NEAR (NEAR)

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"NEAR is a sharded, developer-friendly blockchain and smart contract platform which addresses both usability and scalability at the protocol level."

Basics

  • Based in:
  • Started in: 2017
  • Testnet launched on: 22-4-2020
  • Mainnet on 10-2020

History

  • NEAR took ETH 2.0 (or from what was known about it back in 2018) as a starting point and 'forked off' (1-4-2020)
  • From The Defiant (16-11-2020) where Illia, a co-founder says:

"But in general, Google [where he worked], even though inside, it's a very open place, but it has a lot of constraints just being a big company. I left it to start a startup because I wanted to leverage things that I learned and some of the machine learning tools in the wider world. Me and my co-founder, Alex, we started the company called Near AI, which was supposed to teach machines to code. So we really wanted to have a machine learning model that a normal person who does not know how to do programming would be able to explain what they want, and the computer would write codes for them. It's a very challenging task, a lot of people have been working on it.

We had an interesting approach to collecting data. We built this platform, where student engineers usually around the world would actually contribute tasks. So they would write code and write some language for these things. It was kind of like what Gitcoin right now is doing was these tasks. At that time, we did not know what Gitcoin is, but we had a ton of problems paying people around the world. We had people in China, we had people in Russia and Ukraine, Poland, all these places have very different capital control requirements. This is like 2018, not that long ago.

We looked at crypto and Ethereum smart contracts as a way to solve our own problem. We were thinking, can we use pretty much crypto to pay people? Can we use smart contracts to actually create a more open, transparent marketplace so we can actually get more people to be participating and maybe pretty much creating more, like putting more money into this process so we can collect more data? 

The problem is, even if it's 100 people, so we were paying about $0.30 per task, and people are doing them like once a minute. It actually would cost us at the time, about the same as we were paying in transaction fees on Ethereum. Probably right now, it's even more. So even at that time, just like a pretty simple task, and again, we had “hundredish” users, it's not even that big. It was pretty clear that Ethereum, albeit serving a very specific purpose is not actually kind of fitting what we call a more wide set of use cases. 

We started looking at what are other platforms out there were able to serve this. Being from a technical background, my co-founder built sharded databases that are used across big companies like Goldman Sachs, Uber.  At Google, we were pretty surprised by the state of blockchains. This is really where Near came out, really looking at, well, if we cannot even solve this pretty small problem, and as we were getting deeper into blockchain, we're getting more in the spirit of how these types of platforms can unlock new types of marketplaces that are impossible, really hard to do. With millions, and ideally, billions of people using them, you do need a scalable platform. So this is how Near started with that premise in mind."

"With the launch of the Rainbow Bridge, DeFi officially became live on NEAR as it unlocked the use of all assets originating in Ethereum. Within just five months, NEAR saw the launch of several core DeFi projects, including Ref Finance, (a DEX and core NEAR project), Meta Pool (a liquid staking solution), and Oin Finance (a stablecoin issuance platform). In May 2021, Aurora was also launched on top of the NEAR network as an Ethereum Virtual Machine built to function as an Ethereum-compatible scaling solution."

Audits & Exploits

"The chain has made some impressive inroads in terms of technology, but more procedural development would make us feel more at ease. Despite significant load at times, we could not find any documented cases of NEAR going down - this is good. NEAR is lacking in terms of node counts. At just 100, this is not sufficiently decentralised for us to call this network adequately distributed. We couldn’t find any documentation relating to archive node counts either. But we concede that there are good instructions on how to run the archive node as well as these 100 validators do appear to be well geographically distributed. It’s a shame the staking requirement is so high at almost 200,000 NEAR!

What’s encouraging is that three separate implementations are documented. Architecture for how the node is detailed as well as detailed chain documentation on a software function documentation can be easily referred back to. Nonetheless, we’re dissatisfied with the amount of testing documented in NEAR’s NEARCORE repository - for every 100 lines of code we found 69 lines of test code. Deployed code should not exceed the test code - documented tests do not cover the entire chain.

An alarming point that we discovered is that NEAR has no public audits. While we found a mention of audits in a Messari report, we couldn’t find the audits themselves. This is not good transparency. NEAR also doesn’t document an offered bug bounty. This is a little bizarre given that Aurora, an L2 built on NEAR, offers $6m. Nonetheless, there’s a good track record of offering bug bounties (such as that USN mint error)."

Bugs/Exploits

  • On August 22, 2022 Rainbow Bridge experienced another attempted fake block injection which was caught by automated watchdogs.
  • From Blockthreat (12-8-2022):

"NEAR Protocol patched a data leak vulnerability in their wallet thanks to a responsible disclosure by Hacxyk."

"Aurora DELEGATECALL vulnerability disclosed, $200 million was at risk, $6 million bounty paid."

  • From Blockthreat (3-5-2022):

"On May 1, 2022 NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge experienced an attempted hack to inject a counterfeit block which was automatically caught by bridge watchdogs resulting in 2.5 ETH loss to the attacker."

Governance

"The NEAR network utilizes a Thresholded Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm for transaction execution. The minimum validator participation threshold is set algorithmically, with validators bidding for participation. In August, the NEAR Foundation introduced the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC), which aims to facilitate the decentralization of the NEAR ecosystem. The NDC will work in conjunction with the NEAR Foundation, Pagoda, and other ecosystem partners to establish a cohesive structure that allows the entire NEAR ecosystem to influence how it runs. The NDC's objectives include effective treasury management, validator operations, core development, transparent governance, increased brand recognition, support for core business units, and application layer development.

As part of decentralization of the development, NEAR launched Developer Governance DAO that currently encompasses 15 developer groups that lead ideation and implementation of various development projects from tooling to protocol research."

"Though the NEAR Protocol mainnet went live today and has already hit a million blocks (blocks are created quite a bit quicker than on the Bitcoin or Ethereum protocols), it currently has limited functionality. During this proof-of-authority phase, the network is run by just four nodes and a limited number of validators."

From CoinDesk (4-5-2020):

"The network will operate under a Proof-of-Authority (PoA) consensus algorithm administered by the NEAR Foundation and the 40 or so validators who purchased tokens from the foundation. The foundation will oversee token address creation and transactions until Phase 2 kicks in with fewer restrictions later this summer, according to a NEAR blog post. Phase 2 and Phase 3 will transition the blockchain to a PoS system and community governance following general testing."

"To maintain a bias for efficient execution, a highly qualified entity is needed to maintain the Reference Implementation of core protocol code. This maintainer, who is called the Reference Maintainer, should be selected and overseen by the community. All major releases will be protected with community discussion and a veto process (a 2 week challenge period), while smaller bug fixes can be rolled out fast and delivered to node operators. Initially, the Maintainer is selected by the Foundation Board and serves until the board votes to replace them. Over time, oversight of the Maintainer will be performed through a community-representing election process."

