NFTs and Digital Credentials are not the same but have been used interchangeably because they identify entities that exist in the digital world.
What are Digital Credentials?
Digital Credentials are proof of identity, information, skills, etc issued by educational institutions, training providers, and enterprises that are verifiable and exist digitally.
On the surface, they are no different from paper credentials – they provide proof of a piece of information that you might tell an organization or employer. But what makes them different, or should we say, better? In today’s world ruled by digital technologies, everyone expects you to be able to provide authentic proof instantly.
Online credentials are often categorized into these three types: digital badges, micro-credentials, and digital certificates. All three of them revolve around the same concept that digital credentials provide a better link to opportunities than current paper transcripts.
Digital certificates are non-material, and unlike paper certificates, they are easy to share and hard to misplace. Hyperstack allows organizations to create and store digital certificates on blockchain technologies to maintain security and adaptability and provide ownership to the individual upon completion of a degree or a course.
Academic institutions like community colleges, online course providers, or organizers of events and conferences are the most common organizations that provide digital badges. Digital badges are typically used for credentials that take a short time to learn. By accessing the information contained in the digital badge via a QR code or URL link, an interested party can verify and certify the acquired skills and identity of the holder.
Micro-credentials are certifications that certify the outcomes of a short course or module, which is assessed in a transparent manner. They allow for flexible, modular learning and can be used throughout the learner’s professional career. Sometimes they take the form of badges as well and sometimes are mistaken for them too.
What are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs, for short, are sensitive assets that have been substituted with non-sensitive information, such as a general identifier, in order to prevent unauthorized access and usage, also known as tokenization. This process is done via a blockchain and hence, is the reason why they’re highly secure. They differ from other tokens by having different metadata and unique identification codes.
Now, let’s put all the technical terms aside, and help you actually understand what an NFT actually is. Say you have a bitcoin, and you trade it for another bitcoin – you’ll have exactly the same thing, and this is called fungible. However, a rare quarter from the 1800s is completely different. Even if you trade it for another, newer quarter, the value isn’t the same. That quarter is non-fungible. Even though the value of the two quarters looks the same on paper, they aren’t.
Non-fungible tokens are a sort of identification system. They are almost like a contract or an ownership document, that identifies that you own something and that something is worth this much. Most NFTs are a part of the Ethereum Blockchain, and Ethereum keeps track of who’s holding and trading NFTs.
What do NFTs and Digital Credentials have in common?
Harnessing the potential of the digital world, both NFTs and Digital Credentials offer users enhanced security, flexibility, and opportunities for monetization.
NFTs provide owners with new revenue streams and avenues for monetizing their digital assets. For instance, a music band can create an exclusive single and sell it as an NFT, granting the new owner rights to all associated royalties. By leveraging the digital infrastructure, NFTs empower creators to capitalize on their work in unprecedented ways.
Similarly, Digital Credentials utilize the digital realm to eradicate the risks associated with physical credentials. By converting important qualifications into easily shareable digital formats, digital credentials ensure that essential credentials remain secure. Hyperstack specializes in this area and facilitates the conversion of physical identities into secure digital representations, offering credential owners a service for a fee.
Establishing Ownership and Verification
Both NFTs and Digital Credentials serve as means to establish unique identification and verify ownership or claims.
NFTs are commonly employed to represent singular works of art or collectibles, providing irrefutable proof of ownership for a specific entity. For example, an NFT can serve as evidence that Lisa is the legitimate owner of a collectible Pokemon card, affirming its authenticity and exclusive ownership.
On the other hand, digital credentials act as verification tools for claims made by entities. These claims may pertain to various credentials, including personally identifiable information (PII) and academic degrees. For instance, a gaming club can issue a digital credential to a person, validating their position as the head of their Pokemon meetup club.
The possibilities for Digital Credentials extend beyond these examples. It encompasses a broad range of use cases and credentials that can be verified.
Both NFTs and Digital Credentials prioritize the implementation of immutable records, bolstering the security of these tokens and credentials.
Through the application of advanced technologies, the records associated with NFTs and Digital Credentials are rendered immutable, meaning they cannot be altered or tampered with. This feature provides an additional layer of security, safeguarding the integrity and authenticity of the respective tokens and credentials.
How do NFTs and Digital Credentials differ?
NFTs and Digital Credentials share similarities in their utilization of the digital world and their ability to establish ownership. However, there are key differences that distinguish the two concepts.
