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What Is NEAR Protocol (NEAR)?
NEAR Protocol is a layer-one blockchain that was designed as a community-run cloud computing platform and that eliminates some of the limitations that have been bogging competing blockchains, such as low transaction speeds, low throughput and poor interoperability. This provides the ideal environment for DApps and creates a developer and user-friendly platform. For instance, NEAR uses human-readable account names, unlike the cryptographic wallet addresses common to Ethereum. NEAR also introduces unique solutions to scaling problems and has its own consensus mechanism called “Doomslug.”
NEAR Protocol is being built by the NEAR Collective, its community that is updating the initial code and releasing updates to the ecosystem. Its declared goal is to build a platform that is “secure enough to manage high value assets like money or identity and performant enough to make them useful for everyday people.”
Flux, a protocol that allows developers to create markets based on assets, commodities, real-world events, and Mintbase, an NFT minting platform are examples of projects being built on NEAR Protocol.
Who Are the Founders Of NEAR Protocol (NEAR)?
NEAR Protocol was founded by Erik Trautman, an entrepreneur with experience on Wall Street and founder of Viking Education. His co-founders were Illia Polosukhin, who has more than ten years of industry experience, including three years at Google, and Alexander Skidanov, a computer scientist that worked at Microsoft and went on to join memSQL, where he became the director of engineering. NEAR Protocol has an extensive team of experienced developers that includes several International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) gold medalists and winners. The team claims to have people with experience of building some of the only real-world sharded systems at scale, a solution the protocol is pursuing to improve blockchain scalability.
NEAR Protocol Technology
As dApps have grown in popularity, the crypto community has faced a growing scalability problem. Scalability in this context refers to a blockchain’s ability to handle a large number of transactions with reasonable speed and cost. Ethereum has particularly faced scalability challenges due to the high demand for its usage, and while some people advocate for scaling solutions to be built on top of Ethereum (Layer-2 solutions), other projects like NEAR have decided to build entirely new blockchains with different architecture.
NEAR Protocol’s proposed solution to this scalability problem is the implementation of sharding. Before diving into what this means, it’s useful to identify the three main functions of blockchain nodes: they process transactions, communicate validated transactions and completed blocks to other nodes, and store the state and history of the entire network. As network congestion increases, these tasks become more and more demanding for the nodes.
Sharding lessens the computational load by splitting or partitioning the network into shards (or fragments). With this tactic, every node is not required to run all of the network’s code — just the code that’s relevant to its shard — so shards can conduct computation in parallel with one another, thereby scaling the network’s capacity as the number of nodes in the network increases.
To achieve consensus among the nodes in the network, NEAR uses a PoS system. With PoS, nodes who wish to become transaction validators must stake their NEAR tokens to be considered for participation. Token holders who do not want to operate a node can delegate their stake to validators of their choice. NEAR uses an auction system to choose validators every epoch (approximately every 12 hours), and validators who have larger stakes have more influence in the consensus process.
Some validators are responsible for validating “chunks” — an aggregation of transactions from a shard — while others are tasked with producing blocks, which contain chunks from all the shards. Other nodes, called “fishermen,” observe the network and detect and report malicious behavior. If a validator behaves badly, their stake will be slashed.
How Does NEAR Protocol Work?
NEAR Protocol is a Proof of Stake (PoS) blockchain that aims to compete with other platforms thanks to its sharding solution, which it calls ‘Nightshade.’
Sharding is a blockchain architecture that allows each participating node in the blockchain to only store a small subset of the platform’s data. Sharding should allow the blockchain to scale more efficiently, while enabling a greater amount of transactions per second and lower transaction fees.
Nightshade allows NEAR Protocol to maintain a single chain of data, while distributing the computing required to maintain this data into “chunks.” These chunks are handled by nodes, who process the data and add the information to the main chain.
One of the main benefits of Nightshade is that its architecture allows for fewer potential points of failure when it comes to security, as participating nodes are only responsible for maintaining smaller sections of the chain.
