What are soulbound tokens (SBTs) and how do they work?

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By creating an alternate monetary system with extraordinary flexibility and innovation in lower than ten years, Web3 has astounded the globe. Financial and cryptographic primitives reminiscent of smart contracts and consensus mechanisms have helped to create an open-source system to conduct and authorize monetary transactions.

Nevertheless, the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem can not help simple contracts like an condo lease as a result of it lacks a local Web3 identity. This text goals to show how even modest advances towards social identification illustration with soulbound tokens might circumvent these constraints and reroute Web3 to an genuine, extra transformational path. 

What are soulbound tokens (SBTs)?

Tasks and use instances specializing in social identities and communities somewhat than simply cash are required for blockchains to be on the core of collaborative and interesting ecosystems. To deal with this concern, Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, together with Puja Ohlhaver, technique counsel at FlashBots, and E. Glen Weyl, political economist and social technologist, launched the idea of soulbound tokens in a paper titled “Decentralized Society: Discovering Web3’s Soul.”

In response to the authors, soulbound tokens present the idea for a decentralized society (DeSoc), which is a co-determined sociality during which communities and souls come collectively bottom-up as emergent options of each other to co-create plural community items and bits of intelligence at numerous scales. A soulbound token is a publicly verifiable and non-transferable nonfungible token (NFT) that represents a person’s credentials, affiliations and commitments. So, what’s a non-transferable token?

Non-transferable tokens discuss with NFTs that may assist monitor popularity and are added to addresses however can’t be offered. However what does “Souls” discuss with in soulbound NFTs? The wallets or accounts to which SBTs or non-transferable tokens are completely sure are known as Souls. As an illustration, a Soul can signify a person’s employment historical past, which will be self-certified just like info in a single’s curriculum vitae.  

However, when SBTs possessed by one Soul will be issued — or attested — by different Souls who’re counterparties (e.g., people or organizations) to those relationships, that’s when the mechanism’s true energy is revealed. As an illustration, the Ethereum Basis may be a Soul that awards SBTs to those that attended an Ethereum convention. In response to the paper, the idea of “plural community teams” refers to interactions and communications throughout the networks and are essentially the most essential drivers of financial development.

How do soulbound tokens work?

Soulbound tokens could help Web3 networks in utilizing non-transferable tokens as popularity indicators somewhat than relying upon money-centric frameworks to attain the identical. As an illustration, the lender at present verifies the borrower’s checking account balances, credit score scores and reimbursement historical past to supply an undercollateralized mortgage. 

Nevertheless, with SBTs representing one’s credentials, popularity will act as collateral to get an undercollateralized mortgage. Now, in the event you recall the fundamental concept of NFTs, they signify property or belongings with some financial worth. However, how one can confirm somebody’s popularity in a blockchain-based trustless system?

To grasp this idea and the working of SBTs within the Web3 area, let’s take an instance of a decentralized autonomous organization’s (DAO) voting system. Most DAO governance models assign voting energy based mostly on the variety of tokens held by a member. 

Nonetheless, DAOs issuing SBTs might prioritize popularity over tokens owned by a member. The popularity will be verified through customers’ interactions with the neighborhood. As an illustration, trophies earned from Kusama’s Governance Rewards program for each on-chain referendum member votes in can be utilized to signify their popularity. 

That mentioned, trophies function a visible illustration of a member’s on-chain exercise in Kusama and Polkadot DAOs, which can now be ample safety for an undercollateralized mortgage. Moreover, a reputation-based voting system could defend DAOs in opposition to Sybil assaults.

A Sybil assault includes a number of unhealthy actors taking management of nearly all of the governance tokens to redirect the mission’s course of their favor. Soulbound tokens being publicly verifiable, can defend DAOs from falling into the entice of unhealthy actors. As an illustration, souls holding respectable SBTs could also be assigned majority voting energy to guard the integrity of decentralized autonomous organizations.

Nevertheless, do soulbound tokens exist? There are just a few examples of how soulbound tokens will be utilized within the Web3 world, which is described within the under part. However. when will soulbound tokens be obtainable? Binance Account Bound (BAB) would be the first SBT issued on the BNB chain by Binance. The BAB token won’t have any financial worth and can’t be transferred.

It is going to function a digital verification answer for Binance prospects which have accomplished Know Your Buyer (KYC) necessities. Moreover, third-party protocols can make the most of BAB SBTs to facilitate DAO governance voting and airdrop, amongst different use instances. 

How can soulbound tokens be used?

