ITNs have proven to be one of the best ways to fully test functionality and encourage community participation once Mainnet goes live – just look at Cosmos, Polkadot, Cardano, and The Graph. The Polymesh ITN was modeled in much the same fashion.
The Polymesh Incentivized Testnet (ITN) marked a key step in the march towards Polymesh’s Mainnet launch.
From Polkadot to Cosmos, ITNs are a proven way to hit two birds with one stone, driving community engagement and participation while stress testing on-chain functionality.
Running with the Bulls on Polymesh ITN gave participants a unique opportunity to get rewarded for helping us complete testing on key features and functionality. From April 2021 to September 2021, users and node operators completed challenges and earned points to climb the leaderboard with the potential to be rewarded in POLYX once the ITN finished.
Now one year later, we revisit the Polymesh ITN and our takeaways from its key learnings.
The Polymesh ITN was more than just a regular testnet; as an incentivized testnet, the Polymesh ITN gave users and node operators the opportunity to accrue points for taking specific actions on the chain and to compete with others for spots on the leaderboard. When Mainnet launched, these points became redeemable for POLYX.
The Polymesh ITN genesis block went live on March 30, 2021 with the chain accessible to users on April 13, 2021 when key user interfaces were turned on. These included Token Studio, Governance, Staking, and notably, Onboarding. Unlike many other blockchains, Polymesh requires all actors to verify their real-world identity during the onboarding process in order to interact with the chain. The Polymesh ITN was no different.
Below we’ll take a look at a few key learnings of the Polymesh ITN– but if there’s anything the ITN taught us, it’s that Polymesh has a huge actively engaged community.
Over the course of the ITN, we saw incredible response from the Polymesh community, with over 4,300 engaged users complete onboarding and more than 3,700 tokens created. And with 99 million points earned through Running with the Bulls, needless to say, users were eager to collect their rewards!
While users onboarded and completed Running with the Bulls challenges, Polymesh node operators took well to performing their node operating duties with consistent uptimes and proper block writing. Meanwhile, the Polymesh team was dedicated to understanding the features the community loves, what might not be working, and of course, working through a few bugs.
We knew our community could be passionate, but seeing the response to the ITN well-surpassed our expectations. Within the first week alone, we saw a huge active user base onboard with more than 2,300 users applying from more than 80+ countries, and usage surpassing the rate limits set for our external APIs. By the time of the ITN’s close, 4,391 accounts from users in 96+ countries received rewards, while 12 node operators were fully onboarded and producing blocks.
What’s more, we saw engagement increase across Running with the Bulls challenges, with the amount of unique active users completing each challenge increasing as time went on. Some challenges such as Challenge #3 even saw a completion rate of over 70% of all onboarded users.
As challenges got more complex with tasks that required multiple participants to act as issuers and investors, we also saw surges in activity with users connecting with others on third-party channels like the Polymesh Community Forum, Telegram, Discord, and Reddit to successfully complete the challenge tasks.
But it wasn’t only ITN user metrics; we also had a wealth of smart and informed feature requests that helped us understand the motivations of users and what else they expect from Polymesh. (In fact, we’re always looking for feedback– if there’s a feature you love or hate, let us know in the Polymesh community).
As a blockchain built for security tokens, we always knew the importance of verifying identities to onboard users. But what we didn’t account for was such high demand from the start– some users experienced some prolonged delays as we worked with our CDD provider to address operational hiccups.
While the initial onboarding hiccups were resolved and onboarding times improved dramatically, we would have liked to see a higher onboarding completion rate and quicker turnaround for all applicants. It was an ongoing process working with our CDD provider to ensure all eligible users could complete onboarding to Polymesh, which is why it was so exciting for us when we finished integrating a new CDD provider towards the close of the ITN.
Unfortunately, onboarding hiccups aren’t local to the Polymesh testnet. At the time of posting, Polymesh mainnet is integrated with three CDD providers, but onboarding issues still account for a large portion of support tickets submitted.
Why is that? A whole range of factors, from user negligence (e.g. missing an email; not submitting an acceptable form of identification) to technology issues on behalf of the CDD provider (e.g. not reading the MRZ code; not recognizing lesser-used global identification) to the success of the system itself (e.g. users from countries on the OFAC list are prohibited from using Polymesh).
