DeFi vs Web3 Explained: The Essential Guide to DeFi and Web3 Differences

February 12, 2024 by
DeFi vs Web3 Explained: The Essential Guide to DeFi and Web3 Differences
DxTalks, Ibrahim Kazeem

Decentralized finance (DeFi) and Web3 are two of the hottest topics in crypto and blockchain technology.

But what exactly do they mean, and how do they differ? In simple terms, DeFi refers to financial applications built on blockchain networks that aim to provide services without relying on traditional financial intermediaries like banks.

Web3 takes a broader view, envisioning a new Internet iteration in which blockchain and decentralization allow users more ownership and control.

This guide will explain DeFi and Web3 clearly in plain language, compare their key attributes, differences, and goals, and help you understand the relationship between these crucial concepts shaping the future of money and the Internet.

What is Web3, and How does it Work?

Web3 is like the next generation of the Internet, where things work in a more fair, open, and secure way. Instead of having big companies control everything, Web3 gives more power to individual users. Think of it as a big network where everyone has a say and can trust that things are done transparently.

To understand how Web3 works, let's compare it to how the Internet works now.

Right now, when you use the Internet, you usually rely on big companies, like Facebook or Google, to store your data. These companies have much control over what happens to your information, which can be risky.

But with Web3, things are different. It's built on blockchain technology, which is like a super secure digital ledger. This means that instead of relying on one central authority to store and manage data, information is stored across many computers in a decentralized way.

And this makes it much harder for anyone to tamper with or control the data.

One of the most well-known examples of Web3 in action is cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. These digital currencies operate on blockchain technology, allowing people to make transactions without needing a bank or other financial institution.

Instead, transactions are verified by a network of computers, making them more secure and transparent.

Web3 isn't just about money, though. It can also be used for things like decentralized social media platforms, where users have more control over their data and what they see.

For example, platforms like Steemit and Mastodon are built on Web3 principles, allowing users to earn rewards for their contributions and have more say in how the platform is run.

What is DeFi, and How Does it Work?

Decentralized Finance, or DeFi, is a modern financial system that operates without traditional intermediaries like banks. Instead, it relies on blockchain technology to facilitate transactions directly between users, making financial services more accessible and efficient for everyone.

At the heart of DeFi are smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code.

These contracts automatically execute and enforce transactions when predetermined conditions are met. For example, a smart contract could automatically transfer digital assets to a borrower once collateral is deposited in a decentralized lending platform.

DeFi applications encompass various financial services, including lending, borrowing, trading, and asset management. One of the most popular DeFi applications is decentralized exchanges (DEXs), where users can trade digital assets directly without needing a centralized intermediary. Uniswap and SushiSwap are examples of DEXs that have gained significant traction in the DeFi space.

Another key feature of DeFi is its permissionless nature, which means anyone with an internet connection can access these services without requiring approval from a central authority. This opens up financial opportunities to individuals who may be excluded from traditional banking systems due to factors like location or lack of documentation.

DeFi differs from Web3 in its focus on financial services, whereas Web3 encompasses a broader vision of a decentralized internet. While both rely on blockchain technology and smart contracts, Web3 extends beyond finance to include decentralized social networks, identity management systems, and more.

Web3 vs. DeFi: Key Differences Explained

The main difference between Web3 and DeFi is that Web3 refers to a new paradigm for the Internet where decentralized platforms and services replace the centralized Web 2.0 model, while DeFi is specifically about decentralizing finance.

While DeFi and Web3 overlap in their use of blockchain technology to remove intermediaries across networks, Web3 has a much broader scope. Web3 encompasses various use cases like decentralized social media platforms that use user data and governance, creator economy models where artists earn more, decentralized internet service infrastructures like storage and bandwidth, and user-directed marketplaces for trade.

On the other hand, DeFi focuses narrowly on rebuilding financial instruments without central bankers in a permissionless, global, and transparent manner powered by blockchain and smart contracts.

