In an industry where innovation and disruption are the norm, Veronica Wong, CEO and Co-Founder of SafePal, offers a refreshing yet provocative perspective on the evolution and future of Web3. With a blend of realism and foresight, Wong dissects the Web3 landscape, emphasizing the need for a strategic balance between pioneering spirit and pragmatic application. Her insights challenge the status quo, advocating for a shift from the speculative, high-risk environment that has characterized much of the crypto and Web3 space, towards a more structured, user-centric approach.
Wong’s viewpoints extend across various facets of the Web3 ecosystem, from the necessity of deconstructing and rebuilding certain technologies for genuine progress, to a call for a reorientation towards real-world utilities over metaverse-centric projects. In her candid interview, she lays bare the complexities of regulatory compliance, sustainable business models, and the escalating competition among wallet providers. Through her experienced lens, Wong envisions a future where transparency, security, and user education are not just ideals, but integral components of a matured Web3 world.
With a decade of experience in the tech industry and a front-row seat in the evolving Web3 space, Wong’s insights are not just reflective but also forward-looking, offering valuable perspectives to both veterans and newcomers in the crypto world. Her interview is a compelling read for anyone interested in understanding the underlying currents shaping the future of Web3 and the role of innovative platforms like SafePal in this dynamic landscape.
I consider the current state of Web3 as a beta for the future, do you think there’s a need to deconstruct and rebuild certain aspects of this technology for substantial progress or build an entirely new ecosystem based on new standards? If so, what specific areas require this ‘regression’ to achieve true innovation?
I think we could do with less of an overly speculative and “ anything goes” approach, as crypto and Web3 doesn’t need to be like the wild west or a no-holds barred casino. While it does make Web3 fast paced and provide more freedom for experimentation, it also makes the industry more erratic, unreliable and more importantly unsafe for users.
We’ve had enough time to test new ideas and break things, now it’s time to slow down and focus on building stuff that is proven to work with a present need for — instead of jumping too far into the future and trying to predict and gamble on what will be the next big thing.
With tangible utilities like established payment systems and real-world assets gaining traction in crypto, do you foresee a shift in focus from intangible, metaverse-centric utilities to more grounded, real-world applications in Web3 development?
I do foresee this shift, especially with TVL for real world assets(RWAs) sitting at $5.7 Billion and projections for growth up to $10 Trillion. Considering the convenience and reliability provided by the immutability, transparency and borderlessness of crypto, there is tremendous room for expansion and development. We are also seeing hints of this shift in payment systems with Grab and Visa.
Especially with the bull market in 2022 and DeFi summer 2020, the crypto industry developed at a rapid pace and hasn’t had the time to develop a solid foundation yet. This isn’t to say that metaverse-centric utilities aren’t feasible, but there is a relatively niche demand for them while RWAs and payment systems serve a larger user base, and would thus be more feasible as the foundation for crypto adoption. Use cases of a more practical nature would also be more appealing for institutional investment and application, which would naturally translate to more liquidity and capital being deployed for them.
Metaverse utilities will definitely have their time though once a solid foundation for crypto and Web3 has been laid, as the unique and wackier aspects might be what distinguishes the industry from being a clone of traditional Fintech replicated on blockchain.
How do you envision regulatory compliance playing a role in shaping the backbone of crypto adoption, especially in the context of real-world asset integration within Web3 ecosystems?
While regulation may not always be good, as it may restrict the operation of businesses when being overly stringent or ambiguous — clear and transparent regulation makes it easier for businesses and projects to be compliant and grow, while making it safer for users by deterring bad actors and scammers.
Crypto projects and regulators need to see themselves as partners rather than enemies, as working together will mitigate malicious attacks and also likely help to ease the overly negative stigma associated with crypto being “ the wild west”.
In the long run this would also make the industry safer and more reliable, making security concerns less of a roadblock for users to adopt and use crypto.
In light of projects that prioritize overhyped tokenomics over actual value creation, how do you think sustainable business models will redefine the success criteria for crypto and Web3 ventures in a challenging economic landscape?
The challenging economic landscape has made VCs less “trigger happy” to deploy capital, and also more stringent in vetting projects to make the most of their liquidity and preserve their reputation.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; as projects with empty promises of wealth generation without genuine revenue sources or sustainable business models have been getting away with exit scams, ponzis and rugpulls for far too long.
Users are steadily learning to be more informed with their investment choices, and are asking questions beyond “ Will this project token make me rich?” and learning to research if the project has an actual product or service with feasible go-to-market strategies and proper treasury management.
Projects and builders will need to consistently bring value and establish a positive track record if they wish to thrive in the industry. This is also a trend I foresee for 2024.
The first thing is usability and applicability. While it sounds simple, executing and achieving this will still take a long time.It’s easy to fall into a trap and echo chamber of sorts after being in a fast paced and complex industry like Web3 for some time, but the needs and problems faced by veterans and new users are different.
Wallets need to build useful features to meet different user demands while keeping the products simple and easy to use, otherwise users will migrate to competitors. This poses consistent challenges for wallet builders in understanding users and product design, as it requires continuous efforts to execute and deliver results to meet ever-changing user demands.
The second is security. Web3 wallets are designed to store and protect valuable crypto assets. It takes a long time to build a solid brand reputation for a wallet by delivering safe products consistently — but all it takes is a successful hacking attack for this reputation to crumble quickly and users to flee.
Competition among wallets is thus complex and challenging as it takes strong commitment, user-centric spirit, adaptability and swift execution to successfully onboard and retain a large user base.
Given your experience with SafePal, how do you foresee crypto wallet providers adapting to the evolving demands of Web3 users, especially considering the increasing variety of wallet options and technological advancements?
I think it’s essential as a builder to be objective, open to adapt and understand what Web3 users need and want. While MPC and account abstraction(AA) provide interesting solutions, they have their own issues – with the former being too complex for the average user and the latter only being for EVM chains.
Despite being an externally owned account (EOA) wallet provider, we experiment with technology like MPC and are always ready to make the transition should the need arise. It’s crucial however not to get caught up with every trend and hype that comes along, and rationally assess and evaluate if the technology or application genuinely solves problems and meets user needs.
We are also actively improving the usability of our products, by enhancing the UI, features and functionality of our entire wallet suite while continuing to integrate more blockchains. Education for our users is also an important part of our efforts, as knowledge of security best practices is essential in self – custody and prevention against scams and malicious attacks.
The perfect Web3 wallet doesn’t exist yet, but we are definitely working towards creating it with SafePal — ultimately the ideal wallet should be as easy and seamless to use as ApplePay, but much more secure to truly onboard the masses.
From your perspective, if Web3 needs a complete overhaul, what fundamental aspects would you retain, and what would you radically change to align with a more sustainable and user-centric future?
Openness, transparency, and decentralization are the crown jewels of the Web3 ecosystem and I would retain them.
While Web3 is a permissionless ecosystem that welcomes participation from everyone, I think it’ll be nice if there could be a universal standard of security when it comes to DApp development. After witnessing so many scams and rug pulls, I yearn for a transparent and open security standard that will verify all existing Web3 applications and warn users if there are risks involved.
Due to the penchant for fortune-hunting in Web3, many new users come into the ecosystem without the necessary knowledge about key fundamentals such as decentralization, self-custody, and gas fees. It would be great if we could have a unified user-onboarding process that educates new users regarding all the important details before they make their first deposit. While this might be a hassle for some users and deter them from giving the technology a try, it could also eliminate a lot of the scam and phishing attack cases that are currently poisoning Web3.
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