The Block caught up with Renee Francis, Founder and Director of Take3, to discuss the transformative potential of Web3.
With a background in marketing and extensive experience with platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google, Francis offers a unique perspective on the issues that Web3 aims to address.
In this interview, she shares insights into the benefits of Web3, the challenges it faces, and her excitement for various projects in the space.
Data ownership and building communities
In the current Web2 landscape, large tech giants control users’ data and reap the rewards. Francis believes in Web3’s core mission to shift the power back to the people.
“While it’s really amazing the advancements that we have in being able to target people directly with messages that are relevant to them, I do take issue with who’s being paid for that data,” says Francis.
“Web3 offers this other way where users can actually be rewarded or incentivised for choosing whether they share their data, how much they share, and who they’re sharing it with.”
Francis also highlights a significant shift from building audiences to nurturing communities in Web3. Brands are moving from just one-way speaking to their audiences, to involving them in projects and decision-making through Web3 innovations like DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisations).
“Rather than a brand talking at an audience, we’re inviting communities to be involved in brands, be involved in projects, and invest in them as well,” explains Francis.
This shift to two-way dialogues and community involvement is a welcome change. Traditionally, users have become accustomed to a monologue style of communication from the businesses and platforms they engage with.
Division within the Web3 community itself has been a problem, with many so-called “maximalists” defending their favourite project and disregarding others.
“We’ve always got to have competitors in the market because that’s what drives innovation and drives things being better and more optimised,” says Francis.
Francis envisions a multi-chain future with interoperability, with each platform serving a unique purpose.
“I strongly support interoperability. I believe it will facilitate mass adoption by bringing more people together,” adds Francis.
Modernising the financial system
As with many, Francis’ journey into Web3 began with cryptocurrencies. She is a strong believer in Bitcoin’s potential as a store of value, particularly in a world with low interest rates and high inflation.
She acknowledges that Bitcoin might not become a universal currency, but sees it as a store-of-value and an alternative to traditional banking systems.
“There are just so many benefits around decentralised finance (DeFi) and opportunities that are opened up to people who don’t have access to banks,” says Francis.
To put the potential impact of DeFi in context, The World Bank estimates there are still around 1.7 billion people without a bank account.
Despite the potential benefits of DeFi and the wider Web3 industry, Francis acknowledges several challenges.
Education remains a key hurdle, with many people still uneducated or misinformed about cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
“We’re all conditioned as we grow up to rely on banks and rely on institutions. So, when I’m explaining to a newbie about self-custody, it scares a lot of people,” says Francis.
Negative incidents, such as the implosion of FTX, can also cast a shadow over the industry’s reputation.
“Some of the negative things that happen that make the news, obviously they put this bad light across the whole industry—so a lot of people still see it as very scammy and risky,” explains Francis.
“On the flipside, I see the fiat traditional monetary system as more risky for reasons that I’m sure you understand.”
Evolving regulatory landscape
The regulatory landscape is evolving. In Francis’ home country of Australia, the government is among those showing interest in the space.
“There’s a lot of talk around CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) in Australia. There’s a pilot project being run that seems like it’ll be implemented soon as well … it’s definitely part of the Australian government’s conversation at the moment,” comments Francis.
Francis believes that, while regulation is necessary, it should be implemented fairly to encourage innovation rather than stifle it. She also points out that the choice of terminology can impact public perception; with terms such as “crypto” and “NFT” (Non-Fungible Token) gaining a reputation for scams and shady practices.
The public often associates crypto with money laundering and the black market. However, research shows that illicit activity makes up less than one percent of transactions and cash is – by far – still the choice for criminals looking to cover their tracks.
In contrast to cash, blockchain transactions offer greater transparency. Digital ledgers give law enforcement agencies significantly more details regarding a transaction compared to one conducted with cash.
The US Department of Justice itself has stated that “cryptocurrency, despite the purported anonymity it grants criminals, provides law enforcement with an exceptional tracing tool: the blockchain.”
Similarly, NFTs have gained a reputation for what many would consider to be overpriced digital art.
As with baseball cards or anything else traditionally used for collection and/or speculative investments, it’s up to the market to price what it deems fair for such NFTs. However, the technology behind NFTs can provide more tangible benefits.
At their core, NFTs prove ownership. That indisputable ownership enables applications including enhanced loyalty/reward schemes, the granting of access to exclusive real-world items and venues, the transfer of digital items across gaming and metaverse experiences, and could even allow for the immutable recording of things such as land deeds to speed up real estate transactions and tackle corruption.
Solving real-world problems
Francis is generally enthusiastic about Web3 projects that solve clear real-world problems. For example, she mentions blockchain ticketing platforms as a solution to combat ticket scalping.
“I’m excited about blockchain ticketing platforms … it solves a really clear problem that we’ve had in the Web2 space for a while,” comments Francis.
“Late last year, it hit the news that people were trying to resell Taylor Swift tickets for $30,000 or something ridiculous—all I could think about at the time was: there is a solution for this.”
Another example of a Web2-era pain point that Francis believes can be solved with Web3 is content creation. Creators can use blockchain technology to protect their work and receive fair compensation.
“I work with content writers, I work with graphic designers… there are times when we have to hire actors or singers for events or ads and things like that, and I just think that they have such a unique skill set,” comments Francis.
“Some of them have worked on it for years or decades and I just think that they need to be correctly compensated. Blockchain is something that can help with that.”
These practical applications demonstrate the potential of Web3 to address everyday issues and represent the kinds of positive applications that can resonate with lawmakers and the wider public.
Driving innovation while addressing concerns
Francis highlights the Redbelly network as a prime example of balancing innovation with compliance. This Australian layer-one blockchain focuses on compliant asset tokenisation, demonstrating how Web3 can address regulatory concerns while driving innovation.
“The founder of Redbelly, Professor Vincent Gramoli, set out to see if they could develop an un-forkable blockchain… what they are doing is focusing on compliant asset tokenisation, which seems to be a gap in the market at the moment,” explains Francis.
“When you asked me that question about balancing innovation and creativity with compliance and regulation, Redbelly is the perfect example of that.”
Web3 holds significant potential to revolutionise data ownership, community engagement, and financial systems. However, addressing education and perception challenges remains a priority.
With passionate advocates like Francis, there’s little doubt Web3’s challenges can be addressed to unleash its benefits and usher in a better, fairer, and healthier future.
Check out Take3 to learn how to take your business from Web2 into the Web3 era.