POA Network Blockchain Overview

Here we continue our series of learning more about EVM Smart Contract blockchains, today we look at POA Network and its unique consensus algorithm.

POA Network Blockchain Overview

POA Network describes itself as an open, public and permissioned network based on Ethereum protocol designed to be a sidechain. One of the key focuses behind their project is to provide solutions for blockchain scalability and interoperability, which is why, if you have used any of their products such as Nifty Wallet or Blockscout you will find they support multiple chains. Lately, we have seen various talk around Ethereum being at capacity which appears to emphasize the growing need of embracing a sidechain technology.

Though it is important to understand that POA is not just a sidechain implementation for Ethereum, their network has been designed to be its own public blockchain using a consensus algorithm known as Proof-of-Authority (PoA). This allows POA team to provide products that can be integrated into any EVM Smart Contract Blockchain and not locking themselves into just being a sidechain solution for Ethereum.

What is POA Network?

  • Ticker: POA
  • Consensus: PoA (proof of authority)
  • Block time: 5 seconds

POA network didn't think very hard about it's naming, picking the name of their consensus algorithm as the chain's name, most likely because they have allocated 100% of their energy to building out the technology. The creators of the network successfully raised $12.5 million in an ICO selling roughly 175 million POA tokens - let's see where this money went!

At the core of the network lies an interesting twist on the commonly used PoA consensus. Instead of having a fixed set of validators (masternodes that sign blocks and add them to the blockchain, much like miners in PoW chains do using work instead of authority), POA also includes a mechanism at the core of the network to allow validators to vote for adding new members or for kicking malicious ones.  

Notably, all POA validators must have an active notarial public license in the United States. Because validator identifiers are publicly available, validators are more likely to act in the interests of the network. This setup very closely resembles representative democracy as opposed to PoW chain's game theoretic anarchy. Sure, this is not a revolution like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but it does allow PoA to exist with a relatively high degree of decentralization. Which is why more recently they have taken to referring to their consensus algorithm as Proof of Autonomy because the validators operate as DAO which does not include the POA team.

POA team has then proceeded to utilize this representative democracy twist to create POA-style oracles for their cross-chain solutions like xDAI or TokenBridge. The openly less decentralized (for good reasons) network, combined with TokenBridge technology, de-facto makes POA the first Ethereum sidechain.

Trade ETH / ETC on Saturn Network using POA TokenBridge
Here we learn how to trade ETH / ETC on Saturn Network by making use of POA TokenBridge technology. Happy trading!

Apart from working on their main product they have also done a huge amount of consulting work, and have donated a lot of their time towards the larger opensource community, having published the incredible BlockScout explorer, Nifty Wallet, and collaborated with MakerDAO team on the xDAI chain.

Future is bright!

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