The scope is transforming existing lending, insurance, trading, and borrowing systems by connecting participants directly and eliminating inefficient financial gatekeepers.

Both Web3 and DeFi face challenges such as unfriendly regulations currently geared toward centralized systems, limited scalability, and user experience issues.

However, Web3, as the larger umbrella-aligned vision, encompasses various frontier use cases for decentralizing all sorts of internet services beyond just finance by shifting power back to users and communities.

DeFi addresses the specific multi-trillion-dollar opportunity to reform the exclusionary problems of contemporary finance by leveraging blockchain's game-changing qualities to serve users better.

Key Similar Features between Web3 and DeFi

Despite their differences, DeFi and Web3 share several common features that underpin their revolutionary potential.

1.              Decentralization:

Both DeFi and Web3 operate on decentralized principles, aiming to reduce reliance on central authorities. In DeFi, financial transactions occur directly between users, bypassing traditional intermediaries like banks. Similarly, Web3 promotes decentralized internet infrastructure, enabling users to control their data and digital interactions without relying on centralized platforms.

2.            Blockchain Technology:

Both DeFi and Web3 leverage blockchain technology as a foundational element. Blockchain ensures data transparency, security, and immutability in financial transactions (DeFi) and internet interactions (Web3). This technology facilitates trustless interactions and removes the need for intermediaries.

3.            Tokenization:

Tokenization is prevalent in both DeFi and Web3 ecosystems. In DeFi, tokens represent various assets like cryptocurrencies, stocks, or commodities, allowing for seamless trading and liquidity provision. Similarly, Web3 utilizes tokens to incentivize participation, reward content creators, and govern decentralized platforms, fostering community engagement and value creation.

4.           Interoperability:

Interoperability is a key aspect of DeFi and Web3 ecosystems. It enables seamless integration and interaction between decentralized applications (dApps) and protocols. This interoperability enhances the efficiency and usability of decentralized systems, promoting innovation and collaboration within the respective ecosystems.

5.            Community Governance:

Both DeFi and Web3 emphasize community-driven governance models, where stakeholders actively participate in decision-making processes. In DeFi, community governance determines protocol upgrades, fee structures, and asset listings. Similarly, Web3 platforms empower users to govern network rules, content moderation, and platform development, ensuring alignment with community values and interests.

Future of DeFi in Web3

The future of DeFi within Web3 holds immense promise, reshaping how we interact with money and the Internet.

In Web3, where decentralization reigns supreme, DeFi plays a pivotal role by offering financial services without relying on traditional intermediaries like banks. This opens up a world of opportunities for anyone with an internet connection, regardless of their location or background.

Just imagine a farmer in a remote village accessing loans or earning interest on their savings directly from their smartphone, bypassing the need for a physical bank branch.

Moreover, the integration of DeFi into Web3 ecosystems fosters innovation and collaboration. Smart contracts, a cornerstone of DeFi, automate transactions and eliminate the need for trust between parties, enhancing efficiency and security.

For instance, decentralized exchanges (DEXs) enable peer-to-peer trading of digital assets without a central authority, democratizing access to financial markets.

As Web3 continues to evolve, DeFi is set to become even more robust and inclusive. With ongoing advancements in blockchain technology and decentralized governance, the future of DeFi within Web3 promises a more accessible, transparent, and equitable financial landscape for all.


In essence, Web3 represents the broad concept of decentralizing the entire Internet to shift power from giant tech silos toward users and creators. It encompasses reimagining social media, marketplaces, creative economy, and infrastructure using blockchain's democratizing capabilities.

DeFi focuses specifically on decentralizing finance only - reinventing lending, investments, and other financial rails without banks controlling everything.

While part of the Web3 spectrum in utilizing blockchain for open coordination, DeFi addresses the multi-trillion-dollar opportunity in financial services ripe for disintermediation.

Together, Web3 and DeFi aim to build a user-first internet and financial system running on decentralized protocols and infrastructure rather than centralized giants extracting value. The next wave of innovation will leverage these models to reshape technology and finance for open participation.