web3 in Europe is still insufficient. It still takes time to observe the direction of Web4, which is only a concept first.
Although Web4 and Web3 are not closely related, the crypto track involved in the EU’s Web4-related construction may usher in an upsurge during the time when the EU takes the initiative.