NFTs—or non-fungible tokens, exclusive tokens on the blockchain—hold endless possibilities for their application.

Many of us are familiar with NFT art taking crypto collectors by storm over the past few years, but art collectibles only scratch the surface of the potential for this new kind of digital contract. This is exactly what the creators of POAP NFTs wanted to explore when they developed their protocol on the Ethereum blockchain in 2018.

POAP offers a new way to record notable memories, experiences, and life moments—and a new way for crypto community members to connect and interact with one another that’s not solely tied to economic incentives.

If you’ve attended an event that distributed POAPs or want to learn more about how to create this type of NFT for your own event or community, here’s everything you need to know about creating and using a POAP NFT.

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What Is a POAP NFT?

POAP stands for Proof of Attendance Protocol. The blockchain protocol is a way of creating a token that records notable life experiences, most commonly attendance at an exclusive event.

POAPs are minted as a type of NFT on an offshoot of the Ethereum blockchain called xDai. Event attendees usually receive a link, QR code, or password to mint their individual NFT for free in exchange for attending the event.

Unlike better known digital art, music, or fashion NFTs, POAPs aren’t designed to be sold or traded. These collectibles act as proof that the holder was at an exclusive or notable event, or an early part of a community, and that actual experience can’t be transferred. Functionally, though, POAPs can be sold or traded from wallet to wallet, just like any other NFT.

In short, a POAP is digital swag to commemorate notable events. 

Each event gets a unique design, and each attendee gets a unique badge minted as an NFT that uses the blockchain’s immutable recordkeeping to document their involvement.

Like NFT art, a POAP contains an image or gif designed exclusively for the event, plus metadata about the event’s location, date, time, and website. If the NFT changes hands through a sale or trade, that exchange will be recorded, so it’s always clear who the initial recipient of the POAP was.

POAPs were first created in 2018 by the group now officially incorporated as POAP, Inc. A group of Ethereum enthusiasts who wanted to showcase the blockchain’s versatility (which far surpassed Bitcoin’s and was unique in Web3 at the time). The first POAPs issued commemorated attendance at ETHDenver 2019, a virtual and physical festival for Ethereum hackers and collectors.

Cute sushi character running away from descending chopsticks, on a light teal background.

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How to Use a POAP

If you attend an event that gives you access to a secret word, QR code, or link to mint a POAP, the easiest way to mint the NFT is through the POAP mobile app. In the app, you can scan the code or enter the event’s secret word, plus your email address or address of your ETH wallet, to claim the POAP.

You can view your collected POAPs through the app or in your crypto wallet, as long as you use a wallet that lets you view NFTs. 

Anyone can create a POAP for their event or community—from in-person and virtual conferences, to Clubhouse gatherings, to podcast episodes. Participants collect POAPs without specific promises of future benefits, but issuers could offer perks in the future on a whim for badge holders. A POAP might give you access to exclusive polls or raffles, for example.

Create a POAP for Your Event

If you host an event and want to distribute a POAP to commemorate it, you can create a POAP “drop” (a.k.a. release) through POAP’s Back Office.

Just enter some information about your event and your email, then create a PNG image for the badge. The drop will be reviewed by the ​​POAP Curation Body, an independent group within the POAP organization. Once accepted, your POAP will be available to distribute. 

You’ll need to distribute the NFT’s minting information to your community through your event. 

Where to Get POAPs

POAPs are intended to be distributed by their issuers to event attendees. To get an original POAP, you have to attend the event, listen to the podcast, or join the community that they commemorate.

Naturally, POAP issuers tend to be events and communities related to crypto and blockchain, but the mementos could expand outside of the niche quickly, just as NFT art has done.

You can also find secondhand POAP NFTs for sale through NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. Secondhand POAPs might carry value based on the exclusivity of the event or speculation about the possibility of future perks.

Unlike other NFTs, you usually don’t have to already own cryptocurrency to cover minting fees for the POAP. You can typically claim it for free with an email address or crypto wallet. 

Why Care About POAP NFTs?

“The blockchain is actually going to revolutionize specific industries for its collaborative, open source, and streamlined nature,” explains cryptocurrency and no-code teacher Ravinder Deol in his Skillshare class, A Guide to the Blockchain Ecosystem.

POAP NFTs are just one example of how the blockchain can change the way we engage and interact with communities and experiences.

POAP—both the protocol and the company behind it—is an example of how innovators in this space have been able to bottle their excitement for the possibilities of blockchain technology and develop something new.

Early adopters are using POAP and other NFTs mainly in the realm of hobby investing and collecting—the tokens hold value simply because of their rarity. But as blockchain gains momentum with the larger public and developers move out of the early sandbox phase of experimentation, these protocols could have a real impact on how we execute day-to-day activities, just as the internet did before it.

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