SoulBound Token (SBT): The Future of Web3 credentials

By Destiny_ | destiny | 27 May 2022

Remember the Black Mirror episode "Nosedive"? If you are not familiar with it, the episode was about a world where people could rate each other according to the interactions they have. This rating defined their so-called status in the society. Apparently that's what vitalik is proposing. Welcome to the dystopia! But not really. This is not what SoulBound tokens are meant for (however it is being wrongfully taunted as that). The idea behind the SBTs really is intriguing.

SoulBound Token can be defined as a more specialized form of NFT in my opinion. Because they are Non-Fungible (just like NFT) but unlike NFTs, they cannot be traded or sold! Well, why would you buy a token that cannot be traded or sold (Remember Squid token)? You don't. You don't buy them. SoulBound tokens are earned by a person for doing part of their job or completing certain tasks. They represents "commitments, credentials, and affliations".


The accounts are referred to as "souls". These souls, you guessed it, represent an identity in real life. Each soul can have many SoulBound Tokens that are bounded to their identity. So, I can have my Master's degree as an SBT in my wallet. This master's degree will be provided to me by my college's Soul wallet. 

SoulBound tokens are not limited to only representing your educational degrees. They can do a lot more. They can be used to represent your employment history. Maybe you have published some articles, then hash of those articles can be turned into SBTs and stored in your account bounding those article digitally to your soul.

A good example in the 30 pages long paper published by Vitalik and co. is where an artist could issue the NFTs using their soul, hence binding those nfts with his identity. Furthermore, an artist can decide to issue an SBT that would link some of their NFT's into a collection. The artist can then define whatever scarcity or unique characters that he wants for the corresponding collection using the SBT.

The other great thing about SBTs is that even though they are not transferrable, they are revokable. What's so great about it? Well, imagine you have your qualifications, your employment history, your other great achievements, your credit score etc bounded to your soul using SBTs. You went to a bank to secure a loan. The banks can then provide you the loan looking at your SBT's. Then they can issue you the loan as an SBT. This SBT can be nested amongst your other SBT's. Pay the loan and the SBT will be revoked and maybe replaced with another SBT depicting proof of you repaying the loan. This SBT being publicly viewable provides an easy way to show that you have repayed the loan on time which helps you in getting the next loan easily and inverse is also true.

What if you lost your Soul?
Imagine having all your degrees, your emplyment history and all your publications as SBTs and then you lose your keys, You will basically be soulless. Social recovery is an option here. Loopring implemented Guardian based wallet recovery in their L2 smart wallet. It is better than no recovery but as the aforementioned paper points out, guardian can pass away, relationships sour or maybe your recovery guardian has simply fallen out of touch with you.

The paper provides an alternative way termed as "SBT community recovery". Basically, your soul recovery will depend on your current membership across various soul communites. A qualified majority of random member from Soul's community will be chosen, and a member of the community needs to consent for the recovery of your soul.

There is also something called "Souldrops" which is almost an upgraded version of "airdrop". So, instead of algrothimically airdropping tokens to a set of wallets (which is not really distributed because of the Sybil attack), souldrop allows you to perform computations of the SBTs held by souls and then provide them with your SBT or other tokens if they meet the requirements.

SoulBound Tokens, unlike NFT's, will be used to provide identities to the user in the Web3 world (hence the title). They are like NFT but they serve different purpose. SBT's will describe who a person is and their information in blockchain world. Hell, your Soul wallet and your SBT can be your digital CV. Instead of your hiring manager contacting your previous employer(s) and asking you to provide them with your educational details, they can simply ask you to show them your SBT's.

What about Spam?
Now that is the tricky part. What if someone bombards you with spam SBT's? Since, the SBTs are neither tradable nor sellable, you just cannot remove it from your soul. Since SBTs are in the invention phase, no concrete solution exists. The paper proposes that there can be a way to just hide certain SBTs from public viewing. There can also be a way to burn such SBTs at no gas fees.

Souls and SBTs also offers great potential to change DAOs for good. Currently, DAOs are vulnerable to sybil attack where same person will vote for their desired choice using many different wallets.

If SBTs are employed then possible bot accounts can be shunt out by looking at the SBT held by the Souls. Not only that but the souls with more reputable SBTs can be provided with higher voting power. Not only that but correlations can also be found out where low voting power will be provided to Souls with higher correlation. 
Why? well think about it, a group of Souls with highly correlated SBTs who are voting for the same option might be a Sybil attack. And even if it is not, it will show that this group of Souls are making the same error of judgement and/or share the same bias toward the options they are provided with.

SBTs are really nice concept but chances of it seeing mainstream adoption is quite low judging the current crypto market. Also, not everyone will be okay if all of their information is publicly available on the blockchain. How much information is to made available publicly is debatable but it will varie from person to person. Chances are that we can see the early version of SBTs by the end of this year. Time will show whether our souls will be tied to the blockchain or not!

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