What is POAP: Complete Explanation
Proof of Attendance Protocol, or POAP(Poh-App), is an Ethereum-based smart contract protocol used to manage tradable event tokens, reward distribution, and event attendance. It was designed in 2017 to overcome issues with the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus protocols previously used.
With POAPs, event coordinators/organizers can quickly put together an inexpensive method for managing events, fundraisers, and conventions. POAPs can be used both as the ticket for entrance and as rewards for engaging in event activities. They can even be used as a method for verifying academic credentials or securing digital signatures.
Think of POAPs as a digital badge replacement for plastic ID cards, name tags, paper tickets, or just about any paper tracking methods used between two or more parties. Instead of a plastic badge with an organization name and a barcode, event attendees would carry a token wallet with POAPs containing the metadata that event organizers need to keep everything on track. POAPs come with an extra bit of longevity as they are recorded transactions on the blockchain.
POAPs are an integral step in bringing together the metaverse and the physical world. While proof of attendance may seem trivial in some ways, it is the key to tying together actions in the real world with the underlying computing operations in the metaverse.
POAP: An Exact Definition
The Proof of Attendance Protocol is a set of instructions that utilizes blockchain smart contracts to allow for the secure and verifiable transmission of data between two or more parties. The protocol is primarily used with smart contracts using the cryptocurrency Ethereum. However, the concept is open to being adapted to any cryptocurrency blockchain with smart contracts with a little elbow grease.
The simplest way to describe POAPs is that it is a digital badge. Unlike physical badges, POAPs can hold changeable metadata that is also recorded on the blockchain ledger. As each change is recorded and open for anyone to view, POAPs can be considered reliable for use as credentials, security keys, event rewards, attendance tracking, and event activity tracking.
The idea may seem a bit complicated. In practice, it is rather simple. Everyone at any event or location that uses a POA Network is given a digital badge. Participants can share or access their badge with the QR code associated with it. Using their personal devices or an event distributed device, attendees just need to scan the QR code to see the information stored so far. Attendees’ POAPs are updated either remotely by location detection or they can scan the QR code provided at their current activity’s location.
The exclusivity of POAPs only being available to claim at physical locations and with specific time constraints adds inherent value to their collectability as a crypto token.
How Do POAPs Work?
To use POAPs, event coordinators will have to set up a POA (Proof of Attendance) Network app for the location. Upon entry, guests will have to register to the POA Network with their personal devices or an event-provided device. During check-in, attendees have their pictures taken to be associated with their POAP badge. Attendance can then be managed, timestamped, and updated on the blockchain through a POA Network application.
Data recorded on the POA Network has the same security and immutability as provided by any solid cryptocurrency blockchain. As everything is stored in a ‘public’ ledger, individuals can not fake or change records. Every 10 minutes, the POA Network application produces a new QR code that links to the updated/current state of events and activities. This QR code is typically published in an easily accessible area of the event so attendees can scan it without issue. This allows the event attendees to check into events on the go and access proof of attendance without a pile of papers or cards to keep safe.
At launch, POAPs were only minted on the Ethereum main net. In October 2020, POAPs were created and distributed on an ETH sidechain known as xDai. While ETH minting was efficient, xDai was designed for fast and inexpensive transactions. As POAPs are typically given out for free, the lower the cost is the better it works. Even better, POAPs can be migrated from XDai to ETH for a gas fee. Though, the gas fees for migrating a POAP can be rather expensive.
How Do You Create POAPs?
Before you start the process of creating a new POAP, you’ll need to make sure you have an image to put on it. Make sure the graphic file is in a PNG or APNG format that is no larger than 200 kb. It’s recommended to keep the image measurement to 500 x 500 pixels and it should be a round shape.
Once you have the image, head on over to the POA Backrooms. Then, click on “Create a new POAP”. The link will take you to the “Create Event” page. Fill out the forms with the requested details. It should only require a name for the POAP, an event description, and a location (virtual or physical). Next, check the box for the event length. If it’s a multi-day event, check the “Multi-Day Event” box. If the event is only during a single day, leave the box unchecked. Then, fill out the Start Date and End Date. You can also choose an Expiry Date that defines how long participants can claim the POAP.
If you have an event website, be sure to add the website URL in the correct form. Now, upload the PNG you prepared before starting. The last line is the number for the number of codes you need. Put in the amount you require and hit save. You should receive an email with your Edit Code and a second email with the claim codes for your POAP.
Where Did POAPs Originate From?
While POAPs didn’t come into fruition for seven more years, the idea was started in 2012 by Dan Novaes. Novaes thought of an idea that could utilize a blockchain-based application to reward people for the time they spend at any given event. It works something like video game achievements. If an event attendee showed up to a specific activity, they would be rewarded with a digital badge for doing so. If the event attendee stay for the entire activity, they would again be rewarded with a digital badge.
