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The next evolution of the internet, which incorporates decentralised blockchain technology, has the potential to transform our digital experiences and change the way we control and manage our data and assets. The potential benefits of Web3 are attracting significant investments from venture capital firms, and the increasing importance of our digital lives has led to a substantial increase in the amount of time people spend online.

We recently ran a session on incorporating purpose-led design into Web3 to ensure the technology is developed with sustainability and social impact, or at least from our perspective. We wanted to focus on creating products and services that benefit the environment, the economy, and society; purpose-led design can help maximise the benefits of Web3 while mitigating its potential drawbacks.

One of the critical advantages of Web3 is the ability to take out a loan against your future earnings potential. For example, if you are a freelance worker with a fluctuating income, you could use your future earning potential as collateral to secure a loan. This opens up new opportunities for those traditionally excluded from traditional banking systems, promoting financial inclusion and empowering individuals to manage their financial futures.

Another example of the potential impact of Web3 is in the art world. For example, an art museum could sell you a digital version of a physical artwork that updates as restorers learn new things about it. This adds a new level of interactivity for art lovers and creates a new marketplace for digital art, encouraging creativity and fostering a more sustainable art ecosystem.

Web3 also can change how we handle our financial assets. For instance, you could take out equity on your home without a bank’s approval. This opens up new opportunities for people to access capital without going through traditional banking systems, reducing the environmental impact of financial transactions and promoting economic growth.

Despite the potential benefits of Web3, some detractors argue that the systems being created are still centralised and that the need for interoperability among Web3 assets raises questions about the true nature of decentralisation. However, purpose-led design can address these concerns by prioritising decentralisation and creating solutions that empower users and promote equity.

A case study of Web3 and purpose-led design is the development of decentralised finance (DeFi) platforms. These platforms aim to provide financial services without intermediaries, using blockchain technology to enable users to lend, borrow, and trade assets directly. In addition, DeFi platforms exemplify purpose-led design principles in the Web3 ecosystem by focusing on user empowerment, transparency, and security.
According to a report by DappRadar, the total value locked in DeFi platforms reached $154 billion in 2021, showcasing the growing popularity of decentralised financial services. This growth can be attributed to the increased focus on purpose-led design in developing Web3 applications, prioritising user needs and sustainable development.

We can all play a crucial role in ensuring that the development of Web3 is sustainable, inclusive, and socially responsible. By focusing on creating solutions that benefit the environment, the economy, and society, purpose-led design can help maximise the benefits of Web3 while mitigating its potential drawbacks.

Businesses and brands need to start exploring the possibilities of Web3 and think about how they can incorporate decentralised technologies into their operations. This could be as simple as researching the benefits and limitations of Web3 or as complex as investing in blockchain-based solutions. Regardless of the approach, businesses and brands must stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the inevitable shift towards a user-owned internet that incorporates purpose-led design principles.