DAOs

"The NEAR Digital Collective (NDC) is a new governance body being developed for the NEAR ecosystem. First introduced in August 2022 by the NEAR Foundation, the NDC was further detailed in January 2023. To achieve this, the NDC is developing a governance structure with five key components:

  1. Voting Body: Every active NEAR account, as qualified by the governance framework.
  2. House of Merit: A group of experienced community members appointed by other members of the ecosystem to represent them during votes and key decisions.
  3. Council of Advisors: Advisors who help shape the direction of the House of Merit.
  4. Transparency Commission: Community members appointed to ensure the presence of checks and balances.
  5. Community Treasury: A decentralized treasury for the NEAR ecosystem that will allocate funds to support various grassroots initiatives. Its core purpose is to support and promote the operation and development of the NEAR blockchain, and there are various subsidiary purposes.

The development of the NEAR Digital Collective's governance structure is overseen by the Governance Working Group (GWG), a collection of community members working on refining the governance models. The NEAR Foundation is also a partner and contributor to the NDC, providing support and resources. To achieve its goals, the NDC has outlined a roadmap:

  1. NDC awareness and education.
  2. Community treasury launch.
  3. Finalize constitution and V1 framework based on community feedback.
  4. Voting mechanism launch.
  5. Adopt the constitution and V1 governance framework.
  6. Candidacy and election process.
  7. First congress held.

Overall, the NDC will be responsible for:

  1. Developing the NEAR Constitution.
  2. Implementing local and global on-chain decision-making.
  3. Establishing a repository of local and global on-chain journals, logs, and minutes.
  4. Setting up governing bodies, defining their operations, powers, and necessary checks and balances.
  5. Establishing and maintaining a community treasury with complete operating procedures and safeguards.
  6. Creating and maintaining Community Guidelines, Code of Conduct, and Dispute Resolution protocols.
  7. Implementing a communications strategy to increase accessibility to the work of the NDC and GWG.
  8. Developing a strategy to help the community access and use the NDC.
  9. Assisting in the development and implementation of a DAO Governance Model.
  10. Supporting the growth of the NEAR ecosystem."

"The NEAR Foundation has raised $500 million for ecosystem development and is actively working towards a more decentralized model of capital allocation. This will involve the creation of several DAOs, including the DeveloperDAO, MarketingDAO, CreativesDAO, with an additional DAO that will begin formation in Q1 of 2023. As a result of this change:

  1. The NEAR Foundation will no longer allocate capital directly from the inbound start-up grants program, with the exception of the current events grants, which will be handed over to the MarketingDAO when they are set up to manage them.
  2. In January and February, NEAR will be working directly with community members to outline a clear application process for funding via the DAOs, with processing time expected to take 6-8 weeks.
  3. Projects that have already received a portion of their funding and are working towards their agreed milestones will continue to be supported through the remaining milestones.
  4. Any application that is not already in the approval stage will not receive funding."

Ecosystem Treasury DAO

DeFi DAO

"With a devoted $350 million fund from Proximity Labs. A newly formed “DeFi DAO” will govern how those funds are spent, and protocols will be able to apply for liquidity mining programs via the DAO. Proximity is a group of early Near contributors that spun out of the parent company as an independent entity with funding from the Near Foundation."

Self Funding Treasury

"The NEAR Foundation published a Q3 Transparency Report highlighting kcapital deployment. Notable highlights include:

  1. Startup Funds – To help decentralize NEAR, the Foundation has decentralized capital deployment and allocated grant funds to MetaWeb, Lyric Capital, Stealth Capital, and Open Web Collective, each of which is focused on funding projects within the NEAR ecosystem according to their own vision. So far, the Foundation has committed $28 million, of which $10 million were allocated in Q4.
  2. Foundation Grants – Foundation Grants cover a broad range of investments from grant allocation to direct investment. Grants are primarily focused on the following verticals: Infrastructure & Integrations, Gaming & Entertainment, NFTs, and DAOs. In Q3, NEAR distributed $26 million to over 100 projects, including Mintbase, Circle, Satori, Clear Street, and OnMachina, as well as to Caerus to set up an Entertainment Venture Studio, bringing the total to $159 million.
  3. Regional Funds – NEAR Hubs host local events in local languages to find the best people and projects and to forge partnerships with local organizations. To date, NEAR Foundation has launched seven regional hubs Ukraine Hub, Kenya Hub, Balkans Hub, India Hub, South Korea Hub, US Hub, and an extension for the Balkans Hub and the launch of the US hub were announced in Q3."
  • Aurora launched a $90 million developer fund to boost DeFi on Near Protocol (13-5-2022).
  • From their blog (23-4-2020):

"We believe in sustainable development. We allocate 10% of epoch rewards to the treasury. This treasury account is designed to continue sponsoring protocol and ecosystem development. Over the long term, it should be managed by a decentralized governance process.

Before that is fully established, we allocate the custody of this to the NEAR Foundation. As decentralized governance progresses and clearly shows that it can effectively manage execution, we strongly suggest for the network to hard fork and change the custody of the treasury to a new entity."

Token

Launch

"It has only had institutional and private investors. It is not listed on any exchange, so it has not been tested to market conditions."

"The NEAR team announced that its token offering sold out in roughly two hours, distributing 100 million NEAR tokens in the process. But technical issues with CoinList, the site that hosted the sale, prevented over 6,000 registered applications from participating. Therefore, CoinList is holding a second NEAR token sale (which will run from Aug. 18-25, 2020) just for verified participants that were not able to acquire tokens the first time around. These investors will be allowed to purchase up to 3,000 NEAR tokens each at the original sale price. CoinList also plans to donate $750,000 to the NEAR community fund, which the NEAR Foundation plans to match. These funds will be used to help seed and support future projects on NEAR."

Token allocation

  • From their blog (19-6-2020):

"There were 1 billion NEAR tokens created at genesis. They are being allocated to individuals and organizations on an ongoing basis during the rollout of MainNet. Inflation, transfers and unlocking do not begin until the final phase of MainNet. The initial circulating supply is roughly 57,500,000 tokens."

Lockups

  • From their blog (19-6-2020):

"The vast majority of tokens are subject to lockups. These lockups are implemented as contract-based locks atop various accounts. Lockups are generally implemented in a linear, per-block fashion instead of in monthly chunks, though some might be implemented that way as well. Lockups begin unlocking when the transition to the final Community-Governed MainNet phase occurs. The number of validating nodes depends on the number of shards in the network but will start at 100. Because of NEAR’s account model, tokens can be staked or delegated even while they are locked. The Foundation is only actively running nodes during the initial phase of the network rollout. Thereafter, as noted in this post, it will shut down its nodes and be limited to delegation.  It will only delegate tokens in its endowment. All supply that existed at genesis is unlocked by month 60."