The concept evolved into a decentralized protocol named Proof of Attendance from the POA Network team. They were first used at the ETH Denver Convention in 2019. The event was largely supported by donations from crypto influencers and developers. To promote extra participation, the ETH Denver Convention organizers held a hackathon for event attendees. As a reward, participants were given a POAP token. As most crypto enthusiasts already have a vested interest in collecting crypto tokens and NFTs, the addition of event-specific digital badges to the mix added extra value for crypto influencers.
Just like any other crypto token, POAP transactions are recorded on a decentralized public ledger. This way, only event attendees can claim participation at specific or exclusive events. Any false claim can easily be disputed by browsing through the public ledger.
Currently, POA Network offers three different solutions for different event needs. The first is an open protocol intended for businesses or organizations to use as a basis to create/build a decentralized application for in-company use. The second is attendance tracking services that are only available for use by event organizers who can create custom digital badges stuffed with metadata like proof of attendance data or event activity participation on private POA blockchains. The last is a promotional subscription-based service called TokenClub.
TokenClub is an automatic service that sends event tickets, event badges, and other exclusive digital assets to its subscribers. The service acts as a way for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and influencers to get a hold of initial coin offerings, or ICOs, from new startups. Many ICOs can only be obtained by physical participation in an event or direct investment. TokenClub takes the work out of finding ICOs and instead charges a subscription fee to deposit new ICOs into its users’ crypto wallets.
What Are the Applications of POAPs?
Ultimately, POAPs can be used as a digital badge replacement for nearly every paper tracking system used at the workplace, events, conventions, or even at home. If there is a use for an ID badge, POAPs can become a way to replace it.
Event Tickets and Rewards
The concept of POAPs exists as a digital way to manage and distribute data about specific events and conventions. As shown during the launch of POAPs at the ETH Denver Convention, they can be used to store credentials, records, and participation information that can later be used to give out rewards or credit appearances.
As a digital badge, POAPs can carry any information that’s needed for an individual to show proof that they attended an event. It can even be used as a way to manage rewards for activities or as a clearance ID for specific activities within an event.
Collectables for Crypto Promotion
The value of cryptocurrency is determined by useable, trust, functionality, and scarcity. As so many different currencies are forming all around the world, new cryptocurrency communities often use collectible POAP tokens as a unique form of NFT. They are most often used as proof that an individual participated in an event or organization whether in the real world or the metaverse.
While this may sound like a ledger for bragging rights, it will eventually be much more than that. More specifically, POAPs must contain metadata that relates to a specific date or time up to a year, an image, and be minted through the official POAP smart contract. That extra bit of information is exactly what is needed for these tokens to have the potential use for much more than just a collectible token. With added data security of using decentralized blockchain ledgers, POAPs can be used as credential tokens for something like academic attendance with merit markings tracked. With so many trades using total training time as a metric for qualification, POAPs may be used as a way for more decentralized but impactful education opportunities.
Regardless, the rarity imposed by the time and location aspects of gaining POAPs is a great option for fundraising and growing community interest.
POAPs may also be a unique way to replace security clearance badges. The blockchain ledger allows for tighter security against false claims of clearance. With an immutable ledger, fake IDs can be sorted out and handled quickly.
The storage of metadata can allow for individual POAPs to grant separate facility access, completely replacing physical access cards that can be easily lost or stolen. As an image is required to be associated with a POAP token, employers can use the image for in-house facial tracking and as an added layer of security.
Online communities are often considered to be a bit anonymous, regardless of how true the statement is. User metrics can help to monitor forum participation, user contributions, and member engagement. POAPs are a more advanced method of adding to these metrics. With true timestamp information and the backing of a blockchain ledger, POAPs can provide an accurate representation of member contributions and participation. In development and investment communities, contributions are a form of merit that members give to help improve and grow the community.
With more accurate information, the community can more accurately reward its influential and productive members.
Examples of POAPs in the Real World
POAPs have already been given away at over 100 different community events like EthGlobal, Dappcon, and the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris. Thousands of POAPs have been claimed across all of these events which have created a provable record of attendance that is permanently stored on the blockchain.
Aside from event usage, several online crypto communities have taken to giving out POAPs as a way to engage the community members. DAOs like SushiSwap and ShapeShift hand out POAP badges at weekly community meetings, to AMA participants, and voters on governance proposals. They have even found a place in the metaverse as some ‘games’ or digital spaces like Decentraland give out POAPs to commemorate in-game events.
One strange occurrence happened during a transaction’s failure to mint. Stoner Cat launched an NFT project that saw users lose a combined $790,000 in gas fees due to a poorly written smart contract. As a way to make up for the mistake, Stoner Cat handed out a limited set of Rekt Stoner Cats Minters POAP along with a refund on the gas fees.