In on a regular basis life, there are numerous use instances of SBTs in Web3, as defined under:

NFT possession

Artists can do away with dishonest people promoting NFT collections beneath the guise of well-known artists by linking soulbound tokens to their inventive profile. SBTs would enable patrons to hint the social provenance, whereas blockchain inclusion permits them to trace when a selected work was created. 

As an illustration, a tradeable NFT may very well be issued by an artist from their Soul to assist patrons acknowledge an artist’s work by the variety of soulbound tokens it accommodates, establishing the legitimacy of the nonfungible token. In consequence, Souls would develop a publicly-verified, on-chain technique for staking and develop a popularity across the provenance and rarity of an merchandise.

Job vacancies

Soulbound tokens representing a candidate’s academic credentials like diploma {and professional} certificates and former work historical past can be utilized as proof of ability to fulfill the human useful resource wants of a corporation.


A person’s Web3 exercise will be tracked utilizing SBTs, which will be transformed into non-transferable popularity tokens inside sport avatars that may solely be leveled up on this technique. This implies being an excellent Web3 citizen: You possibly can degree up as a substitute of enjoying the sport, giving your avatar non-transferable abilities and expertise.

Verification of debtors’ credit score historical past

Conventional credit score stories can also be represented by SBTs, giving lenders entry to a borrower’s entire credit score profile. And, the SBT could also be changed by cost documentation or deleted as soon as the mortgage has been repaid. In consequence, individuals can not cover their ongoing obligations.

Various use cases of soulbound tokens


Web3 has been primarily depending on token gross sales or airdrops to entice new communities, however each strategies present mediocre outcomes. Instead, Souldrops will be issued utilizing SBTs, for example, to builders with 5 out of the final 10 convention attendance soulbound tokens serving as a proof of attendance protocol (POAP). Individuals can use POAPs, a particular NFT, to show that they attended a dwell or recorded occasion.

What are the advantages of soulbound tokens?

One of many benefits of utilizing soulbound tokens for credential verification functions is that since info is completely replicated on the blockchain, nobody can falsify it. Furthermore, any awards and certificates earned by a person will be publicly verifiable through SBTs. Moreover, since authenticity can’t be bought by means of soulbound tokens, it fosters confidence amongst tokenholders and most of the people.

Moreover, protocols will have the ability to examine debtors’ credit score histories and consider their credit score scores to find out how a lot they will borrow, due to soulbound NFTs. Furthermore, SBTs limit Web3 initiatives from turning into a money bag by making digital representations non-tradable. That mentioned, a person can not purchase NFTs; as a substitute, they should put effort into incomes them.

Are there any dangers related to soulbound tokens?

Together with profitable benefits, soulbound tokens have some cons, too. For instance, the present pockets combine is probably not perfect for SBTs because of the lack of neighborhood restoration strategies. In consequence, neighborhood restoration wallets want all kinds of soulbound tokens dispersed all through a number of communities to recuperate misplaced Souls.

An answer to the above lies in a neighborhood restoration technique, during which a Soul’s personal keys will be obtained if consent by a certified majority of one of many communities (that the Soul belongs to) is acquired..

Nevertheless, some individuals or organizations may acknowledge pursuits that battle with their very own ideology, which might theoretically result in harassment, violence and even trolling, indicating a privateness concern as a person’s private info is uncovered.

Theoretically, SBT-based credit score techniques might result in dystopian ecosystems (the place freedom and unbiased thought is restricted) like China’s social credit system, the place particular social groupings are routinely excluded owing to the presence of particular soulbound tokens.

SBTs vs. NFTs

Nonfungible tokens will be purchased and offered through NFT marketplaces, whereas soulbound tokens are non-transferable NFTs as a result of they’re sure to the Soul. A abstract of the variations between SBTs and NFTs is listed within the desk under:

SBTs vs. NFTs

Though NFTs can’t be altered or duplicated, they’re simply transferable, which may very well be an issue if they’re utilized by somebody with entry authorization with out first being granted to a holder. Due to this fact, soulbound tokens are tied to a selected Soul deal with and will be verified through on-chain credentials, limiting anybody from modifying them.

The way forward for soulbound tokens

The idea of soulbound tokens, regardless of being attention-grabbing, is sort of new and can’t substitute the NFT ecosystem. As an alternative, it will possibly serve instead approach of identification management, permitting DAOs, for example, to higher interact with their neighborhood members.

Nevertheless, it stays to be seen if each SBTs and NFTs will co-exist till DeSoc turns into a actuality within the Web3 area or if SBTs alone can function digital identification tokens within the decentralized world.