How Salesforce Centered Ethical Innovation in Its Web3 Launch
Today, Salesforce announced the limited general availability of Salesforce Web3, which will enable companies to sustainably mint, manage, and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on a trusted platform.
As businesses and brands explore emerging Web3 technologies, including NFTs, it’s imperative that everyone does so in a responsible, ethical way. Salesforce is no exception, which is why the company has centered its values as it developed, piloted, and launched this new product.
Why is Salesforce entering the Web3 space?
Salesforce has seen growing customer demand for NFTs as a way to build brand loyalty and consumer engagement. NFTs present an opportunity for companies to find new audiences and source zero-party data, and to unlock co-creation and co-ownership, token-gated communities, and personalized engagement using wallet data.
However, as with any early-stage technology, there are potential risks to safety, privacy, and trust. For example, in a recent survey conducted by Salesforce of 935 global respondents*, 59% reported experiencing or witnessing some type of fraud (the most common being fake accounts acting as a brand for the purposes of phishing). There was also a significant trust gap between those who have purchased an NFT in the past and those who have yet to do so. For these reasons, it was important that Salesforce provide customers with a trusted, sustainable platform to operate NFT campaigns and programs.
For these reasons, it was important that Salesforce provide customers with a trusted, sustainable platform to operate NFT campaigns and programs.
Putting values at the center of innovation
To develop Salesforce Web3, Salesforce engaged its Office of the Ethical and Humane Use, Technology (Product and Engineering), Sustainability, and Equality teams – as well as its Web3 Advisory Board – to understand the complex dynamics of Web3 and determine how to engage in this emerging space through a values-driven lens.
Together these teams developed five principles to guide their Web3 development efforts:
- Trust and Security. Embed best-in-class brand and consumer protections, identifying — and preventing the use of the product for — fraud, force, or fear.
- Sustainability. Minimize environmental impacts, disclose these impacts transparently, and neutralize residual carbon emissions while driving increased sustainability in the sector more broadly.
- Equality. Provide guidance and guardrails to ensure fairness, diversity, and empowerment of customers and consumers.
- Accountability. Empower the end user with explainable governance and engage stakeholders in ongoing evaluation.
- Integrity and Transparency. Share clear, precise communication about the product and create trusted experiences and marketplaces where safety is top of mind.
Putting principles into practice
Salesforce put these principles to work by building Trust and Sustainability features directly into the product. To do so, the Web3 product team partnered closely with Salesforce’s Ethical Use Advisory Council, external experts from academia and non-governmental organizations, and employees.
Some of the many trust features and functionality include:
- Automatically deploying audited smart contracts on leading blockchains to ensure contracts are safe from bugs and user errors.
- Proactively preventing Web3 fraud. Salesforce Web3 collaborates with partners to analyze, flag, and assign risk scores to crypto wallets suspected of harmful or illegal activity.
- Providing a secure, authenticated NFT checkout experience. First-party commerce sites help customers know they are buying NFTs from a safe, trusted source.
- Addressing best-in-class consent and privacy practices. Providing tools for customers to collect meaningful, informed and granular consent for the collection and use of consumer data, particularly in cases where Web2 and Web3 data may be combined.
Salesforce Web3 also delivers sustainable experiences for customers by:
- Not supporting proof-of-work blockchains. Salesforce Web3 only allows transactions to take place on more energy-efficient blockchains, like proof-of-stake, which emit 99%+ less carbon.
- Automating carbon emission calculations of potential blockchain options. The product will empower customers to offset emissions by purchasing carbon credits.
- Collaborating with Web3 sustainability and climate action leaders. Salesforce is a supporter of the Crypto Climate Accord to help accelerate sustainability in the Web3 space and drive positive impact beyond Salesforce Web3.
Customers pilot helps tests values-driven approach
To ensure these principals were met, Salesforce undertook a deep research process that included a successful customer pilot with over 275,000 transactions on Polygon and Flow. No fraudulent activity of any impact was discovered. Furthermore, Salesforce found:
- Customers are primarily viewing NFTs as a way to modernize loyalty programs and connect with consumers in Web3.
- The product’s built-in safety and trust features work as intended. But brands looking to enter Web3 should also consider whether they have the right systems and resources in place to protect their consumers — and brand — from post-drop fraudulent activity.
- As an emergent technology, Web3 has a steep learning curve. Brands need to commit to educating their marketing teams and consumers about the technology, its associated risks, and how to safely engage.
Exploring Web3 safely
These are still the early days of a rapidly evolving technological landscape — and Salesforce will continue to evolve and innovate along with it.
For example, Salesforce is currently exploring additional features that push the boundaries on privacy approaches that don’t simply replicate a Web2 privacy paradigm (e.g. box-checking for opt-in, cookies) but that are unique to Web3 (e.g. consent tokens or use of verifiable credentials). The promise of these and other innovations will deliver more trust for customers and consumers.
The promise of these and other innovations will deliver more trust for customers and consumers.
Salesforce does not have all the answers, but knows that by leading with values, it can help guide Web3 in a positive direction.
- For more information about Salesforce’s Web3 offerings, go here.
- Read about the vision for Salesforce Web3 here.
- Learn how the Salesforce Web3 Advisory Board Guides on Trust, Ethics, and Insights here.
*Data is from a double-blind survey of 935 consumers across 30 countries conducted by Salesforce Research November 7–28, 2022.