The core value proposition of POAP: explained.

5 min readSep 11, 2020

Welcome to a new article of the POAP blog. We want to carefully present to our extended community several subjects that are fundamental to us, POAP.

Questions that will get answers during the article:

  • What’s a POAP token?
  • What’s the core value proposition of POAP?
  • How do we make it possible ?
  • What makes a token a POAP?
  • What prevents a token being a POAP?

This article assumes the reader has a somewhat deep understanding of Ethereum technologies in general.

The founding team of POAP has spent long hours debating the value proposition of our platform. Finding out what characteristics a POAP token should have to perform its best. The vision was from the very beginning making POAP a cornerstone of decentralized societies. The mission, to take advantage of leading edge technologies for the collective greater good at scale.

What a POAP token is and actual value proposition

A POAP is a digital collectible (token) with certain features that when it’s grouped together with other POAP tokens create a collection. That collection can only belong to a particular human.

A POAP collection is hence a digital representation of a human individual that doesn’t rely on any typical personal identifiable information (PII) like names, gender, nationality much less passport numbers.

Once a collection overcomes an initial size threshold, it’s non-deterministically safe to assume that a single human cannot be behind of more than one POAP collection.

A protocol that allows people to create low-cost and highly-reliable decentralized identities enables mind blowing applications that are currently impossible.

How do we make this decentralized identities possible ?

POAP uses a very popular (and technically disappointing) standard identified by the acronym ERC-721.

People get one POAP token each time they take part of an event, whether it’s in-person or virtual, short-lived or long-lasting. This POAP token is an easily verifiable proof that they were part of that event at the certain point in time it happened.

The issuer of the token is typically the event organizer, who acts as an oracle that attests that a person was part of the event and it’s not trying to unlawfully get the POAP token.

The limitless amount of events a person can be part of makes a collection of POAPs unique soon after they redeem a handful, but not all collections are created equal.

For an event organizer to become an authorized POAP issuer they have to abide by the mandate of intending to not allow attendees to get more than one POAP each and to prevent non-attendees to get one either.
The protocol doesn’t directly enforce the compliance of the mandate, meaning that it can happen that some events for whatever reason fail to deliver their duty.

POAP encourages event organizers to follow reliable procedures to prevent sybil attacks by being transparent on the process of how POAPs are distributed to attendees. Some organizers (issuers) use sophisticated techniques to distribute the POAP tokens and by doing that they increase the strength of all the POAP collections that hold them. POAPs issued by less reliable entities are still very valuable for strengthening a collection, because the activity of someone that’s trying to exploit the system is very easy to spot. Although POAP tokens can be transferred freely by the holder, that rarely happens out of entire collection migrations to a new account.

What makes a token a POAP ?

The idea of holding a cryptographic token to verifiably proves attendance to an event predates POAP by far. In 2016 Piper Merriam issued the inspiring Devcon 2 token.

Many more events issued their own tokens for attendees to prove attendance and have a collectible of it. That alone is a very compelling value proposition that people really love. No identity features whatsoever.

The problem was that an identity standard can’t be created if the event organizers don’t use all the same protocol.

The POAP founding team noticed early on that it was important to coordinate with all the event organizers to jump on our standard otherwise the purpose of the project would be defeated or lengthily delayed until pursuing standards died before the crowning of a winner. Like it or not, traffic of influence is rampant on the Ethereum ecosystem so with the help of several power brokers and intense hard work we managed to cover almost all the events. Nowadays if an Ethereum event uses a proof of attendance system that’s not POAP, the collective mind of the community would consider it an outlaw and not a competitor. More on how we achieved that in the following two articles:

So what makes a token a POAP again ?

Currently for a NFT to be a POAP it has to comply with these 3 rules:

  1. By minted under the contract located in the address of the Ethereum Mainnet: 0x22c1f6050e56d2876009903609a2cc3fef83b415
  2. Have metadata related to a date or time period up to a year long.
  3. Have an image associated with it.

What prevents a token being a POAP?

Governance of decentralized protocols is really hard. We barely understand the consequences of our actions and even when we do, we often can’t prevent undesired outcomes. The conditions we have identified that prevent a token qualify as a POAP are:

  1. Tokens that don’t have a direct association with a calendar based timed period. For example tokens that represent membership to groups.
  2. One-off tokens that don’t really provide any verifiability because no third parties besides the issuer and the only one receiver can attest about.

Final words

This is a superficial article for presenting concepts POAP care about as a protocol and to express our feelings. We may publish another article about the path towards decentralization and other very exciting experiments with are working on. In the meantime please stay tuned to our social media channels.

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