Web3 Credentialing in a Global Work Environment
Web3 Credentialing in a Global Work Environment
As much as we'd all like to believe we can take people and their word at face value, and that every candidate that walks in for a job interview is as honorable as they project themselves to be, that's just not the reality of the situation as the new order of global work takes full flight.
But as rampant resumé fraud in the global workplace is – with over 55% of Americans claiming to have lied about their professional formation on their CVs at least once – credentialing or the process of vetting an individual's credential data can be tricky.
People have been faking their credentials to snag a job that has been around for as long as we've been working with resumés and CVs.
It has been (and still is, in some parts of the world) simple enough to forge or buy fake diplomas and avoid putting in any work in med or law school.
While the advent of the internet, on the other hand, has made it substantially easier to verify credentials in many ways, in others, it's made it more difficult to distinguish who's legit and who isn't.
Diploma mills and sketchy educational institutions offering certifications are real, therefore underlying the importance of verifying credentials in the workplace and the time and effort it takes to do them. Neither do the solutions presently existing in the current iteration of the internet (often referred to as web2) seem to be enough.
That is, until, the emergence of web3 and the disruptive potential of blockchain technology rearing its head across all sectors – including the verification of credential data.
Web2 Credential Issuance and its problems
Credentials have been traditionally controlled by centralized entities like governments and educational institutions, resulting in a reputation with broken links and no interoperability between the physical and digital realms we live in.
Suffice it to say, web2 credentials are prone to loss, misplacement, privacy infringement, security incidents, lack of interoperability and portability, and overall inefficiency in trying to obtain and keep them.
Credential data can be used, accessed, and sold without your consent. Web2 social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance, can sell off your data to the highest bidder, compromising your data and subjecting it to the whims of corporate leverage in the process. And since these corporations more about individuals and their browsing habits, they can scale to massive heights compared to competitors with fewer data about you.
Moreover, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes are inefficient, oftentimes requiring tedious repetitions of the same processes for businesses that require it, such as financial institutions, exchanges, and banks.
Finally, web2 credentials can be easily lost, and they take an inordinate amount of time and effort in order to replace. And as is typically the case in web2, credential data can be trapped within applications, belying an inherent lack of portability that may render them useless in virtual realms, such as the emerging metaverse.
Web3 In The New Era of Credential Data Ownership
In a world of remote work, Zoom calls, and flexible working arrangements, it's clear that the global workplace is evolving. One thing hasn't changed about work, though: and that's the need to be able to demonstrate the skills and competencies to prospective employers and verify that they are who they say they are.
There are multiple kinds of credentials out there that refer to certain milestones, achievements, or contributions from individuals.
Credentials are usually indicated on resumés and are usually granted as paper certificates from educational or training institutions, organizations, or governments.
Micro-credentials, on the other hand, refer to digital badges that prove you have completed a learning experience and/or have a certain degree of competency in a particular skill, issued by the same bodies.
Web2 changed how we process reputation in many ways. The internet made it possible to be credentialed and accredited as a professional without geographical restrictions.
Any professional accreditations you might have earned can be displayed as a digital badge on LinkedIn and shared with global audiences. Moreover, web2's centralized platforms enabled users to further their reputation by creating value-added user-generated content for worldwide audiences.
Regardless of which platform a creator chooses, the engagement that they earn in the form of views, reach, replies, likes, retweets, or followers are key performance indicators of their authority as a subject matter expert and competency as a professional.
In web2, data would build up on specific centralized platforms and end up getting trapped within the numerous application siloes. For instance, the clout you build on LinkedIn doesn't automatically carry over to your Twitter. All the content, likes, views, and followers remain siloed across the platforms you belong to, besides being owned by the companies that run them.
Web3 credentials are strictly better than traditional credentials, further iterating and building on the pain points that traditional credentials are associated with.
Web3, on the other hand, is redefining what credentialing might look like in the new internet age.
Let's see how web3 technologies can intersect to create a more dynamic, more accurate representation of reputation and identity along with use cases in the provenance of data ownership.
What are Web3 Credentials (And Why Are They Important)?
Web3 credentials are the next frontier of traditional credential data because they aren't controlled or issued by centralized entities and are issued in web3 media in the form of tokens.
Web3 credentials are represented by three main mediums: non-fungible tokens (NFTs) soulbound tokens (SBTs), and verifiable credentials (VCs). Each web3 credential has its own pros and cons. Let's take a look at each web3 credential and how they are defined.
Web3 credentials derive their provenance from being minted on-chain – that is, while they are similar to your conventional credentials earned by "proof of work," the "proof" for these web3 credentials can also represent the totality of an individual's contributions on-chain.
This may include the length of time a person provides liquidity to a liquidity pool, or the number of governance votes an individual makes as a member of a particular community. They could also represent useful off-chain data brought on-chain, such as a person's history of GitHub forks created, as well as contributions to community governance proposals.
People who have participated in web3 will be familiar with the Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP), which is basically a web3 credential in the form of an NFT that represents a person's attendance and participation in community events.
POAPs are public credential data, but there are other forms of digital credential data that may involve private data involved. Here are the three main types of web3 credentials.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
NFTs are unique digital identifiers that cannot be copied, changed, or subdivided that are minted and recorded on a blockchain. NFTs are used to certify the provenance, authenticity, and data ownership of a digital asset and the specific rights they pertain to.
Soulbound tokens (SBTs)
Soulbound tokens are another type of NFT that offers a non-transferable, non-destroyable, and non-sellable digital identity or attestation.
