Alchemy, the backbone of a large portion of the $42 billion decentralized finance (DeFi) realm, is partnering with Flow, the blockchain built by the team behind NBA Top Shot, 2021’s leading foray into the explosive world of non-fungible tokens (NFT).

CryptoKitties creator Dapper Labs began working with Alchemy a few years back. So the partnership announced Thursday will provide the same support for Flow, the home of NBA Top Shot. The latter accounts for more transactions than all the other NFT projects combined, according to Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou.

Alchemy, a kind of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for powering blockchains, also provides developers with the “picks and shovels” to easily build more user-friendly services. This typically means tools to debug their code, increase performance and allow better transparency.

“When you open Uber or Netflix or Airbnb, that infrastructure is powered by AWS underneath the hood. And alchemy does the same for accessing blockchains,” Alchemy CEO Nikil Viswanathan said in an interview.

Flow has distinguished itself with five specialized node types that perform specific roles within the ecosystem across “collection,” “execution,” “consensus,” “verification” and “access.” The firm claims that using its system rather than sharding brings the network better speed and data throughput.

“Flow can achieve this very high scale and great user experience with very low gas fees, but without Alchemy you’d have to build everything yourself,” said Gharegozlou. “These developer tools are helping Flow go from a blockchain that has half a dozen applications to one that can have thousands or tens of thousands in a matter of months.”

A handful of systemically important firms have emerged to provide connective tissue across the burgeoning Ethereum ecosystem, which include Alchemy and its opposite number, ConsenSys-owned Infura. Other essential furniture for DeFi and proof-of-stake investing include ConsenSys-owned MetaMask and Coinbase-owned Bison Trails

These beefed-up infrastructure offerings ensure blockchain users have a smooth ride accessing services and can enjoy 100% uptime, but such concentration could potentially be a single point of failure.

“I think at one point Infura was very dominant,” Gharegozlou said. “Now that there’s Alchemy there are a few different options and things are a little less specialized on Ethereum.”

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