If you’ve begun the onboarding process but not yet finished, check your inbox for an approval email or an email with additional steps before reaching out to support.
To prepare for ITN launch meant working with numerous third parties, such as operators and CDD providers, with complex points of interaction. Our robust internal testing focused on testing in isolation, but could have been improved through better at-scale integration testing to represent the diversity and differences of community data. A good example of this is the different types of global types of identification needed for CDD onboarding.
With users able to explore all features on ITN, we gained a clearer understanding of how the dApp UIs help or hinder them from accomplishing key tasks. This meant reviewing user flows, designs, and copy when we knew users were running into trouble. Throughout the experience of the ITN, we made plenty of small updates to Polymesh UIs to provide necessary clarity for users, and we continue to keep an eye on what could be fine-tuned or improved.
We want Polymesh to be the best it can be, which is why we built the Polymesh Bug Bounty Program, where community members can assist us in finding bugs and vulnerabilities for monetary rewards if they’re confirmed.
After the launch of the Polymesh ITN, we had a few bugs submitted that were applicable for Bug Bounty. One addressed a scenario where a primary key could be attached to more than one unique ID, while another was a bug that improperly removes a secondary key for a primary key. Both of these bugs were crucial for making Polymesh more robust– which is why we encourage anyone who thinks they’ve found a bug on testnet or mainnet to submit to Polymesh Bug Bounty.
Another benefit of an actively engaged community is it shines a light on areas for improvement we could not consider at a smaller scale. For instance, we heard from users across every medium imaginable, which is great! That said, it’s a challenge to have user outreach from so many places, which is why we focused on streamlining our community and feedback processes through the Official Polymesh Support Community as we worked towards Mainnet.
With over 1,000 tickets submitted, we were pleased to see our community was active in catching issues. They might signal problems, but the tickets also told us we had an engaged community that wants to improve our product.
With a streamlined support system, we were also better able to respond to requests for help. We saw an average response time of 2.5 hours on any given ticket, surpassing our internal benchmark of a same-day response.
Now that Polymesh Mainnet is live, we’re streamlining our community and support even further, with emphasis on the Official Polymesh Support Community for any support-related requests and the Official Polymesh Discord for anything else.
An important part of any testnet is hearing from our users what’s working for them and what isn’t. With Polymesh ITN, we elevated our feedback process to be sure that when we implement solutions, they address the needs of the community. What better place to start than Polymesh Staking?
Early on, we wanted to improve the staking interface to provide more data and details to better inform users before they click stake. This includes things like operator performance details, enhanced staking data, and more.
To build a collaborative process with our users, we created a clickable design prototype to take them through the improved Staking journey and give them a feel for what we believed would improve the experience– with an invitation to give feedback through a form.
With the clickable prototype for the community, we were able to add a touchpoint to the feedback process, helping us better understand what our community needs in a Staking UI. It was a resounding success and we plan to use this approach for future UI implementations.
Much like how a Proof-of-Stake blockchain divides rewards between users and node operators, the Running with the Bulls reward pool was divided. The Polymesh Governing Council (GC) distributed 10,000,000 POLYX from the Network Treasury to the following groups:
When mainnet went live, a Polymesh Improvement Proposal (PIP) was created asking the GC to reward ITN users and node operators. The community could show their support for this proposal through the Polymesh Governance App. When passed, the Polymesh GC rewarded POLYX based on each users’ and operators’ proportional points accrued over the course of the event.
As a blockchain built for regulated assets, Polymesh only allows permissioned capital market participants that meet specific criteria to author blocks.
During the ITN, node operators needed to make themselves identifiable to users in order for stakers to optimize their staking decisions and for there to be marketing outreach and support.
Node operators received rewards proportional to the total number of blocks they produced during the testnet period. This means they needed to follow the rules of Polymesh by staying responsive, maintaining uptime, and avoiding equivocation– because if they’re offline for periods or slashed, they won’t be producing blocks.
To get started on Polymesh ITN, every user was eligible for 100,000 ITN POLYX via the bridge. ITN POLYX has no value and is only used to participate on ITN.