Ownership and Uniqueness
NFTs are designed to represent unique digital assets, providing verifiable ownership and provenance. Each NFT is distinct and cannot be replicated. This allows for the creation and trade of one-of-a-kind digital items such as artwork, collectibles, or virtual real estate.
On the other hand, Digital Credentials serve as proof of qualifications or achievements, rather than representing unique assets. They verify the skills, knowledge, or certifications of an individual or organization, validating their expertise or educational background. Digital Credentials focus on the authenticity of the information rather than the uniqueness of the credential itself.
Value and Monetization
NFTs have gained significant attention due to their potential for value and monetization. As unique digital assets, NFTs can be bought, sold, and traded in online marketplaces. The value of an NFT is determined by factors such as scarcity, demand, and the perceived worth of the digital item it represents. This has led to high-profile sales and auctions, with some NFTs fetching millions of dollars.
Digital Credentials, on the other hand, are not typically associated with monetary value. While they hold significant value in terms of validating qualifications or achievements, their primary purpose is to provide proof and recognition rather than being tradable assets.
Technology and Infrastructure
NFTs leverage blockchain technology, a decentralized and transparent ledger, to ensure authenticity, provenance, and ownership. Blockchain provides a secure and tamper-proof system for recording and verifying transactions, making it well-suited for NFTs.
Digital Credentials can utilize various technological infrastructures, including both decentralized systems and traditional databases. They often rely on secure protocols and cryptographic mechanisms to ensure the integrity and validity of the credentials. While blockchain technology can be applied to Digital Credentials as well, it is not a mandatory requirement.
Interoperability and Standards
NFTs often lack interoperability, meaning they are typically limited to specific platforms or ecosystems. For example, an NFT created on one blockchain may not be compatible with another blockchain, restricting its transferability and accessibility across different marketplaces or platforms.
Digital Credentials, on the other hand, benefit from efforts to establish interoperability standards such as the W3C Verifiable Credentials specification. These standards aim to enable seamless sharing and verification of credentials across different systems, platforms, and organizations. Interoperability facilitates the portability and trustworthiness of Digital Credentials. It allows individuals to securely share their qualifications or achievements across various contexts.
NFTs are often perceived as digital assets primarily associated with speculative investments, collectibles, or unique digital experiences. Their value is derived from the emotional or cultural significance attributed to them by collectors and enthusiasts. While NFTs have garnered mainstream attention and generated substantial buzz, there are ongoing discussions surrounding their environmental impact and concerns about market volatility.
Digital Credentials, on the other hand, are primarily viewed as tools for trust, verification, and recognition. They serve the purpose of establishing credibility and demonstrating competence or qualifications in specific domains. Digital Credentials provide a standardized way to validate an individual’s skills, education, or professional achievements, offering trust and assurance to employers, institutions, or other relevant parties.
Applications and Industries
NFTs have gained prominence in creative industries such as art, music, gaming, and entertainment. Artists can tokenize their creations as NFTs, enabling direct sales to collectors and fans. Additionally, NFTs have found applications in virtual worlds, gaming assets, and even real estate transactions in the digital realm.
Digital Credentials find extensive use in education, professional certifications, employment, and other sectors that require proof of qualifications. They are employed by educational institutions, companies, and certification authorities to validate and verify individuals’ expertise, achievements, or credentials in a reliable and standardized manner.
While NFTs and Digital Credentials share the underlying principles of leveraging the digital world, establishing ownership, and utilizing technology, their focus, value proposition, and applications differ significantly. Understanding these distinctions is crucial to fully comprehend the unique capabilities and implications of each concept in their respective domains.
Although NFTs and Digital Credentials intersect in their utilization of the digital realm and their ability to establish ownership, they diverge significantly in their purpose, value, technology, and applications.
NFTs excel in representing unique digital assets, providing verifiable ownership and provenance through blockchain technology. Their value lies in their scarcity and the ability to monetize digital creations, leading to high-profile sales and auctions in various industries. NFTs have gained prominence in art, gaming, and collectibles, offering new avenues for creators and collectors to engage in a digital marketplace.
On the other hand, Digital Credentials serve as evidence of qualifications and achievements, validating individuals’ skills, education, or professional certifications. They rely on secure protocols and cryptographic mechanisms to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the credentials. Digital Credentials find extensive use in education, employment, and professional certifications, offering a standardized and trusted method of verification.
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