NEAR Protocol includes an application called the Rainbow Bridge that allows participants to easily transfer Ethereum tokens back and forth between Ethereum and NEAR.
In order to move tokens from Ethereum to NEAR Protocol, a user would first deposit tokens in an Ethereum smart contract. These tokens are then locked, and new tokens would be created on NEAR’s platform representing the original ones.
Since the original funds are held in storage through the smart contract, the process can be reversed when the user wishes to retrieve their original tokens.
Aurora is a Layer 2 scaling solution built on NEAR Protocol intended for developers to launch their Ethereum decentralized applications on NEAR’s network.
Aurora is built using Ethereum’s coding technology, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), as well as a cross-chain bridge which enables developers to link their Ethereum smart contracts and assets seamlessly.
Developers can use Aurora to gain the low fee and high throughput advantages of NEAR Protocol, with the familiarity and network of applications of Ethereum.
Unique Features Of Near Protocol
Nodes, in any blockchain, typically have three main functions: processing transactions, communicating valid transactions and completed blocks with each other and storing the history of the network’s transactions. As a network grows and becomes more congested, these functions become more difficult for the nodes to manage.
Focus on decentralization
To maintain true decentralization, a network should be permissionless, meaning that potential node operators should be able to join freely (as opposed to incentivizing pooling).
Near uses threshold proof-of-stake, a staking technique considered both fair and predictable. This prevents powerful validators from pooling and encourages wide-scale participation among network members.
The Near Protocol has a usability-first approach, following a “progressive security” model that allows developers to create a user experience resembling web experiences.
Near understands the need for usability first and foremost, as developers will likely only create apps that offer value and usability to their users. Near offers easy subscriptions, simple onboarding, predictable pricing and familiar usage styles to users as part of its efforts to pursue user-centricity.
Near Protocol’s governance also allows rapid protocol improvement while retaining the provision of helpful input and supervision towards the community to ensure the protocol’s independence.
Merchants of NEAR
1. Macro Crypto Analysis relating to the institutional adoption of digital tokens and currencies. Long-term trends that every one in crypto and the NEAR ecosystem should prepare for as the entire crypto-verse evolves in the coming years.
2. NEAR Ecosystem Analysis both on a fundamental and technical level relating to the core protocol itself ($NEAR) as well as high profile fast growing projects such as Octopus Network ($OCT), Ref.Finance ($REF), Lollyswap, and Aurora (among others).
3. Creative Content Creation and Discussion: From speaking with established professionals in the space, to making videos, infographics and hosting discussions, the Merchants of NEAR intends to grow and evolve beyond simple analysis into the universities, boardrooms, and business meetings of the world.
What’s So Special About It?
Who Is Building On NEAR?
• 🛒 Flux: A decentralized open market protocol that launched on NEAR in August 2020.
• 💰 Mintbase: A platform that makes issuing and selling NFTs simple and cheap.
• 🎨 Paras: An NFT marketplace that focuses on high-quality works curated by select artists.
Where And How To Buy NEAR?
Top NEAR NFT Projects
Mintbase started in 2018 and was created by Nate Geier and Calorine Wend. Nate Geier is the company’s CEO, while Caroline is the COO, utilizing her management and business development expertise. Mintbase managed to raise $1 million from a seed funding round in 2020. Sino Global led the round and also consisted of other VCs such as Block Oracle Capital, D1 Ventures, and other angel investors.
Paras was created with a vision of providing the solution to aging traditional collectible cards. The platform validates ownership through the blockchain through fast and inexpensive transactions. The platform focuses on creating crypto-native collections which can be further diversified into more prominent mediums.
After the tremendous success of Cryptopunks, Solpunks, and Tpunks, NEAR will finally have its own version of the project, called Npunks. As with the original Punks project, there will be 10,000 unique NPunks with their own rarity traits. The collection will have 9 aliens, 24 apes, 88 zombies, and 111 bots.