New Issuance

"5% of additional supply is issued each year to support the network as epoch rewards, of which 90% goes to validators (4.5% total) and 10% to the protocol treasury (0.5% total).  30% of transaction fees are rebated to the contracts touched by the transaction and 70% are burned. New supply creation does not begin until the transition to the final Community-Governed MainNet phase occurs."

Inflation

  • According to a Messari report (Q3-2023) it has 4.9% inflation at that time.

Utility

"Each token can be used to: 

  1. Pay the system for processing transactions and storing data.
  2. Run a validating node as part of the network by participating in the staking process.
  3. Help determine how network resources are allocated and where its future technical direction will go by participating in governance processes."
  • From their blog (23-4-2020):

"As the native currency, it secures the network, provides a unit of account and medium of exchange for native resources and third-party applications, and, over the long term, aims to become a store of value used by individuals as well as by contracts and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications."

Burns

  • From their blog (23-4-2020):

"The utility of the network is provided by storing application data and providing a way to change it by issuing transactions. The network charges transaction fees for processing the changes to this stored data. The NEAR network collects and automatically burns these fees, such that higher usage of the network will both increase the incentives to run validating nodes (as they receive higher real yield) and increase the “Store of Value” properties of Ⓝ.

On the other hand, Ⓝ is also used as collateral for storing data on the blockchain. Having 1 Ⓝ on an account allows the user to store some amount of data (the specific amount depends on the available storage but will increase over time). This also increases the “Store of Value” properties of Ⓝ."

Other digital assets

"The platform is designed to easily store unique digital assets which may include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Other Tokens: Tokens bridged from other chains (“wrapped”) or created atop the NEAR Platform can be easily stored and moved using the underlying platform.  This allows many kinds of tokens to be used atop the platform to pay for goods and services. “Stablecoins,” specific kinds of token which are designed to match the price of another asset (like the US Dollar), are particularly useful for transacting on the network in this way.
  2. Unique Digital Assets: Similar to tokens, digital assets (sometimes called “Non Fungible Tokens” (NFTs) ranging from in-game collectibles to representations of real-world asset ownership can be stored and moved using the platform."

Tech

  • Whitepaper can be found here (Late-2019).
  • Code can be viewed here (18-7-2020).
  • Programming language used (from their whitepaper (Late-2019):

"NEAR nodes run Web Assembly (WASM), which can be compiled from a host of popular languages. Initially, smart contracts can be built using Rust, a very secure and comprehensive programming language that is rapidly gaining popularity. NEAR also supports contracts written in AssemblyScript which is very similar to TypeScript, a Microsoft-developed modification of JavaScript that has types and a very broad adoption among developers. In the future, more common programming languages will be supported so developers don’t have to learn an entirely new language to build applications atop the platform. To provide a great experience for developers, NEAR has a full SDK which includes standard data structures, examples and testing tools for these two languages.

Gitpod for NEAR: NEAR uses existing technology Gitpod to create zero time onboarding experience for developers. Gitpod provides an online “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE), which NEAR customized to allow developers to easily write, test and deploy smart contracts from a web browser.  The NEAR Examples website contains templates that can be deployed in one-click to make the process of building on NEAR for both new and old developers as simple as possible."

"NEAR supports smart contracts targeting both WebAssembly (Rust, AssemblyScript) and the EVM (Solidity, Vyper)"

 Transaction Details

"A portion of the fees generated by a particular transaction are provided back to the contracts that were run during that transaction.  This “Contract Reward” may be distributed in accordance with the rules specified in the contract, for example it may be allocated to an account controlled  by the contract developer, by investors, by a DAO, etc.  

The percentage of fees which are allocated to this reward is set to a minimum value as system-level parameter, initially 30%.  Developers always can charge extra outside of this mechanism by requiring user to attach funds to the call."

  1. "Usage of the network consumes two separate kinds of resources — instantaneous and long term.  Instantaneous costs are generated by every transaction because each transaction requires the usage of both the network itself and some of its computation resources. These are priced together as a mostly-predictable cost per transaction, which is paid in NEAR tokens.
  2. Storage Costs: Storage is a long term cost because storing data represents an ongoing burden to the nodes of the network.  Storage costs are covered by maintaining minimum balance of NEAR tokens on the account or contract. This provides an indirect mechanism of payment via inflation to validators for maintaining contract and account state on their nodes.

Developers prefer predictable pricing so they can budget and provide prices for their end users. The pricing for the above-mentioned resources [Computation, Bandwidth and Storage] on NEAR is an amount which is slowly adjusted based on system usage (and subject to the smoothing effect of resharding when usage grew sustainably) rather than being fully auction-based. This means that a developer can more predictably know that the cost of running transactions or maintaining their storage.

Initially, all of these resources will be priced and paid in terms of NEAR tokens. In the future, they may also be priced in terms of a stable currency denomination (for example a token pegged to the $USD).

The current gas price is predictable but not fixed. Each block, it is adjusted in the following way:

  1. If the prior block is more than half full, the gas price from the previous block is increased by an amount given by the parameter called `alpha`.
  2. If the prior block is less than half full, the gas price from the previous block is decreased by an amount also given by the parameter called `alpha`.

Gas usage can trigger Resharding.

Storage is a long-term scarce asset. For an application or users to use it, they must maintain a minimum balance on their account that scales linearly with amount of storage such account takes. The required amount of NEAR tokens per byte is fixed and is subject to change only by major governance decision (and, given trends in storage hardware and system capacity, it will likely be adjusted down going forward). 

How it works

"NEAR Protocol is a smart contract platform that utilizes a Thresholded Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm to execute transactions."

"NEAR Protocol shards within each block, which results in a 1 to 2-second finality for a cross-shard transaction. With Nightshade, there are no shard chains; instead, all the block producers and validators are building a single blockchain"

  • From their blog (19-6-2020):

"It is built atop a brand new public, proof-of-stake blockchain which uses a novel consensus mechanism called Doomslug and a new sharding approach called Nightshade which splits the network into multiple pieces so that the computation is done in parallel and there is no theoretical limit on capacity."

  • A simple explanation video on Nightshade can be found here (27-11-2019).
  • Doomslug: "block confirmation with single round of communication, and a finality gadget with guaranteed liveness"
  • "NEAR’s randomness approach is unbiasable, unpredictable  and can tolerate up to 1/3 of malicious actors before liveness is affected and 2/3 of malicious actors before any one can actually influence its output."
  • From their whitepaper (Late-2019):

"The platform can be interfaced with permissionlessly.  As long as the rules of the protocol are followed, any independent developer can write software which interfaces with it (for example, by submitting transactions, creating accounts or even running a new node client) without asking for anyone’s permission first."

