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


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

Nonetheless, the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem can’t assist easy contracts like an condominium lease as a result of it lacks a local Web3 id. This text goals to show how even modest advances towards social id illustration with soulbound tokens may circumvent these constraints and reroute Web3 to an genuine, extra transformational path. 

What are soulbound tokens (SBTs)?

Initiatives and use circumstances specializing in social identities and communities quite than simply cash are required for blockchains to be on the core of collaborative and engaging ecosystems. To deal with this difficulty, 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 accordance with the authors, soulbound tokens present the premise for a decentralized society (DeSoc), which is a co-determined sociality through 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 varied 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 confer with NFTs that may assist observe status and are added to addresses however can’t be bought. However what does “Souls” confer with in soulbound NFTs? The wallets or accounts to which SBTs or non-transferable tokens are completely certain are referred to as Souls. As an example, a Soul can characterize a person’s employment historical past, which could be self-certified much like data in a single’s curriculum vitae.  

However, when SBTs possessed by one Soul could 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 example, the Ethereum Basis is perhaps a Soul that awards SBTs to those that attended an Ethereum convention. In accordance with the paper, the idea of “plural community teams” refers to interactions and communications throughout the networks and are probably the most essential drivers of financial development.

How do soulbound tokens work?

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

Nonetheless, with SBTs representing one’s credentials, status will act as collateral to get an undercollateralized mortgage. Now, for those who recall the basic idea of NFTs, they characterize property or property with some financial worth. However, methods to confirm somebody’s status 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 group’s (DAO) voting system. Most DAO governance fashions assign voting energy based mostly on the variety of tokens held by a member. 

Nonetheless, DAOs issuing SBTs may prioritize status over tokens owned by a member. The status could be verified by way of customers’ interactions with the community. As an example, trophies earned from Kusama’s Governance Rewards program for each on-chain referendum member votes in can be utilized to characterize their status. 

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

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

Nonetheless, do soulbound tokens exist? There are a number of examples of how soulbound tokens could be utilized within the Web3 world, which is described within the beneath part. However. when will soulbound tokens be accessible? Binance Account Sure (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’ll function a digital verification resolution 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 circumstances. 

How can soulbound tokens be used?

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

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NFT possession

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

As an example, 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 comprises, establishing the legitimacy of the nonfungible token. In consequence, Souls would develop a publicly-verified, on-chain technique for staking and develop a status across the provenance and rarity of an merchandise.

Job vacancies

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


A consumer’s Web3 exercise could be tracked utilizing SBTs, which could be transformed into non-transferable status tokens inside game avatars that may solely be leveled up on this technique. This implies being Web3 citizen: You possibly can degree up as an alternative of enjoying the game, giving your avatar non-transferable expertise and expertise.

Verification of debtors’ credit score historical past

Conventional credit score experiences may be represented by SBTs, giving lenders entry to a borrower’s complete credit score profile. And, the SBT could also be changed by fee documentation or deleted as soon as the mortgage has been repaid. In consequence, folks can’t disguise 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. In its place, Souldrops could 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 stay 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 data is completely replicated on the blockchain, nobody can falsify it. Furthermore, any awards and certificates earned by a person could be publicly verifiable by way of SBTs. Moreover, since authenticity can’t be bought via soulbound tokens, it fosters confidence amongst tokenholders and most of the people.

Moreover, protocols will have the ability to test debtors’ credit score histories and consider their credit score scores to find out how a lot they’ll borrow, because of soulbound NFTs. Furthermore, SBTs limit Web3 initiatives from changing into a money bag by making digital representations non-tradable. That stated, a person can’t purchase NFTs; as an alternative, 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 will not be very best for SBTs as a result of lack of community restoration strategies. In consequence, community restoration wallets want all kinds of soulbound tokens dispersed all through a number of communities to get better misplaced Souls.

An answer to the above lies in a community restoration technique, through which a Soul’s personal keys could be obtained if consent by a professional majority of one of many communities (that the Soul belongs to) is obtained..

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

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

SBTs vs. NFTs

Nonfungible tokens could be purchased and bought by way of NFT marketplaces, whereas soulbound tokens are non-transferable NFTs as a result of they’re certain to the Soul. A abstract of the variations between SBTs and NFTs is listed within the desk beneath:

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. Subsequently, soulbound tokens are tied to a selected Soul handle and could be verified by way of on-chain credentials, limiting anybody from modifying them.

The way forward for soulbound tokens

The idea of soulbound tokens, regardless of being fascinating, is kind of new and can’t substitute the NFT ecosystem. As a substitute, it will probably serve as a substitute manner of id management, permitting DAOs, for example, to raised have interaction with their community members.

Nonetheless, 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 id tokens within the decentralized world. 

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