Over 20,000 crypto enthusiasts traveled to Colorado for the ETHDenver Conference. For those who are unfamiliar, ETHDenver is one of the world’s largest and longest-running crypto conferences, presenting an IRL opportunity to engage, network and build with industry leaders and developers alike. The week-long conference featured numerous educational sessions, talks and a hackathon designed to let developers build actionable solutions in real time.
Of the participants that were actively involved in the conference, no other made an impact quiet like Near Protocol. Until recently, Near was a super-charged proof-of-stake platform designed for speed, security and scalability. Building on such a strong platform, people too often view Near as a competitor to Ethereum. However, Near’s presence at ETHDenver showed that the blockchain is not out to compete against Ethereum, but instead compliment the blockchain and support Ethereum for its shortfalls.
As co-founder Illia Polosukhin noted in a major new announcement from the ETHDenver main stage, Near isn’t just a layer 1 – Near is the Blockchain Operating System. An industry-first category, the Blockchain Operating System is a common layer for browsing and discovering open web experiences, compatible with Ethereum and any other blockchain.
The dynamic between Near and Ethereum was most apparent during Near Day: a well-attended event that occurred for an entire day on the ETHDenver mainstage. Near Day was packed with a wide range of speakers, including Near Foundation CEO Marieke Flament, Aurora Labs CEO Alex Shevchenko, Illia Poluskhin and fellow Near co-founder Alex Skidanov. Highlighting how Near presents an environment that is “Ethereum without limits” the speakers touched on a wide range of topics surrounding Web3, the open web and the future of digital assets.
Near is the Blockchain Operating System
One of the biggest announcements from ETHDenver was Poluskhin’s announcement that NEAR will transition to a Blockchain Operating System (BOS). The BOS is a common layer for browsing and discovering open web experience, compatible with any blockchain. Think of a BOS as an operating system (OS), like Windows or MacOS for Web3 – as well as a resource for decentralized front end components for the Near ecosystem.
Near’s mission has always been to onboard the next billion users into Web3, and its positioning as a BOS has made it one of the easiest platforms to use and build on. For users, Near launched alpha.near.org, an alpha experience of the BOS, making the discovery of apps and experiences easier than ever. For developers, it creates an interface to rapidly and more efficiently build apps. Marking the first step toward the protocol’s move to a BOS, alpha.near.org serves the broader crypto ecosystem as a whole, not just one blockchain.
Thriving ecosystem of innovative projects
Near Day highlighted a wide range of projects in different sectors of crypto as they celebrated Near integrations, funding and major milestones.
Flowcarbon, for example, a climate tech company co-founded by Adam Neumann, announced that it would be launching its carbon-market ecosystem on Near. Utilizing both Near and Near’s EVM compatible Aurora, the market will champion the regenerative finance (ReFi) movement by bringing transparency to carbon markets through tokenization. The integration on Near comes as a point of shared values. Like Flowcarbon, Near is also supportive of environmental projects, being one of the only carbon-neutral chains that has supported several forest protection and restoration projects.
Stacks Sports also announced its commitment to building on Near through the launch of the StackNFT platform. StackNFT allows both parents and athletes to easily mint royalty-free NFTs and share their favorite sports memories on chain. The integration brings Stack Sports’ audience – over 50 million users in 35 countries, ranging from little leaguers to professional athletes – into the world of Web3.
In addition to new entrants to the ecosystem, Near Day also highlighted current ecosystem projects that continue to gain support. Community-first digital collectible platform Few and Far, for instance, announced a $10.5 million funding round led by Pantera Capital. Additionally, two Near startups were celebrated as winners of the ETHVC’s Startup Demo Day: Niche and Kino. Niche is a Web3 social app developed by former Web2 social leaders from Facebook, Tinder and Bumble, while Kino provides a Web3 platform for film financing.
Related: NEAR TO IMPOSSIBLE, a CoinDesk limited series highlighting the founders of Few and Far and Niche.
Near Day and the broader ETHDenver Conference brought new energy into the crypto space that felt more accessible, open and bullish than ever before. As Near continues to develop on its position as the Blockchain Operating System, more announcements and updates are expected for both developers and end users at Consensus and other major conferences. Coupled with the fact that projects continue to thrive and grow with Near, the next billion users may just come sooner than you think.