"NEAR protocol is a Layer 1sharded proof of stake open blockchain that claims to solve the scalability problems that other blockchains like Ethereum face. They also claim to be more developer-friendly (you can check their tools here). The first phase of their protocol is powered by a Proof-of-Authority algorithm (hence the name of its chain, MainNet: POA) and is administered by the NEAR Foundation and the 40 or so validators who purchased tokens.

The MainNet: POA is running on just 3 foundation nodes instead of the 4 stated on their announcement post for this phase, compared with Ethereum and Bitcoin’s thousands of nodes. This is the first of three phases before NEARN is fully permissionless and functional. The second phase, which will include whitelisted validators and apps deployed through the Foundation Developer Program, is expected to launch between June and August, while the release date of the final phase, where anyone can join the network and deploy dapps, is still TBD."

Sharding

"NEAR is a horizontally scalable network that utilizes a sharding design called Nightshade. The implementation of Nightshade is divided into four phases, starting with Phase 0, which split the network into four data shards and required validators to store and validate transactions from all shards. With the launch of Phase 1 in September, a new role was introduced: chunk-only producers, who only validate a single shard, increasing the network's validator capacity and decentralization. Nightshade's two remaining phases, Phase 2 and Phase 3, will bring full data and processing sharding and dynamic resharding, respectively."

  • 4 Shards will go live on 15-11-2021.
  • From their blog (15-11-2021):

"Early in 2022, Phase 1 will begin. In this phase, we introduce a new role: chunk-only producers, who only validate one shard. They produce chunks (shard blocks) for some specific shard and only need to run inexpensive hardware, without sacrificing the security of the network.

The introduction of chunk-only producers also helps increase the total number of validators and improve the decentralization of NEAR as a whole. Once this phase is complete, we will have 200-400 validators and only a fraction of them (block producers) need to run more expensive hardware. We expect to deliver phase 1 in January 2022."

In this phase, we finish the implementation of challenges, thereby eliminating the need for any validators to track all the shards. Once this step is completed, both state and processing will be fully sharded. This will also further lower the hardware requirements of running a block producer on NEAR, making the network more accessible for validators. We expect to deliver phase 2 in Q3 2022.

After phase 2 is complete, we will have a fully functional sharded mainnet with a fixed number of shards. In phase 3, we want to expand on that and create the ability for the network to dynamically split and merge shards based on resource utilization. This will make NEAR almost infinitely scalable and resilient to short-term usage spikes. We expect to deliver phase 3 in Q4 2022."

"At launch, we are going to configure the network to 1 shard since it is unnecessary to have more. As network usage grows, a hard fork into 2 or more shards can happen based on a community vote. At that point, the number of shards are just a parameter in the genesis configuration. We have a design for Dynamic resharding that will be implemented in upcoming releases, allowing the system to change the number of shards dynamically based on load.

In parallel with MainNet “Restricted” launch, we are going to be running the first BetaNet and then TestNet with at least 8 shards to test performance and tooling. Validators should join these networks to establish that their setup scales properly before MainNet scales to that."

"The system knows approximate limits on transaction usage per shard (the “gas limit”) as well as expected per-node storage. If the amount of resources used in the previous epoch exceeded a particular threshold (eg if a large number of blocks are more than half full), a number of new shards will be allocated, increasing the number of buckets and averaging down each of their expected usages.

Adding new shards also means there will be more seats available for validation, which in turn brings more unique validators to the table as the per-seat price (in NEAR tokens) goes down. This computation is performed one epoch in advance of actually using these new shards so validators have the time they need to re-sync the necessary state and other shard information.

A key disadvantage of an unsophisticated sharded blockchain system is that the overall system security is split because only a portion of the network’s validators are validating the transactions of a particular shard.  NEAR employs two ways to counteract this problem: “Hidden Validators” and “Fishermen”.

“Hidden Validators” are validators who are selected from the general validator pool and are assigned to validate shards that are unknown to any parties except themselves. This process, which is described in greater detail in other sections, ensures that it is extremely difficult to successfully corrupt a sufficient number of nodes to perfrom malicious behaviors in a shard.

Hidden Validators are compensated for validating and signing off on the validity of chunks and blocks as a normal part of the validator compensation process.

“Fishermen” are observing nodes who permissionlessly detect and report bad behavior.  These nodes are synced with the network but are not necessarily participating in the consensus and don’t actually get paid for any specific ongoing activity.  They can include wallet operators, application developers or exchange infrastructure. These nodes validate parts of the chain that are important to them and, if they detect issues, they can flag those issues via challenge. To prevent “griefing” of challenges, a small bond of 10 NEAR must be posted ahead of time.

The system does not provide any reward for operating a node as a Fisherman (there is no reward for sending a successful challenge). Instead, participants who run a Fisherman node generally have outside motivations for maintaining the security of the network."

Private Shards

"Not all blockchain use cases demand the full security and protection of the public chain for each transaction.  Sometimes a consortium of users or even a single entity would prefer to run their own chain, where they control all of the validation and periodically checkpoint back to the main chain for security or verification and communication of activity.  In this case, particular shards could potentially be configured to use a special predetermined validator set, thus making them “private”."

Fees

  • Unlike Ethereum's auction-style system, NEAR adjusts fees based on the network's compute and bandwidth utilization.
  • From a commissioned Messari report (30-1-2023):

"Total transactions are up 50% YoY while average transaction fees remain below one cent. NEAR's transaction fees adjust based on network compute and bandwidth and 70% of them are burned while the remaining 30% are distributed to the contract from which the transaction originated."

Upgrades

  • "Sharding Phase 1: Chunk-producer only, just went live a few weeks back" (17-10-2022)
  • 4 Shards will go live on 15-11-2021. Did not happen as of 10-2022.
  • "The NEAR Protocol is now (14-10-2020) operating as a fully permissioned and decentralized network meaning that developers and other users alike now have open access to the network to deploy apps or transfer tokens."
  • They successfully transitioned to phase 2 of Mainnet today, Oct. 13, following an unexpected vote from the network’s validators, NEAR Protocol co-founder Illia Polosukhin told CoinDesk in a phone interview.
  • Phase 1 is completed (24-9-2020). Foundation's nodes are not running the network anymore:

"At this point, dozens of independent node operators currently run the NEAR network. The transition to Phase I means that the network is now community operated but it is still technically restricted from allowing token transfers between participants and there are no block rewards being offered.  The first task of this new set of community operators will be to exercise their governance power to vote to enable each of these things, which will transition the network into its final stage, “MainNet Phase II: Community-Governed.”"