Terra Partners With NEAR And Aurora, Bringing UST Stablecoin To Boost DeFi Growth
NEAR is pleased to announce that Terra, a leading blockchain protocol deploying a suite of algorithmic decentralized stablecoins, is integrating its UST stablecoin on the NEAR and Aurora ecosystems. This integration is made possible through a partnership with leading DeFi protocols NearPad and Rose.
NearPad, which aims to be the DeFi hub on Aurora, includes a DEX AMM product where users will be able to trade assets and provide liquidity with UST pairs. Rose is a stableswap and borrowing protocol on Aurora that allows users and other DeFi platforms to tap into deep, capital efficient, stablecoin liquidity.
The partnership between Terra, NearPad, and Rose will facilitate the growth of UST to new ecosystems on both NEAR and Aurora. Users will be able to bridge assets directly from Terra to Aurora via Allbridge or from any of the other supported chains. Both NearPad and Rose will offer incentivized opportunities for users to deposit UST liquidity into the protocols, which then can be accessed by the wider NEAR and Aurora communities.
“Partnering with Terra to bring UST to ecosystem to our community will be a big step towards growing the Near and Aurora ecosystem,” says Aiden Knox, Founder of NearPad and Rose. “I’m excited to be working closely with the Terra team to not only bring UST to NearPad and Rose, but also for the deeper integrations and collaborative projects this partnership enables.”
UST’s expansion to the NEAR ecosystem demonstrates the importance of a move toward a multi-chain,composable future. Users will have access to the benefits of protocols built on NEAR technology without any compromise in terms of having access to some of the most popular assets such as the leading decentralized stablecoin.
“NEAR has been built for simplicity, security and scalability,” says Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR. “Stablecoins like UST provide a simple interface to store value and interact with apps which need to use a stable unit of account. Connecting NEAR and Terra ecosystems via Allbridge allows apps like Rose and NearPad to offer new ways to use stablecoins to both communities.”
“We’re excited about the NEAR ecosystem and are looking forward to continuing UST’s cross-chain expansion via NearPad and Rose,” adds Jeff Kuan, Head of Business Development of Terra. “Working with strong teams like theirs, we’ll see UST embedded more deeply in the global DeFi ecosystem.”
NEAR/USD Price Analysis
Near Protocol’s ICO concluded in August 2020, according to ICO Drops. Since then, it has yielded a ROI of 614%, according to CoinMarketCap as of 28 February.
The NEAR crypto price gained traction for the first time in December 2020, when it climbed from $0.95 on 23 December 2020 to $1.76 on 9 January 2021. After a few days of consolidation, the second leg of the bull run began, accelerating the NEAR token price from $1.43 on 12 January.
As a result, it reached $7.41 on 13 March, a more than 400% rise in less than two months. Numerous partnerships and collaborations contributed to the rally.
Dragonfly Capital, a blockchain investment firm, joined the Near Protocol on 18 January as a professional validator and infrastructure provider, enabling it to participate in the Protocol’s technical governance.
However, a sharp bear run eventually erased all gains, and the NEAR coin declined to $1.68 on 20 July, a fall of almost 78% in less than three months. Bitcoin (BTC), too, experienced a bear market during this period, with its price falling from a high of $64,863 on 14 April to $29,360 on 20 July, a decline of nearly 55%.
Near received $800m funding on 25 October, and its token price reached $13.21 on 26 October, a rise of more than 686% from the July bottom. Finally, NEAR coin closed the year at $14.61.
During the onset of 2022, the NEAR coin’s price action was bullish, and it reached an all-time high of $20.42 on 16 January. However, it recently declined to a 30-day low of $7.41 on 24 February, attributed to overall bearishness in the broader cryptocurrency market.
At the time of writing (21 March), the NEAR coin was trading at $11.05 and had a market capitalisation of $7.32bn.