Arguably the biggest challenge for the ongoing development of crypto, blockchain technology and Web 3 is finding ways to widen their appeal and facilitate their applications. As the end of a tumultuous year for crypto markets comes to an end, there is now a unique, once-in-a-lifetime global opportunity to shape the future by democratizing access to the tools that people need to create decentralized services for everyday life.
One ecosystem is dedicated to making this happen: the Near blockchain, a permissionless, proof-of-stake, carbon-neutral blockchain designed to be superfast, incredibly secure and infinitely scalable. Unlike other networks, Near gives software developers easy access to build new crypto applications, from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to decentralized finance (DeFi) products, encouraging people to launch new business models and consumer products.
Near is also much faster than Ethereum, the world’s most used blockchain. It’s capable of hundreds of thousands of transactions per second versus ETH’s 45, and charges 1,000 times lower transaction fees for a much lower barrier to entry. But instead of being a direct competitor, Near runs in concert with Ethereum and other blockchains, allowing for the free flow of assets and communication between networks for the betterment of all.
Since its launch in 2020, Near’s ecosystem has seen a surge of activity. To date, it has processed more than 50 million transactions across more than 1.7 million accounts and helped incubate and foster over 200 projects and 300 DAOs.
In October 2021, Near announced $800 million in global ecosystem funding initiatives targeted at accelerating growth. The announcement, which includes the $350 million in funding announced by Proximity Labs, is designed to build on the momentum in the Near ecosystem over the last 12 months. In addition, Near recently finalized partnerships with Opera and the Wharton Business School, started working with crypto payment provider MoonPay to make Near accessible in 150 countries worldwide and continued collaborating with Near Inc. to launch Simple Nightshade, the first step towards a fully sharded blockchain.
At the end of 2021, Near held a town hall meeting for its wider community during which a number of other key developments were highlighted. These include the Near Education’s 1,000 Teacher Initiative that will educate the next million developers, designers and product people in the ecosystem. The second iteration of the MetaBUILD is currently underway, the first having launched in August with $1 million in prizes up for grabs.
“We launched MetaBUILD in August with the idea that this metaverse concept is bringing together work and play, the digital and the real, and it’s really merging Near’s identity of founding DAOs and communities, and the blockchain is at its core,” said Near co-founder Illia Polosukhin. “[Overall] we’ve had a lot of [developer] growth since May as we got all of the pieces and building blocks in. Over the last three or four months we’ve had 30% to 40% growth.”
Further validation of Near’s potential came with the announcement that Marieke Flament will be the new CEO of the Near Foundation starting Jan. 1, 2022. Flament joins from NatWest’s digital SME bank Mettle, and before that as head of European operations at Circle, making her a unique combination of both a crypto native and an experienced fintech CEO, who has scaled businesses in both.
“With its permissionless, proof-of-stake blockchain, Near has the capability to help us unlock many of the long-promised uses of the technology and to create products and services that promote greater inclusivity and reflect the needs of the people they’re designed to serve,” said Flament. “As the CEO, I am excited to play a role in achieving the foundation’s aim and to ensure that through collaboration and openness, the blockchain can be used as a true force for good.”
In Q4 this year, another major new project launched on Near Mainnet: Flux, an oracle from the future. Completely decentralized, Flux is bringing secured data feeds to any and all high-throughput data apps on the Near blockchain, such as trading platforms that need access to lots of reliable data. Flux’s unique feature set will bring to Near a next-generation oracle capable of powering mainstream use cases like derivatives, lending, stablecoins, dynamic NFTs, yield farming, reserve currencies, insurance, asset bridging, off-chain computation and more.
A number of other developers will launch their projects on Near in 2022, bringing many more DeFi, NFT, gaming, metaverse and other exciting projects to the Near ecosystem. The $800 million funding initiative, along with Guilds and other blockchain expertise and resources, will be crucial in helping DAOs succeed and, just as importantly, bringing the masses to the Open Web.