"Transitioning NEAR MainNet to the Next Phase: It is Time to Stake, Delegate and Vote: As announced in April by this roadmap blog post, NEAR is entering into Phase I, called “MainNet Restricted.” This transition will be complete on September 24th."

Staking 

  • From their blog (23-4-2020):

"Validators as a group are paid fixed 90% of around 5% of total supply annualized (other 10% go to Protocol Treasury)."

"The threshold for participating in the system is set algorithmically at the lowest level possible to allow for the broadest possible participation of validating nodes in a given “epoch” period (½ of a day).

Using a minimum balance of NEAR on the account leads to this amount not being staked or used in other applications. Validators are getting paid indirectly for maintaining this storage from inflation and the fact that total stake is smaller.

Validators are chosen based on the “Thresholded Proof of Stake” model which uses an auction to determine how many “seats” will be allocated to each prospective validator (by determining the minimum threshold number of tokens for a single seat). This auction is designed to provide fair (equal opportunity) allocation and allow as many people as possible to participate in the network’s validation process so it can achieve meaningful decentralization.

A given validator may become one of several possible roles:

  1. Block producers – validate transactions on all shards, with a maximum of 100.
  2. Chunk-only producers – validate transactions on one shard, with a maximum of 200.
  3. Hidden validators – act as third-party monitors for illicit activity. (Note: hidden validators are not currently live as of 1-2023.)

Independent of the role the validator is assigned, its reward will be proportional to the percentage of total amount staked by the validator.  This means there is no need to pool stake under a minimum required to become a validator."

“The main way to become a validator at MainNet “Restricted” phase is to participate in the upcoming revision of Stake Wars and be an active validator of TestNet. There will be tutorials published on Github and already now you can run your nodes on Betanet. Specifically, Stake Wars 2.0 will be around delegations, so as a participant in Stake Wars you will be able to learn how to set up delegation smart contracts and invite people to delegate to you.“

  • From their blog (30-10-2020):

"In just a few weeks, more than 250 million NEAR tokens have been staked, representing 25% of all NEAR in existence."

Slashing

"For an example of a double sign which leads to slashing, assume a validator has 1% of the total tokens which have been staked in a particular epoch.  Assuming the total amount of tokens staked in the epoch is 50,000,000 NEAR, this validator has 500,000 NEAR at stake. If that validator double signs and there are no other double signs, the validator will lose 3% of their stake in that epoch, so they will have 485,000 of NEAR returned to them and 15,000 NEAR will be burned.  If the total amount of stake that double signed within an epoch reaches 33% (which becomes dangerous for the network), the entire stake of all involved parties will be slashed."

“Slashing is disabled at launch. At launch, the network will operate with an honest supermajority assumption. Going forward, slashing conditions for violating BFT finality and producing invalid state transitions will be added via normal governance procedures.”

Validator Stats

  • As of Q1 2023, NEAR surpassed 200 active validators, indicating continued decentralization of the network.
  • From a commissioned Messari report (30-1-2023):

"In September, Phase-1 of Nighsharding was launched on the mainnet, tripling the network's validator capacity. This was achieved by introducing chunk-only producers, with a maximum of 200, in addition to the existing 100 block producers. As a result, the total number of validators increased by 31% QoQ to 155. However, the percentage of the circulating supply staked decreased by 6% QoQ to 57% (equivalent to 485 million NEAR)."

"~100 nodes currently and plans to make validation more inclusive via “chunk-only producers”, which should significantly reduce hardware requirements."

"NEAR Protocol is (as of writing) on blockheight 33,012,780 with 181 online nodes (60 validating). Current stake volume is ~400m (staking locked NEAR of a total 1b NEAR), with 25% from the top 5 validators."

Different Implementations

Interoperability

Rainbow Bridge

"The Ethereum<>NEAR bridge is going to be implemented as mutual smart contract based light client, thus would provide full security of respective networks for the bridge. Currentlty, building NEAR smart contract and relayer for Ethereum blockchain light verification."

  • According to their Engineering Weekly (1-6-2020), the bridge should work for ERC20-NEAR. Has been tested on testnet, and should work or mainnet as well, says one of their devs.
  • Went live (7-4-2021).
  • From Blockthreat (3-5-2022):

"On May 1, 2022 NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge experienced an attempted hack to inject a counterfeit block which was automatically caught by bridge watchdogs resulting in 2.5 ETH loss to the attacker."

Other Details

EIP-1559

"At first glance, NEAR has copied EIP-1559 exactly. For example, the maximum fee change per block in Ethereum is 12.5%, and the block time is 12-13 seconds. In NEAR, the maximum change is 1% at 1 second block time.

On second sight, there are two big differences in NEAR:

  1. Users are not allowed to tip (incentivize) block producers in-protocol.
  2. It pays 30% of the base fee to smart contracts.

NEAR’s solutions not only don’t improve the outcome but actively make it worse.

By banning fees paid to block producers, they encourage forming a “black market” for transaction priority. By adding a forced rent to app developers, they can’t change the true market price for transactions but merely force apps to refund their users."

Privacy Method

  • Near will integrate Nym Technologies’ data privacy and encryption services for users and DApps operating across its ecosystem (1-11-2023).
  • From their whitepaper (Late-2019):

"[ zero knowledge proofs ] technology isn’t baked into the NEAR platform day 1 but, should the community drive for it, it is possible to implement."

Compliance

"Ontology will support the development and deployment of NEAR's Decentralized Identifier (DID) solution with an eye on regulatory compliance."

Oracle Method

Their Other Projects

Aurora

"Aurora patched critical vulnerabilities in its withdrawal logic and another transfer fee logic thanks to two responsible disclosures through Immunefi."

  • From Blockthreat (17-6-2022):

"Aurora fixed an infinite spend bug thanks to a responsible disclosure by pwning.eth."

“We rewrote all of the EVM logic and compiled it as WASM bytecode, so it’s executing within the WASM piece of Near runtime. Now it’s a near-native contract, there’s nothing special about EVM-contract. Just adding EVM into Near core would introduce a lot of complexity”.

So it’s important to note that Aurora is not a chain, but an EVM environment on Near (even though it has its own block explorer). That’s why the Near-Aurora bridge is not a bridge between chains as such, but a bridge between runtimes. This technological design influences the business strategy: Aurora does not have validators and its token does not secure the network."

  • From Ansem's Q1 report (1-1-2022):

"The fees on Aurora are abstracted away from the users and it is easily accessible through the Aurora Bridge and other bridges like Allbridge. Most of the activity on NEAR is on Aurora for now, but I expect that to change with projects that launch following NEAR’s $800M ecosystem fund."

"Aurora––launched this week––allows developers to use NEAR the same way they use Ethereum, entirely through MetaMask, using ERC20 tokens, and even paying gas costs in ETH."

