Digital Dubai has just issued what it refers to as the world’s first secured digital certificates. The certificates are built using Soulbound Tokens (SBT) technology, an advanced next-generation non-fungible token (NFT).
“To digitize all aspects of life in the Emirate of Dubai, and provide integrated, comprehensive digital services, we need an impenetrable electronic security system that is capable of mitigating any potential risks,” said Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of Digital Dubai, in a press release.
But what are SBTs, and how are they better than the current certificates?
“Soulbound tokens are really just digital certificates about a person issued by a trusted source which can be relied upon, even in an open ecosystem,” explains Toby Rush, CEO at Redeem.xyz.
According to Rush you can think of NFTs as a trusted, immutable digital record or certificate. Details such as an individual’s date of birth, or their employment history and certification of skills are unique to an individual. Rush explains that by rolling these details inside NFTs, anyone can easily read this information and take action based on them because they can rely on the trust imbued by the blockchain.
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Put another way, Eric Jardine, Cybercrimes Research Lead at Chainalysis, says you can think of regular NFTs as a bill of ownership, that can be possessed, but also transferred, like when you sell your home and the deed changes hands.
On the other hand, SBT-based digital certificates, Jardine explains, would work more like permanent accreditation hosted on the blockchain and held in a person’s digital wallet.
New level of trust
Explaining the difference between regular e-certificates and SBTs, Caria Wei, CEO at NUVO, says that digital certificates are traditionally in the form of a digital image or PDF document that can be shared and displayed online, and often include metadata such as the issuer’s name, date of issuance, and details about the accomplishment or skill.
On the other hand, certificates in the form of SBTs are recorded and secured on the blockchain. This, Wei explains, makes them tamper-proof, verifiable, and unique to the individual who earns them, thereby adding a level of security and trust not found in regular digital certificates.
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“While regular e-certificates can be tampered with or forged, soulbound token badges are secured using blockchain technology and cannot be altered or duplicated without being detected. This makes them more trustworthy and reliable as a way of verifying accomplishments and skills,” stresses Wei.
Building on this Meir Dolev, Co-Founder & CTO at cyvers says SBTs revolutionize digital identities by ensuring secure verification without transfer, unlocking transformative use cases.
New use cases
One interesting use case for SBTs is gaming.
Looking at SBTs through the gaming lens, Assaf Cohen, Chief Operating Officer at Mighty Bear Games, says that SBTs enable individuals to build and own their in-game identities, which would help differentiate them from non-playable characters (NPCs) and other computer-generated digital characters, especially as the technology behind them becomes more advanced.
“Incorporating SBTs into the gaming sector could help thwart online identity-based scamming efforts, which are extremely costly to the individual consumer,” explains Cohen. “This is particularly relevant for kids engaging with digital entertainment, as they are the demographic most susceptible to identity theft and subsequent fraudulent activity.”
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Furthermore, on the topic of mitigating malicious activity, Cohen points to the market manipulation trick known as wash trading, which he says can be addressed with SBTs.
For instance, in a typical wash trading scam, malicious users use multiple wallets to artificially inflate the price of on-chain assets. Since SBTs are inherently bound to a sole person, it would create an extra layer of security against this type of scam, says Cohen.
Pointing to how they are already using SBTs at Mighty Bear Games, Cohen says they have other plans to use the technology in the future to enhance their community experience.