The Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP) has been gaining popularity over the past few years as a novel way to tokenize event attendance and participation on the blockchain. As virtual and hybrid events become more commonplace, POAPs have emerged as an innovative solution to create digital memorabilia, unlock benefits, and flexibly manage access.
In this article, we’ll unpack what POAPs are, how they work under the hood, and why they’re an exciting new primitive for the open metaverse.
What Is a POAP?
A POAP is a non-fungible token (NFT) that provides verifiable proof that someone attended or participated in a specific event. It effectively serves as a digital collectible or badge that memorializes the holder’s participation.
POAPs have a simple but powerful value proposition:
-They incentivize attendance and active participation at events by providing an exclusive digital souvenir.
-They unlock benefits and privileges that only holders can access, like exclusive content, airdrops, or discounts.
-They serve as on-chain credentials that can flexibly gate access to certain spaces or experiences.
Unlike a standard NFT, a POAP is non-transferable to help cement its exclusivity and prevent dilution of the prestige associated with originally attending the event. The metadata of each POAP is minted on the chain and immutably records details like the event name, date, location, sponsor, etc.
POAPs are often displayed on a user’s crypto wallet or profile to showcase the events they’ve attended and the communities they belong to. Just like collecting ticket stubs, pins, or badges from events, POAPs let users curate a gallery of their participation and show off their cred.
The History and Origins of POAP
POAPs were first conceived in 2017 by French developers Thibault La Hille, Nate Geier, and Manfred Karrer. They debuted the idea at ETHBuenosAires and launched the first version of the POAP website and smart contracts in 2018.
The goal was to build a standard, open protocol for creating verifiable attendance NFTs. Up until then, custom badges and tokens were issued at events in a fragmented, closed manner. POAP aimed to create an interoperable system that any event could plug into.
In 2019, POAPs started being issued at major crypto conferences like ETHDenver. They quickly caught on as a novel way for organizers to engage attendees before, during, and after events.
Over the past few years, POAP usage and issuance have accelerated with the growth of Web3 and crypto-native events. In late 2021, POAP conducted a token airdrop to retroactively reward early adopters. There are now over 2 million POAP NFTs in circulation.
How Do POAPs Work?
POAPs leverage smart contracts, IPFS, and other Web3 building blocks to generate verifiable attendance tokens. Here’s an overview of how they work under the hood:
1. Event organizers integrate with the POAP API and dashboard to configure a POAP for their event. This involves setting relevant event metadata like name, dates, location, imagery, etc.
2. Once the event POAP is configured, organizers can generate branded claim codes or links to share with attendees. These claim codes are one-time redeemable tokens mapped to the event’s POAP smart contract.
3. During or after the event, attendees visit a claim page and submit their claim code to mint their POAP NFT. This on-chains the attendance data and mints their POAP into their Ethereum wallet.
4. The POAP NFTs are minted as ERC-721 tokens with no on-chain value beyond memorializing attendance. The URI points to JSON metadata stored on IPFS with the configured event details.
5. Once claimed, POAP NFTs show up in a user’s wallet like any other NFT. They can be displayed to showcase participation, and many are tradable on secondary markets.
6. Organizers can gate access to certain benefits or perks based on POAP ownership. For example, airdropping tokens or unlocking exclusive content for all POAP holders.
7. POAPs essentially become verifiable digital memorabilia that attendees can cherish and organizers can leverage for future marketing and engagement.
For a seamless claiming experience, POAP has also built mobile apps, plugins, and various integrations with wallets and media sites. Overall, the infrastructure makes it incredibly easy for any event to get started issuing POAPs within minutes.
Key Benefits of POAPs
So why exactly are POAPs taking off? What unique value do they offer compared to just issuing custom tokens? Here are some of the key benefits driving adoption:
Verified attendance data – POAPs offer undisputed proof that someone participated in an event. No more faking attendance or buying fake tickets. This provides accountability and exclusivity.
Digital memorabilia – Like collecting ticket stubs, POAPs create digital keepsakes to remind holders of experiences. This drives sentimental value and demand.
Status and belonging – Displaying POAP NFTs conveys community membership and status. It showcases what conferences, events, or networks someone belongs to.
Engagement and marketing – POAPs incentivize participation and provide a channel for follow-up marketing to event attendees. Organizers can leverage POAP data for analytics and communication.
Gated access – POAPs can gate access to anything from swag claims to limited mint events. They serve as flexible credentials for unlocking perks.
Interoperability – POAPs are built on open standards so they work across hundreds of events and are displayed in all wallet apps. No walled gardens.
Robust infrastructure – The POAP API and system manages the complexity of smart contracts, NFT generation, and integrations. It’s simple for any event to offer POAPs.
On-chain proof – POAP data lives immutably on-chain rather than relying on off-chain servers. This ensures longevity and prevents tampering.
For organizers and builders, POAPs essentially serve as the WordPress of attendance tokens – a plug-and-play protocol for minting verifiable NFT credentials with ease.