  • From the NEAR blog (12-5-2021):

"Aurora is implemented as a smart contract on the NEAR blockchain. As per the outcome of the discussion on the Aurora base token, the EVM runtime will maintain native balances in Ether (ETH). This means that a user should move their ETH over the Aurora Bridge before sending any other transactions.

In order not to confuse users, the team decided that the Aurora contract will implement a fungible token interface, which will represent the user’s ETH balance in both the NEAR base runtime and the Aurora runtime. Users should be able to withdraw and deposit ETH to NEAR, and this will be implemented as a separate bridge connector interface, which underneath will speak to the core bridge contracts."

BOS

"The NEAR Foundation introduced the Blockchain Operating System (BOS) in March. It's a common layer for browsing and discovering open web experiences that's compatible with any blockchain. The BOS empowers developers to code interfaces in a single environment and fork components to build apps more efficiently. Developers can deliver decentralized and composable front ends by forking pieces, components, and built-ins without hosting. End users can discover all of Web3's possibilities in one seamless experience, and the system works with any blockchain or Web2 backend."

NEAR Data Availability Layer

"Hot off the press at NEARCON23, NEAR DA is set to launch to offer secure, cost-effective data availability for ETH rollups. NEAR DA marks NEAR's entry into the modular blockchain landscape with the lowest-cost DA offering in the Web3 market today. It's a game-changer for projects building Ethereum rollups. Posting rollup data on NEAR is 8,000 times cheaper than on Ethereum. With powerhouses like @Starknet, @Calderaxyz, @fluentxyz, @vistaralabs, @dymension, and @movementlabsxyz joining the initial launch."

USN (winded down)

  • Got publicly outed by Wintermute for not paying back their USN hole that Wintermute covered after Alameda went down (8-11-2023). Interestingly enough multiple NEAR partnership announcements were released around the same days, potentially doing damage control.
  • From a commissioned Messari report (30-1-2023):

"Despite not receiving financial assistance from the NEAR Foundation, to safeguard users and facilitate the orderly wind down, the NEAR Foundation allocated $40 million for a grant for the USN Protection Programme."

"Decentral Bank, the [organization] behind the Near-native USN stablecoin, is unwinding the project, it said on Oct. 24. The reason: USN has become undercollateralized by around $40M. Decentral permanently halted new USN minting. USN holders can redeem their tokens for USDT through the USN Protection Programme, which is backed by a grant from the Near Foundation. Decentral also withdrew its USN liquidity from the decentralized exchange, Ref.finance, destroying 40M USN and contributing to a 50% drop in Ref.finance’s total value locked over 24 hours."

"How does $USN maintain its peg? Through on-chain arbitrage and a self-balancing Reserve Fund. What is Decentral Bank? DAO managing the $USN Reserve Fund & main smart contract operations. The DAO can vote to stake $NEAR from the Reserve Fund, meaning $USN will automatically generate yield based on NEAR staking rewards. Thus, minimum $USN yield = NEAR staking APY (~11%)."

Roadmap

"NEAR is pushing forward with its goal of helping Web2 applications and communities transition to Web3, also known as Web2.5. To achieve this, NEAR has set out several strategies:

  1. To increase usage, NEAR is focusing on partnerships and has established collaborations with major companies such as Google Cloud, Sweat Economy, and Grupo Nutresa.
  2. To engage the community and further decentralize, NEAR is launching the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC). Additionally, NEAR is decentralizing capital deployment via multiple DAOs and planning on forming an early-stage accelerator that will provide support to promising projects.
  3. To scale, NEAR's developers will continue to improve the technical infrastructure. The release of Phase 2 of sharding, scheduled for late 2023, will be essential to this scaling effort. This update will increase the network's capacity to 100 shards, with no validators tracking all shards.

The overarching objective for the ecosystem in 2023 is to reach 10 million monthly active accounts by the end of the year. To achieve this, NEAR will focus on product development for NEAR Discovery, building a strong community from the ground up, forming strategic partnerships through the NEAR Foundation, and continuously improving the user experience and onboarding process for Web3."

  • From their blog (15-11-2021):

"Early in 2022, Phase 1 will begin. In this phase, we introduce a new role: chunk-only producers, who only validate one shard. They produce chunks (shard blocks) for some specific shard and only need to run inexpensive hardware, without sacrificing the security of the network.

The introduction of chunk-only producers also helps increase the total number of validators and improve the decentralization of NEAR as a whole. Once this phase is complete, we will have 200-400 validators and only a fraction of them (block producers) need to run more expensive hardware. We expect to deliver phase 1 in January 2022."

In this phase, we finish the implementation of challenges, thereby eliminating the need for any validators to track all the shards. Once this step is completed, both state and processing will be fully sharded. This will also further lower the hardware requirements of running a block producer on NEAR, making the network more accessible for validators. We expect to deliver phase 2 in Q3 2022.

After phase 2 is complete, we will have a fully functional sharded mainnet with a fixed number of shards. In phase 3, we want to expand on that and create the ability for the network to dynamically split and merge shards based on resource utilization. This will make NEAR almost infinitely scalable and resilient to short-term usage spikes. We expect to deliver phase 3 in Q4 2022."

  • From this article (14-10-2020):

"With the Phase 2 mainnet deployment now completed, the NEAR dev team says it will focus on improving its wallet as well as the sharding algorithm. Other planned upgrades include the development of a bridge protocol with the Ethereum (ETH) network and subsequent deployment on the mainnet."

  • Can be found here (21-4-2020). This roadmap only focuses on the first phases of the Mainnet and stops after 2020.

Revenue

  • During Q1 2023, NEAR's revenue, measured by total gas fees spent, amounted to $120,000. It declined to $98k in Q2. By Q1 2024 it had increased to $1.9M.

Usage

"With 15.69M monthly active wallets, NEAR now has more active users [read: wallets] than the next two most popular chains combined (Polygon and Solana). HOT, a Telegram-based wallet on NEAR, leads with 1.4M daily active wallets, followed by KaiKai, a consumer shopping app with 975K. This rapid growth prompted the NEAR Protocol team to add 2 more shards to the existing 4 last month."

"Despite the difficult market conditions, NEAR continued to see strong growth in network activity in Q4. Daily active accounts reached an all-time high and increased by nearly 3X compared to the previous year. Total transactions also saw a rise Quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and were up 50% year-over-year (YoY). This was accompanied by an average of less than one cent in transaction fees. While the number of new accounts saw a decrease QoQ, likely due to the launch of the Sweat Economy generating significant interest, it remained consistent with previous quarters. The increase was driven by the launch of Sweatcoin as Sweat Economy in July. In Q4, the momentum continued as Sweat surpassed 16 million unique wallets, 4 million daily active users, and 200 million SWEAT staked.

