Like most networks, the marketing industry is built on trust—between brands, agencies, platforms and consumers. What if the flimsy bet that is taking someone’s word could be replaced by something more robust? An incorruptible and provable certificate that verifies a claim, such as an agency’s engagement metrics, a brand’s standing with fans or its knowledge of what its base wants.
This is the concept underlying a soulbound token, or SBT—a non-transferable digital certificate that verifies a credential. The credential can basically denote any kind of information, such as an achievement, a recommendation or a medical record. Conceived earlier this year by a group including Vitalik Buterin—co-founder of popular blockchain Ethereum—the idea stems from “soulbound items” in the online video game World of Warcraft, which are priceless and can only be awarded, not found or bought.
Similarly, SBTs cannot be bought, sold or traded. Whoever receives it is the only person that can own it. While this differentiates them from NFTs—as well as the fact that they’re mostly conceptual at this point—SBTs share some characteristics: They’re non-fungible, meaning one of a kind, and live on a blockchain.
SBTs intend to solve the previous inability to verify, with 100% certainty, that someone’s credentials are truly theirs, short of calling up each and every party that issued those credentials. Employers or business partners must often take as word the information on candidates’ resumes and portfolios, while employees and consumers must do the same for companies that make their own claims, such as the completion of a sustainability goal.