Popular Uses of POAPs
Initially created with crypto conferences in mind, POAPs are now being used for all types of virtual and in-person events across industries including:
-Tech conferences (ETHGlobal, TechCrunch Disrupt, Outlier Ventures Summit, etc)
-Hackathons (EthHack, HackFS, MintHack, etc)
-Professional workshops and meetups
-Web3 community events (DeFi summits, DAO meetups)
-Exclusive parties (Cannes afterparties)
-Gaming tournaments (FIFA, Fortnite, CS:GO)
-Fitness challenges (marathons, Peloton challenges)
-Educational courses and camps
-Fan experiences (sports VIP events, movie premieres)
-Early access trials
-Special access tours
Essentially any scenario where organizers want to drive attendance, engagement, and community represents an ideal use case for POAP NFTs. The variety of potential events is endless.
Noteworthy POAP Projects
Beyond the POAP protocol itself, the POAP concept has inspired a growing ecosystem of apps and integrations leveraging POAP data in novel ways. Some noteworthy projects include:
POAP.xyz – The main POAP site for claiming POAPs and exploring events. Recently added user profiles and activity feeds.
poap.delivery – A marketplace to trade POAP NFTs from past events. Provides liquidity and discovery for collectors.
POAP.space – A 3D gallery to showcase POAP collections in an interactive metaverse environment.
poap4poap.eth – Lets users trade POAPs directly from wallet to wallet in a decentralized manner.
Convexec – An aggregator indexing global tech events and allowing users to export POAP calendars.
poap.tools – Provides analytics on POAP NFT traits and rarity to identify valuable collectibles.
POAP.art – Generates a mosaic “year in review” NFT displaying all a user’s POAPs claimed in a given period.
This is just a small sample of the fresh use cases and tooling popping up around POAPs. The space will likely continue growing as attendance NFTs gain adoption.
Minting Your POAPs
Ready to make POAPs part of your next event, drop, or community activation? Getting set up to mint your own POAP NFTs is quick and easy:
1. Create an account
Head to app.poap.xyz and connect your Ethereum wallet to sign up. You can use options like MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, Ledger, and more.
2. Configure your POAP
Draft up the POAP details including name, date, location, imagery, and optional accessories like 3D backgrounds or music.
3. Generate claim links
Create your unique claim links to share however you want – via email, social posts, at the venue, inside ticket links, etc.
4. Get the word out
Market the POAP opportunity leading up to your event to drive hype and attendance. Let people know they’ll earn a limited edition NFT!
5. Watch claims roll in
Once your event wraps up, keep an eye on the POAP dashboard to monitor claims and get data on redemption rates.
6. Follow up with holders
Engage POAP holders after the fact with special perks, airdrops, or continued community building. The POAP becomes your digital anchor for longer-term marketing and engagement.
7. Display and flex
Encourage holders to display their POAP NFTs on their profiles and in wallets to show off the communities they belong to.
The POAP team also provides helpful documentation and support throughout the process. Overall, it’s one of the most seamless and intuitive NFT minting experiences out there today.
POAPs for Community Building
Beyond just events, POAPs can also be powerful tools for community building. Here are some creative ways to leverage POAPs to engage your audience or customers:
-Reward early users, beta testers, early buyers, etc. with an exclusive POAP
-Commemorate loyalty program milestones (100th purchase, 1st anniversary, etc.)
-Incentivize social sharing, referrals, and reviews with POAP claims
-Gate access to special perks, content, or spaces for POAP holders
-Create treasure hunts or community challenges to earn POAPs
-Allow fans to claim POAPs representing favorite characters, brands, or collectibles
-Hold POAP art contests and exhibitions
-Give away POAPs during Twitter Spaces or Discord AMAs
-Airdrop POAPs during product launches or campaigns
-Create virtual meetups and reunions using POAPs as digital credentials
The possibilities are endless. POAPs give you a flexible Web3 primitive to get creative with community incentivization and engagement.
The Future of POAPs
While POAPs are already gaining traction today, they likely represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential. Here are a few trends to watch as POAPs continue evolving:
Mainstream adoption – More conferences, concerts, schools, and venues embracing POAPs as they go mainstream.
POAP staking – Staking POAP NFTs from certain events to earn rewards, governance rights, etc.
DAO credentials – POAPs evolving into membership cards and credentials for decentralized autonomous organizations.
Interoperability – Increased standardization and interoperability across different POAPs.
Access control – Using POAPs as keys to access metaverse spaces, NFT drops, launches, etc.
Automation – Auto-issuing POAPs based on provable digital activity, like commenting on a blog.
Analytics – More data analytics around POAP distributions, claim rates, and secondary sales.
Hybrid events – Increased usage for hybrid online/offline event models.
Gamification – Gamified experiences with treasure hunts and challenges to earn POAP rewards.
However the space evolves, POAPs represent an exciting new cryptographic primitive for the open metaverse. They provide a decentralized and extensible building block for any entity that wants to incentivize participation, build community, and memorialize experiences on the chain.
Proof of Attendance Protocols demonstrates the power of blockchain technology to reinvent real-world experiences and credentials for the Web3 era.
By minting verifiable and interoperable NFTs, POAPs unlock a brave new world of digital memorabilia, access control, event participation, and community engagement.
For anyone looking to incentivize, reward, and excite their community with real ownership and skin in the game, POAPs are a must-explore Web3 primitive. Whether throwing conferences or building DAOs, the proof is in the POAP.
So next time you participate in an event that offers the chance to claim one of these digital souvenirs, be sure to add it to your wallet. You’ll be left with a provable token to memorialize your participation and a door to unlocking exciting benefits.
Over time, aggregated POAP NFTs can become a badge of honor that showcases your journey through the world of Web3.