Electric Capital's annual developer report recently featured the NEAR network, highlighting a 22% increase in full-time developers and a 40% increase in total developers in 2022. Additionally, the report noted that the NEAR network has seen over 20X growth in total developers since 2018, growing from less than 50 to over 600. The report also ranked NEAR alongside Solana and Polygon as having the highest number of monthly active developers and the fastest pace of growth in 2022 outside of Ethereum.

Despite the bear market, the TVL on the NEAR Network has remained steady, with a quarterly decrease of 10% but a YoY increase of 160%, from 43 million to 113 million. This is particularly impressive considering the discontinuation of the USN stablecoin in Q4. The leading protocol by TVL on NEAR is the DEX Ref Finance with $54 million TVL. Ref’s TVL was dramatically affected by the USN news, losing 50% overnight as users rushed to swap their USN for USDT. Despite this, trading volume has remained steady and Ref Finance continues to lead the DEX space on NEAR. Notable investors in Ref Finance include Jump Crypto and Dragonfly Capital. The second-largest protocol by TVL is Bastion. Bastion, which lives on Aurora, is a lending and stableswap protocol. Bastion uses a cToken model, similar to Compound, and ended Q4 with $45 million in TVL.

The third-largest protocol by TVL on NEAR is Burrow. Burrow is a decentralized, non-custodial interest rate platform that allows users to deposit assets to earn interest, and borrow against them for liquidity, similar to Aave, Compound, and other pool-based protocols. Burrow closed Q4 with around $15 million in TVL and has notable investors such as Jump Crypto, Dragonfly, Parafi, and others.

The interest in NFTs peaked in Q1 2022, following the launch of Paras Comic, a marketplace for artists to publish comic-related NFTs. The Antisocial Ape Club and NEARNauts, the top two collections on NEAR, are available on Paras Marketplace and account for 18% and 35% of all NEAR NFT sales, respectively."

"Back in November, Trisolaris (a Sushiswap fork) was pretty much the only used protocol on Aurora and nearly the entirety of Aurora’s $150M TVL. This was mostly the case throughout 2022 until the launch of two more primitives – the money markets Bastion and Aurigami. From the end of February until now these two have driven Aurora’s TVL by $1B to sit at ~$1.4B total. The Aurora EVM has close to 3x the native Near TVL today (in fact, if you go to Defi Llama, Aurora shows up in the main section whereas you need to dig through the filter to find Near)."

  • From Our Network (10-7-2021):

"The network hit the mark of 10M total transactions last month."

  • From Our Network (15-5-2021):

"Since launching mainnet last year, the total number of accounts on NEAR has grown to 179,240 accounts as of May 11. The rate of growth was 225% through April. The daily transaction count on NEAR exploded in the month of April, reaching as high as 100k per day in recent weeks. Just weeks after listing on DappRadar in April, NEAR already has 4 apps ranked in the top 10 in the exchange and marketplace categories. The number of users engaging with these apps, Ref Finance, NEARNames, Paras and Pulse, has been growing rapidly, with average MoM growth reaching 600%."

"NEAR processed an avg of 15,734 transactions in the past 14 days with blocks being validated in ~1s. Transaction volume picked up October 2020 and has been sustained (spikes excluded) with a slight uptick in March 2021. Gas paid for transactions broadly mirrors this trend (except with the majority of transactions being low-cost). A large chunk of March volume has come from NEAR’s bridge relayer. The number of daily active accounts on NEAR has been rising since launch (up to ~1000 now) and active contracts have hovered around 300. The amount of new NEAR Protocol contracts deployed on its mainnet increased by 6,116 over the past 5 months. "

Projects that use or built on it

  1. "TessaB, a second-hand mobile phone marketplace with traceability solutions built on its own Tessa blockchain.
  2. 1inch, a DEX aggregator built at ETH New York in 2019.
  3. Flux Protocol, an open market protocol & prediction market
  4. Stardust, a revenue-sharing secondary marketplace, and game explorer for gamers

To further spur development, NEAR is running a Github hosted online hackathon in the context of the Ready Layer One conference, with more than 130 participants signed up, similar to Ethereum’s latest hackathon, ETHLondon."

  • Ampleforth; "Ampleforth is set to launch on Polkadot, NEAR, and TRON within the next few months"
  • Balancer will build on NEAR (26-10-2020). This never materialized, however, Holdr, did launch, see below.
  • Berry Club; a yield farming app that lets you draw with pixels and earn 🥑 tokens.
  • Few and Far – An NFT marketplace with launchpad services, minting tools, outbound marketing, and more for NFTs, DeFi, and gaming, which has over 1,000 collections, 350,000 NFTs, and 30+ partnerships, and is backed by investors such as Pantera, Hypersphere, Huobi, and others.
  • Holdr; Friendly y of Balancer (announced on 14-12-2022). It has gotten grants of both Aurora and NEAR.
  • Mintbase (23-12-2020).
  • MoonSwap has said it will also build on NEAR (24-11-2020).
  • NEARNames; (15-5-2021)
  • NFT.hiphop
  • Octopus Network
  • Paras; an NFT digital art card marketplace powered by NEAR and IPFS (23-12-2020).
  • PlayEmber – A Web3 monetization platform connecting brands, studios and game studios, which already has over 100 million downloads, 5 million monthly active users, and 1.5 million hours played.
  • Prosper; will integrate (18-12-2020) on NEAR in Q2 2021.
  • Pulse; (15-5-2021)
  • Ref Finance; (15-5-2021). From Our Network (10-7-2021): "Liquidity recently eclipsed $1.6 million, led by the SKYWARD-NEAR pair with over $1 million. The total number of unique pools also grew, reaching 134 total pairs."
  • SeatlabNFT – An NFT ticketing marketplace with the goal of revolutionizing the event ticketing industry by addressing secondary market issues, enabling the sale of NFT collectibles for specific events, and implementing features such as royalty splits, to improve the overall ticketing experience for customers.
  • Unmarshal; the website mentions support (29-3-2021).
  • Zed.Run

Competition

"The primary differentiator of Near is its dynamic sharding architecture. The goal of this design is for users and developers to not have to be cognizant of which shard they are on. Instead, validators dynamically (every 12 hours or so) determine which txs will be grouped together based on statistical analysis, effectively adding/removing shards in a seamless manner."

