Experts Think a Web3 Browser Sounds More Like a Gimmick

Bah humbug!

Key Takeaways

  • Opera has launched a new web browser to make blockchain-powered web3 more accessible to everyone.
  • Experts think it’s just Opera trying to capitalize on the buzz around cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
  • Several of Opera’s peers, including Firefox and Vivaldi, have distanced themselves from cryptocurrencies.
Webpage on Computer Monitor

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Opera has launched a new web browser, hailing it as a significant step towards experiencing web3, though some experts remain to be impressed.

The Crypto Browser Project, currently available in beta for Windows, macOS, and Android, claims to have web3 integrated at its core to essentially make it easier to buy and organize cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT). While some experts we spoke to praised Opera for being at the leading edge of the decentralized web movement, others were outright dismissive about the average desktop user ever needing a web3 browser.

"The average user doesn't need one and never will," Liam Dawe, owner of GamingOnLinux and a vocal critic of buzzword co-opting tech, told Lifewire over email. "Any time 'web3' becomes more than an idiotic buzzword used by crypto-bros, the actual main trustworthy browsers will implement anything as needed, and users likely won't be able to tell much of a difference."

New Browser for the New Web

Unlike the current iteration of the web that is served from centralized servers, the web3 movement essentially envisions the next version of the internet as distributed or decentralized across networks of computers. And most proponents of web3 agree the technology of choice for this decentralization would be blockchain, which they claim has proved its worth by decentralizing finance with cryptocurrencies. 

Opera claims its Crypto Browser Project is designed to cater to the sensibilities of this new blockchain-powered web3. 

"Opera's Crypto Browser Project promises a simpler, faster, more private web3 experience for users," said Jorgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile at Opera, in a press release. "It simplifies a web3 user experience that is often bewildering for mainstream users. Opera believes web3 has to be easy to use for the decentralized web to reach its full potential."

Opera's new Web3 Crypto browser encouraging a user to create a crypto wallet

Opera

The browser features a built-in non-custodial crypto wallet that lets people access crypto and use decentralized apps without using an extension. Furthermore, it promises easier access to cryptocurrency/NFT exchanges, support for decentralized apps (dApps), and more. 

Opera reasons that the current state of web3 affairs is too complicated for the average consumer and that its new Crypto Browser will make this new decentralized web more accessible.

"I would lie if I told you I knew much about Opera's intentions," Jᵾlien Genestoux, founder of the Unlock Protocol who collaborated with Opera on blockchain technology a few years ago, told Lifewire via direct messages on Twitter. "What I know is that they have been experimenting in the web3 space for a while, way before NFTs were cool and marketable."

Hogwash

Not everyone, however, is sold on the idea of web3 or Opera's intentions. 

Dawe thinks the release is just Opera trying hard to remain relevant "since Chrome basically took over everything" and thinks the move is little more than the company trying to capitalize on the buzz around NFTs and cryptocurrencies. 

"Companies like to talk about blockchain like it's some kind of magic," said Dawe. "Every argument on it is ridiculous. You only have to look at the reports of child abuse images being hidden in crypto blockchains. It will only continue to get worse."

Abstract image of blockchain formed by binaries and network on a dark background

Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

Dawe isn't alone. Just a week before Opera's announcement, its former CEO and co-founder, Jón Stephenson von Tetzchner, called cryptocurrency "a pyramid scheme." Tetzchner, who parted ways with Opera over a decade ago, and is now the CEO of the Vivaldi browser, expressed his displeasure with cryptocurrencies in a recent blog post, stating Vivaldi's official position on the decentralized currency.

"The entire crypto fantasy is designed to lure you into a system that is extremely inefficient, consumes vast amounts of energy, uses large amounts of hardware that could better be spent doing something else, and will quite often result in the average person losing any money they might put into it," wrote Tetzchner. 

I would lie if I told you I knew much about Opera's intentions.

Tetzchner added that while adding a crypto-wallet in the browser seems like a logical choice for anyone who still wants to dabble with cryptocurrencies, Vivaldi, in good conscience, cannot. 

Firefox maker Mozilla also recently suspended accepting donations in cryptocurrencies following criticism from several users, including co-founder Jamie Zawinski, who lambasted Mozilla for partnering with "planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters."

"Any company that jumps in with crypto and NFTs should have people stop and take a long look at them and what they're doing," warned Dawe. "The NFT and crypto markets are absolutely rammed full of fraud; it's reported constantly. There is nothing an NFT can do that needs to be an NFT."

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