Web3 as a solution?
In this section, we discuss how Web3 can help address the challenges described above. We do not claim that Web3 technologies are exclusive solutions to these issues but see it as a complementary approach to the problems of Web2 Online Dating demonstrated above.
We believe that Web3 innovations in the field of Decentralized Identity (DID) and Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) will be the catalyst of the next Web3 Online Dating services. In Web2, data on personal identity is owned by centralized and siloed organizations such as Meta and Alphabet. To remind ourselves, it was Facebook that sold private user data to Cambridge Analytica in 2010 which exploited personal data of 87M people for political advertising purposes. The next generation of Online Dating services will use Web3 features in the area of decentral identities to address challenges discussed above and privacy issues that deal with issuance, acceptance, control, expiration, discoverability, searchability and trust of personal data.
Before we dive into the concrete application, we give an overview of the main streams of Web3 data and privacy solutions.
Decentralized Identity (DID) and Verifiable Credentials (VCs)
Web3 postulates that personal identity and associated data should be owned and controlled by the actual persons themselves via DIDs and VCs. This should be done in a decentralized manner without the need for a central registry. DIDs are unique identifiers that enable an entity to be identified in a manner that is verifiable and persistent (as long as the DID controller desires). They are like an alias for an Ethereum or Bitcoin address, PGP key, or other cryptographic identifiers that prove ownership and control over other identifiers and data. VCs are encrypted, tamper-proof messages written by one DID about another or itself. It is a W3C open standard for digital credentials that act as a badge or license.
Anyone can issue verifiable credentials about anything, and these credentials can be presented to and verified by anyone. The party that creates the credential is referred to as the issuer. The credential is subsequently provided to the holder, who stores it for future use. By presenting their credentials to a verifier, the holder can demonstrate something about themselves. Examples for VC claims include:
- Education: University degrees, certificates, courses
- Ownership: Bank account, citizenship, residence, property, car, assets
- Personal: Age, height, weight, blood type, job records, employment
- Events: Attendance of online and/or offline events or conferences
DIDs, VCs and Zero Knowledge Proofs
DIDs, VCs in conjunction with Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZK Proofs) can be very effective and efficient. ZK Proofs provide a means of validating data and communicating it with a third party without actually disclosing the data. In other words, it allows users to share sensitive information without sharing the data itself. Instead, a cryptographic proof is conveyed that proves the claim that is made and without leaking the data itself. Zero Knowledge Proofs effectively provide a riskless way to share data. To give an example, Alice could prove that she is Alice with her social security number by using a zk-SNARK (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). In this case, the verifier can never access the social security number.
Soulbound Tokens (SBTs)
SBTs, a concept invented by Vitalik Buterin, are non-transferable and public-verifiable non-fungible tokens that can be used for immutable records such as employment history, work experience, and academic credentials. Similar to VCs they act as Proof of Knowledge for credentials like education, professional records (as a digital resume), and mementos of attendance to major programs. As of now, there is no ERC standard for SBTs with most SBTs being built on ERC-721 with mintability and voting. Web3 builders like CAN focus on EIP-4671 (non-tradable tokens standard), EIP-4973 (account-bound tokens), EIP-5192 (minimal soulbound NFTs).
SBTs differ from DID & VCs such that SBTs are immutable, fully on-chain, and thus publicly visible with their verification taking place off-chain. Therefore, the fact that SBTs represent Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and ultimately all transactions are stored indefinitely on-chain has sparked quite a bit of controversy. Also, loss of keys could in theory lead to a loss of “soul” for which Buterin suggests implementing “guardians” that make sure keys could be recovered.
The advantages of VCs are that they offer interoperability, which means that they are not permanently tied to a specific blockchain. VCs also provide users with greater privacy since they can choose which information to store locally on their device or backup server, rather than permanently on the blockchain. In addition, VCs offer higher scalability since off-chain transactions reduce gas fees and overall costs.
On the other hand, SBTs have advantages of their own. Because SBTs are already on-chain, they can be easily integrated with existing protocols, making them highly composable. Furthermore, issuing entities can use regular smart contracts to verify certain criteria, which eliminates the need for a separate decentralized network to verify issuers, resulting in a more decentralized system.
POAP – Proof of Attendance
Launched in August 2021, POAP is a protocol that produces digital badges or collectibles. These collectibles, also known as POAPs, are created as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through the use of smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. They are ERC-721 tokens designed to commemorate and document event attendance. Their goal is to provide evidence that the holder was present at a specific event or conference. Since it is an NFT, the POAP can be easily transferred even though it has a unique serial number and is immutable itself. In the future, we expect POAPs to be combined with SBTs so that they become a more reliable proof of personal attendance.