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Development

What Is a Soulbound Token?

July 13, 2022
David Tilšer
Lead Blockchain Developer

If I told you that there is going to be something opposite to the NFT called SBT… What would you say?

In May 2022, E. Glen Weyl, Puja Ohlhaver, and Vitalik Buterin published a whitepaper titled Decentralized Society: Finding Web3's Soul. They represent the DeSoc (Decentralized Society) and the Soulbound Token (SBT).

Let's take a look at what a Soulbound Token is.

To explain the mechanics of a Soulbound Token, it is best to compare it to an NFT. If you own an NFT, you can sell it. You can send it to your friend. If you decide you want to buy an NFT, you can just buy it.

The idea behind SBT is that you can't buy it. You can't send it to anyone. Only someone else can issue an SBT to you - Soul accounts exclusively can issue SBTs to each other. The SBT can also be removed by the Soul account that issued it.

Let's summarize what a Soulbound Token is:

It can't be bought.

It cannot be sent to anyone (non-transferability).

It can only be issued by one Soul account to another (the idea is that users should have multiple Soul accounts, for example a medical, work, or education account, etc.).

It is possible to remove a Soulbound Token from the account that issued it.

As with the NFT, it is a blockchain token.

What are the use cases of Soulbound Tokens?

Education degrees

Imagine a world where you have a Soul titles account that would enable anyone to verify if you have actually graduated from a given school. There would be no need to prove your diploma validity. The diploma could not be falsified. It would simply be possible to confirm if a diploma was issued by, for example, Harvard University.

Certificates

After taking a course, you wouldn’t receive a paper certificate, but an SBT would be issued to your Soul account. Driver’s licenses, ID cards, etc. could all actually be SBTs. The state would have its own Soul account from which it would issue SBTs.

Medical records

In the case you change doctors, there would be no more need to forward your medical records from one doctor’s office to another. Instead, all of your medical information would be stored in your Soul health account - not accessible to the public, of course.

Job records

Imagine a digital resume with a confirmation of your job tenure from all the companies you’ve worked for. It would be impossible to introduce changes to the confirmations, so there would be no false information about past employers and experience.

A few more ideas

Birth certificates

Olympic medals

Criminal records

Albert loyalty points 🙂

Your imagination is really the only limitation to where and how such a token could be used.

What happens when you lose your Soul account

The solution could be the so-called social recovery. Simply speaking, it means choosing the people or organizations you trust in your immediate area. These entities will then own the private keys to your Soul account.

In the event that someone steals your account, the entities will be able to recover it. Of course, if they "died out,” you wouldn’t be able to get into the account. It is not a 100% problem free solution.

The Takeaway

If you're interested in SBT, be sure to read the above mentioned whitepaper.

The idea of SBT sounds very interesting to me and even though it might seem sci-fi now, I believe the future is digital and a fully digitalized world is inevitable.

So far, SBT exists as an idea and no technical details have been specified. According to an interview with Vitalik Buterin, SBT should appear at the end of 2022. Will it become another big trend? Who knows. But you definitely can’t go wrong by exploring SBTs now.

What do you think about SBT? Can you think of any other use cases for it? And can you imagine that it will become the norm over time?

Fun fact for the very end: As Vitalik Buterin revealed in one of his tweets, the name Soulbound comes from the game World of Warcraft.

Disclaimer

This article was originally published on David Tilšer ’s LinkedIn profile. Follow David on LinkedIn and Twitter for more blockchain insights and articles.

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