Instead, users competed for points, which were only for gamification purposes and accrued based on transparent on-chain activity. The points were non-transferable with no intrinsic value.
Points were based on specific actions that users could perform on-chain. Users could accrue points everyday by staking, while other actions had caps for how many times they will accrue points for each user. The Starter Challenge listed in the Challenges below was available throughout the entirety of Running with the Bulls, but additional special missions had time limits for accruing points until the next challenge dropped.
Running with the Bulls kicked off with the Starter Challenge, the only challenge available for the entirety of the ITN until it closed on September 15 at 12 PM ET. New challenges dropped frequently but, unlike the Starter Challenge, other challenges were only open for a limited time.
The first limited edition challenge was designed to set you on the journey to create and issue a security token and contained prerequisites for future challenges.
Challenge #2 explored the two features that can enable a compliant token* and prepare your asset for distribution: compliance rules and attestations. These features work together, with compliance rules setting the stipulations for a user to hold your token, and attestations as the vehicle to verify a user meets them.
* Compliance varies by jurisdiction. When creating a security token, consult with your legal advisors to determine how to meet regulations for your jurisdiction.
Challenge #3 explored asset distribution and transfers. This challenge went a step further from configuring a compliant security token and involved creating an asset by transferring a token. To complete this challenge, users needed to use tokens to distribute assets by sending transfers to other users, as well as accepting transfers.
Challenge #4 explored offering assets to investors via a security token offering (STO). Users could earn points by configuring advanced token rules, then creating an STO and finding investors. For users who had created compliance rules for their token, these investors needed to meet the token’s compliance rules through attestations.
Challenge #5 explored using portfolios to manage your assets. Users could earn points by creating a portfolio, adding assets to a portfolio, designating a portfolio manager, and finally, transferring an asset from their portfolio to another user.
Challenge #6 explored Polymesh staking functionality through editing your stake. There were three ways users could earn points from staking for this challenge.
Challenge #7 explored executing corporate actions and managing dividend distribution in conjunction with other users. There were three ways users could earn points for this challenge.
Challenge #8 explored participating in Polymesh’s on-chain governance process.
Polymesh relies on a Governing Council composed of key stakeholders to review Polymesh Improvement Proposals (PIPs) submitted by committees or token holders, find consensus, and chart a path forward for its future development. In this challenge, users could earn points for participating in Polymesh governance by creating and voting on a PIP.
For the final Polymesh ITN challenge, we did something a bit different. To properly test the latest CDD provider Netki for onboarding, all ITN users had the opportunity to earn even more points by creating another identity on-chain. Users who onboarded through Netki could earn points for the Starter Challenge again, however as these points were collected under a different account, they would not count towards a user’s original ITN points earning and ranking (although all points earned were eligible for rewards when Mainnet launched).
Running with the Bulls on the Polymesh ITN wrapped up in September 2021, and users have been able to collect ITN rewards since Polymesh Mainnet launch through the ITN Rewards page.
Instructions on how to view your place in the leaderboard and claim your corresponding points can be found here. Note that to claim potential POLYX rewards, users will be required to complete Polymesh mainnet onboarding.
The incentivized testnet may be over now, but you can still use the Polymesh testnet to experiment and test features and functionality without financial consequence.
The Polymesh testnet is a fully-functional Polymesh network, complete with the exact functionality as the Polymesh mainnet. As a replica of mainnet, the testnet uses POLYX for transaction fees and voting, but testnet POLYX and any assets you originate and trade are considered valueless. This makes the Polymesh testnet the perfect environment to practice and experiment with the blockchain in a way that won’t require real financial value.
When developing in blockchain environments, it’s important to be able to test protocols and features before they go live, especially when transactions and assets carry financial and legal implications.
The Polymesh testnet played a key role in preparing us for mainnet launch, and its importance will only continue as the Polymesh ecosystem develops and grows.
We want to extend a huge thank you to the Polymesh community for rolling up their sleeves and diving into the Polymesh testnet (whether incentivized or not). Each of you gave your time to help us make Polymesh and the corresponding dApps better, and the blockchain wouldn’t be where it is today without your feedback!