Block’s Mike Brock on 'Web5' and the role of digital identities

Episode 74 of Season 4 of The Scoop was recorded live at The Block headquarters with The Block's Frank Chaparro and TBD Lead at Block, Mike Brock.

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Block CEO Jack Dorsey has called 'Web5,' a decentralized identity platform under development by TBD, the Block's blockchain arm, "likely our most important contribution to the internet."

In this episode of The Scoop, TBD lead Mike Brock explains how Web5, whose name is a play on the idea of connecting Web2 and Web3, aims to reimagine the way trust is established and maintained, and how digital identity can connect the emerging decentralized financial system to the existing real-world economy.

Hardcore crypto proponents dream of creating a fully decentralized, trustless system. But Brock says there are some practical problems with transacting in such a world:

"Are you going to go and buy a gold watch from an anonymous online merchant and then send them a non-reversible payment for $10,000 and just hope that it gets drop-shipped to you?... We can't build an economy around that. We have to have a way to authenticate with the real world."

That's where the Web5 platform comes in. Brock describes it as a "messaging layer that ultimately allows you to establish secure transactions, with negotiated social trust."

Users of Web5 are in control of both their identities and their data — something Brock believes will facilitate a new way for the developing decentralized economy to connect with known, verifiable actors in the real world:

"We're trying to build on-ramps and off-ramps from the real world — fundamentally, that's what digital identity ultimately gets you."

During this episode, Chaparro and Brock also discuss:

  • The danger of 'hyperscale' Web2 platforms
  • The shortcomings of Web3
  • How Web5 helps prevent identity theft

This episode is brought to you by our sponsors Chainalysis & IWC Schaffhausen

About Chainalysis
Chainalysis is the leading blockchain data platform. We provide data, software, services, and research to government agencies, exchanges, financial institutions, and insurance and cybersecurity companies in over 60 countries. Backed by Accel, Addition, Benchmark, Coatue, Paradigm, Ribbit, and other leading firms in venture capital, Chainalysis builds trust in blockchains to promote more financial freedom with less risk. For more information, visit www.chainalysis.com.

About IWC Schaffhausen
IWC Schaffhausen is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Known for its unique engineering approach to watchmaking, IWC combines the best of human craftsmanship and creativity with cutting-edge technology and processes. With collections like the Portugieser and the Pilot’s Watches, the brand covers the whole spectrum from elegant timepieces to sports watches. For more information, visit IWC.com


© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Davis Quinton covers topics ranging from digital assets to financial markets as a Podcast Editorial Fellow at The Block. When the global pandemic disrupted his progression through law school in 2020, Davis discovered the digital asset space for the first time. Davis started at The Block in early 2022 and works closely with leaders across divisions to produce content for The Block’s flagship podcast, The Scoop. He previously held positions at Wells Fargo and Finsbury Glover Hering. He holds a degree in Social Research & Public Policy from New York University in Abu Dhabi.

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