Soulbound NFTs or tokens allow users to verify their credentials, affiliations, and personally identifiable information using blockchain technology. Soulbound tokens have the potential to verify information such as a person's medical certificates, and educational and professional background, just to name a few.
They are a rather new concept introduced just last May 2022, but the idea has been around since April 2022, when the Account-Bound Token (ABT) was introduced.
Definitions for a "Non-Transferable Token" (NTT), on the other hand, have been around since July 2020, predating the idea of SBTs two years before they came to the fore.
Verifiable credentials (VCs)
Verifiable credentials (VCs) are another type of interoperable web3 credential that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed.
Decentralized identifiers (DIDs)
Another web3 credential made under the auspices of a W3C standard, decentralized identifiers refer to credentials controlled by one or more public keys.
DIDs are chain-agnostic credentials that can be used to sign attestations and manage contextual data like verifiable credentials off-chain or to link to on-chain data. DIDs enable users to create a more in-depth view of their on-chain identity across multiple chains.
Decentralized identifiers point the way toward a future where different types of credentials can be issued as verifiable credentials to a particular user's DID, with the DID representing the totality of their on-chain wallets and private keys.
Web3 credentials demonstrate symbols of our on-chain history and expertise, besides demonstrating our competencies in dealing with the new age of web3. Web3 credentials condense an individual's on-and-off-chain achievements into a succinct, sensible, and human-and-compute readable format for every user to understand – and they may very well become the new paradigm of credentialing in the post-web3 future.
Moreover, web3 credentialing enables protocols and their underlying communities to function based on the principle of trust, since their attributes allow them to serve as a method of building a person's digital reputation and social, yet decentralized identity based on contextually-relevant information.
Metacrafters Proof Of Learn NFT
At Metacrafters we developed a proof of learn (POL) non-fungible token (NFT) that allows individuals to demonstrate their learning and skills.
The POL NFT is a digital certificate that is stored on a blockchain and verifies that an individual has completed Metacrafter courses.
When going through our courses, not only will you learn from the best minds in the industry, but you will also complete your own projects. In addition with Metacrafters partnerships with notable employers and a strong brand name - it gives the holder a big advantage when looking for jobs.
This NFT can be easily shared with potential employers, allowing them to see an individual's educational credentials in a secure and transparent manner.
What Does Web3 Credentialing Fix?
Web3 credentials are fully owned and operated by your wallet and private keys, giving you complete and total control over who uses your data. Organizations and corporate entities will be required to be more transparent and open with what data they need and what they will use it for. As the global workforce transitions to flexible arrangements, this will be a central sticking point for individuals concerned with how centralized platforms use and access their own data.
Blockchain technology is also built to protect your credential data from hacking, with blockchains and verifiable credentials all being stored cryptographically on-chain. This makes your own data secure, tamper-proof, and resistant to security breaches. There is no singular point of failure on a centralized server that can be exploited when it comes to the distributed ledger.
The inherent composability of web3 credentials helps secure them from physical loss. Web3 credentials can be utilized in various combinations in meeting user requirements.
Various protocols and web3 communities can use web3 credentials to issue new ones based on prior data, such as credentials issued by other bodies.
Additionally, traditional credentials take time and effort to obtain, many of which cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the case of university degrees and professional training courses – with that number only expected to rise in the future.
Not surprisingly, the illicit credential market thrives as fraudulent academic documents and even vaccination certifications can be bought for a song. Web3 credentialing goes a long way in establishing the veracity of claims while making it nigh impossible to falsify claims because of the blockchain's immutability and public availability. It will take bad actors much more shrewdness to carry out schemes involving identity theft or social engineering to leverage credential data they manage to take from users.
Web3 credentials can be immediately verified to substantiate claims, with employers being able to see which skill was learned and if said skill was linked to the credential, allowing for skills to be measured and examined without the need for a centralized party's trust. That evens the playing field for professionals who are looking for careers in web3 but might lack the financial capability to pay for a full-fledged college education. The job market of the future may no longer be as heavily reliant on traditional credentials or if a professional is completely self-taught; web3 credentials provide a level playing field allowing people from unconventional educational backgrounds to enjoy the same likelihood of being hired as the next guy.
Lastly, web3 credentials fix inefficiency and the native lack of portability, because your credentials aren't just limited to use on one or several platforms – your digital identities and reputation will follow you to every platform you wish to participate in.
This reduces the need for tedious KYC procedures that web3 sites or decentralized apps might require. Moreover, web3 credentials are permanently verifiable on-chain – no singular entity can unilaterally edit, delete, or withhold your credentials after they are issued. The open, public nature of distributed ledgers makes them verifiable each time attestations are signed by public keys.
Ultimately, web3 credentialing is at its earliest stages of development. While more mature protocols continue to establish themselves as key elements of the decentralized identity and web3 credential stack, the fact is that the technologies comprising web3 credentials will only rise in prominence and use in the future considering their integral role in holding together the social fabric across industries.
Until today, the current state of the internet as we know it (web2) has remained largely unchanged, as it faces the constant task of safeguarding the integrity of users' personal data. The potential that web3 has in devolving the power back to the people as far as controlling, leveraging, and curating digital credentials is well on the way to coming to fruition with the power of web3-enabled credential data networks through NFTs, VCs, DIDs, and soulbound tokens.
Web3 is opening the gates to an era of credential data safety, giving us a taste of what the future of the internet might very well be as time goes by.