In living ontology terms, it is created by factionally-defined transactions which apply epistemic filters to yield a distrust object in in/up/down/out form (whether or not such abstractions are applied within the faction). In the absence of an authority, this distrust and the distrust of the shared web of services that will verify the credential are combined in some way to decide whether the credential itself is believed to exist.
Within a faction, one defers to another with a more positive credential for the situation and style of capital at risk, that is, to one with more rank (which may be a calculation if the two (or more) involved are of different factions outside the situation). Between factions, emotion and multi-ontology sense-making may be required, e.g. inspection of unfamiliar credentials, perceived shared risk of bodily harm, to accept the credential even if it cannot be verified.
The distrust and due processing model minimizes use of positive credentials but can never completely eliminate them as long as authority or evidence/source/authority is involved in deciding what or who to cite rather than quote. A judge for instance will likely arbitrate contracts unless some other arbitrator is specified by both factions involved in a dispute.