POAPs: What Is a Proof of Attendance Protocol?

POAPs have emerged as a new way of keeping an immutable record of your life experiences, including virtual and in-person events.

AccessTimeIconFeb 22, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:03 p.m. UTC

Whether used as digital artwork, avatar or an in-game asset, the applications of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have grown exponentially over the past few years. However, one of the more pragmatic use cases that were introduced during ETHDenver in 2019 is called a Proof of Attendance Protocol – or “POAP” for short.

A Proof of Attendance Protocol (pronounced poh-ap) is a unique NFT given to people to commemorate and prove they attended an event (virtual or physical). Often referred to as "an ecosystem for the preservation of memories," over time people can accrue a collection of POAPs to document their physical life experiences and activity through cyberspace.

Attendees to Crypto State by CoinDesk, our virtual event that visits Southeast Asia on Feb. 24, will receive a POAP as a memento. Register here.

How POAPs work

In essence, POAPs can almost be thought of as an upgrade to “checking in” or tagging a location/person on social media, as users don’t reveal any sensitive personal data by doing so.

A few examples of events that gave out POAPs include EthGlobal, Dappcon and the Ethereum Community Conference in Paris. The metaverse ecosystem Decentraland also regularly sends POAPs to its users to help commemorate in-game events like the 10 million user party hosted by MetaMask in 2021.

Given the number of scams and knockoffs in cryptocurrency markets, for something to be vetted as a POAP, it must be minted (created) through the official POAP smart contract, contain metadata related to a specific time and date and also have an image associated with the event or community.

To help prevent the high price of gas (transaction fees) on the Ethereum mainnet, POAPs moved to the significantly cheaper and faster Ethereum sidechain called Gnosis Chain (formerly xDai) in October 2020. Due to the low fees on Gnosis, POAPs are usually distributed for free and displayed on the official app. As the underlying dynamics of Gnosis are compatible with Ethereum, collectors can still convert their POAPs to the Ethereum mainnet if they pay the required gas fees.

Why you’d want a POAP

Although growing a collection of POAP badges can help people show off their decentralized identities, holders can also benefit from added financial and community perks.

Some brands or DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) use POAPs to reward and build closer, long-term relationships with their most dedicated members. Bankless DAO, for example, airdropped tokens to the wallets of subscribers who had previously claimed Bankless POAPs. The added bonus, in this case, was that if a subscriber had collected more than one Bankless POAP, they could receive a larger portion of the airdrop (more tokens).

While more niche-specific, a POAP collection can also be viewed as a blockchain-style resume. As the underlying technology reflects immutable data, some employers may find POAPs a more credible, transparent way to view and track the support of potential applicants in a community.

Other benefits include aspects such as:

  • More privacy: Given the constant violation of user data by centralized tech giants like Meta and Google, privacy is becoming increasingly valued around the world. In contrast to the public nature of social media, the underlying cryptography and decentralized network of POAP allows for people to collect and store life moments without giving up their civil liberties. Despite the fact that some entities can still reverse-engineer IP addresses that are connected to public wallets, at the very least a POAP badge doesn’t divulge any sensitive personal information on its own.
  • No more cumbersome mailing lists: For event organizers, POAPs can be a better way to manage subscriptions. As users store POAPs for future value and wide-reaching potential, an organizer can feel confident knowing they have a direct line with their audience and attendees rather than wasting time on emails with low engagement rates.
  • Ownership of limited edition assets: Similar to how physical memorabilia like tickets to the first-ever Beatles concert have become highly prized collector's items, so too can POAPs gain value through being tied to the legacy of historical events and cultural milestones. In the context of the metaverse, POAPs related to foundational technologies like Ethereum and its early in-person events could be in high demand due to the nostalgia and meaning shared between core contributors.

How do you claim a POAP and show it off?

Claiming a POAP is fairly simple. As per the POAP FAQ, there are several options available depending on the type of event:

  • Batch delivery of badges: If people entered their Ethereum wallet address when signing up, the organizer will airdrop (automatically send) the badge to them.
  • Manual sending: An organizer can scan your wallet QR code for physical events and instantly send you the POAP badge.
  • Self-service claim: Another method is to have attendees claim their POAP via an intranet-only decentralized application (dapp) or secure Wi-Fi network. They will then be prompted with instructions on how to complete the process.

Generally, people can either scan a QR code or click a link on the webpage that has created the POAP. They will then need to enter an Ethereum wallet address to receive it.

Once received, badges can be viewed on POAP scan or any interface that supports Etherscan or OpenSea by typing the Ethereum wallet address or directly linking MetaMask, WalletConnect or Portis. For mobile devices, collections can be viewed on the POAP App on iOS or Android. Once a wallet is connected, people can then share their POAPs on a range of supported social platforms, including Twitter, Reddit or Telegram.

An official guide has also been created for directly viewing POAPs on MetaMask rather than through POAP scan.

Do POAPs have value?

Ever since the POAP project launched on Gnosis Chain (xDai) in October 2020, its value has grown significantly across several ecosystems. Platforms like SushiSwap distribute badges to engage with members who attend weekly community meetings, participate in ask me anything (AMA) sessions or vote on governance proposals (a method that helps a group of people determine the direction of a decentralized network or organization). With that said, POAPs also have wider growth potential with suggested applications like social graphs and helping to better reflect online identities.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has alluded to POAP playing a more prominent role in the future with the mainnet.

How to set up a POAP for events

A detailed step-by-step guide on how to set up POAPs for events can be found on the official website. We’ve also provided a summarized version below:

  1. To start, you will need a graphic file in PNG or APNG format that doesn't exceed 200 kilobytes (KB) in size. The suggested dimensions are 500 x 500 pixels. The shape of the file should be round.
  2. Follow the POAP BackOffice link and click on the "Create new POAP" button.
  3. The button will direct you to a page to fill out the descriptions of your event and POAP, like what it's commemorating, related websites, how long it should go for, how many "mint links" you need, etc. The mint links should be equal to however many people attending or will be eligible to claim the POAP.
  4. After filling out all the required details, you will receive an email with your POAP edit code and claim codes. Your edit code is needed to make changes or updates to your POAP and event.

Further support:

  1. If you run out of codes, go back to the events page, enter your POAP name into the search column and click on "Request more codes" on your page.

Enter the number of requested codes (the number of additional codes you need). To receive the new codes, you will need your edit code, which was emailed to you after creating the new POAP.

Find out more

This article was originally published on Feb 22, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. UTC


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

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Mason Marcobello is an Australian writer who has written for The Defiant, Decrypt and CoinDesk.

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