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

  • Got publicly outed by Wintermute for not paying back their USN hole that Wintermute covered after Alameda went down (8-11-2023). Interestingly enough multiple NEAR partnership announcements were released around the same days, potentially doing damage control.
  • Had investment from Alameda Research/FTX, which came out (11-11-2022) during the FTX crash. This could mean fall-out risk since these ~80M worth of tokens will likely be sold due to bankruptcy. "In light of the uncertainty, the NEAR Foundation addressed the community. They announced that they did not hold any treasury funds on FTX and that FTX and Alameda had limited exposure to NEAR tokens." Update (4-2023): NEAR's Q1 2023 total value locked (TVL) declined by 32% QoQ to $97 million, primarily due to a wallet associated with Alameda removing liquidity and closing DeFi positions."
  • From Delphi Digital (8-9-2022):

"The architecture also does have some drawbacks; smart contracts must communicate using asynchronous patterns since they are not guaranteed to be part of the same shard. In fact, even today, when Near operates on a single shard, app developers have to perform async smart contract calls. DeFi applications typically require the precise coordination of many contracts, and asynchrony can introduce additional complexity, failure modes, and time to finality. For example, a liquidation involves at least 3 different smart contracts working together (the money market, an oracle, and an exchange). Asynchrony between these components introduces additional latency and safety assumptions that could impact the market’s solvency. The Near community and ecosystem are not as robust as others, with very little in the way of a DeFi ecosystem to integrate with right now."

  • Due to its token distribution, it could be considered a VC chain.
  • From Capital Gram (27-5-2021):

"The toolchain cannot compile multiple smart contracts in a single project, but you need to create a new Rust library for each contract. If you are a senior developer you know this kind of project structuring is just insanity."

"NEAR’s solutions not only don’t improve the outcome but actively make it worse. By banning fees paid to block producers, they encourage forming a “black market” for transaction priority. By adding a forced rent to app developers, they can’t change the true market price for transactions but merely force apps to refund their users."

Team, Funding, Partners

Team

"The NEAR Foundation recently said it has let go of 35 workers (40%) as part of a realignment exercise that sees it “focus on a narrower and higher-impact set of activities.” The foundation’s CEO insisted that the job cuts did not in any way indicate that his organization was facing financial challenges."

Funding

From a commissioned Messari report (5-2024):

"The NEAR Foundation maintains a treasury containing over $285 million in fiat, 305 million NEAR (worth over $1 billion), and $70 million of investments and loans."

"NEAR has raised over $500 million for ecosystem development."

  • Gave Solace grants, both as NEAR and as Aurora (2022).
  • Had ~80M investment from Alameda and FTX in exchange for tokens.
  • Created a $800M fund (25-10-2021) with major tranches earmarked for specific purposes, including:
    • $250 million in ecosystem grants that will be distributed over four years
    • A regional fund of $100 million
    • $100 million specifically for startups
    • Additionally, decentralized finance (DeFi) is a major focus of the program, with a devoted $350 million fund from Proximity Labs. A newly formed “DeFi DAO” will govern how those funds are spent, and protocols will be able to apply for liquidity mining programs via the DAO. Proximity is a group of early Near contributors that spun out of the parent company as an independent entity with funding from the Near Foundation.
    • Raised $150m (14-1-2022).
    • Is mentioned as a partner and investor to Octopus Network on their website (14-3-2022).
  • Covalent; the firm was part of a $2M round for Covalent (26-3-2021).
  • Is backing accelerator program Startup Studio
  • Is part of the portfolio of MultiCoin (25-11-2020).
  • Is being backed by Coinbase.
  • From their blog (19-6-2020):

"No single backer holds above 3.5% of the initial supply and few have above 1%. Every prior purchaser has a lockup of between 12 and 36 months from launch, with the majority at 24 months. Because the first purchase occurred in 2017, some backers will wait over 5 years between their initial purchase and final liquidity."

Partners 

"Near Foundation and Polygon Labs announced (12-11-2023) that they would build “a zero-knowledge (ZK) prover for WASM blockchains.” For WASM chains using the zkWASM prover, settling transactions will be more efficient and cost-effective with maximum security guarantees. Through the zkWASM prover, the NEAR Protocol is brought closer to Ethereum which in turn makes it possible for WASM networks to access liquidity. Eventually, chains will also have access to shared liquidity in a single ecosystem of Cloud Development Kit (CDK)-deployed chains through “an in-development interoperability layer.”"

"NEAR + @eigenlayer will create the first-ever Fast Finality Layer, reducing settlement on rollups to 3 seconds vs hours (ZK) or days (Optimistic), at 1/4000 the price. High-level Overview of the Fast Finality Layer

  1. Sequencer submits executed transactions to NEAR
  2. Eigenlayer restakers review and accept (or reject) transactions
  3. Transactions are acknowledged on the rollup
  4. Transactions are finalized on Ethereum"

"Developed in collaboration with key building partners such as Aleph Zero, Kwil, NEAR, Gnosis and Fractal ID as a driving force, the idOS — the identity layer of web3 — represents the future of decentralized identity management. Rooted in the principles of chain-agnostic design, compliance, self-sovereignty, and decentralization, the idOS is far more than just another identity standard. Rather, it is a composable decentralized storage and access management solution to enable self-sovereign identity management across web3."

"In October, NEAR announced a partnership with Google Cloud, which will provide technical support for all NEAR grant recipients. Google Cloud will provide the necessary infrastructure for NEAR’s Remote Procedure Call (RPC) node provider to Pagoda, a Web3 startup platform developed by NEAR. Pagoda provides developers with a library of pre-audited templates and auto-generated contract user interfaces, which makes it easy to launch applications on the NEAR blockchain."

"Ontology will support the development and deployment of NEAR's Decentralized Identifier (DID) solution with an eye on regulatory compliance."

NEAR Foundation

  • From a Messari report (8-11-2023):

"The NEAR Foundation has announced that Illia Polosukhin, the co-founder of NEAR Protocol, has been appointed as the NEAR Foundation CEO. Additionally, Chris Donovan will be stepping into the position of the NEAR Foundation COO to manage the daily operations of the Foundation, and will continue to remain as a member of the NEAR Foundation Council."

Council

"A Swiss Stiftung is directed by an independent council which is similar to a corporate board of directors but with greater regulatory oversight. These members have the power to guide and ratify decisions of the Foundation but they can be removed by the regulatory authority if they are failing to pursue the Foundation’s purpose."

Members are: Mona El Isa, Richard Muirhead and co-founder Illia Polosukhin

NEAR AI

"A new research and development lab focused on decentralized artificial intelligence (AI). The lab will be led by Illia Polosukhin. Additionally, the NEAR Foundation unveiled an AI-focused incubator and investment wing aimed at funding and supporting AI projects built on the NEAR ecosystem. Near co-founder and former Microsoft developer Alex Skidanov will also lead NEAR.AI alongside Polosukhin.

Near co-founder and former Microsoft developer Alex Skidanov will also lead NEAR.AI alongside Polosukhin."

Funding

"The Near Foundation will custody the foundation’s treasury and stake the assets via Bitgo’s platform."

  • The foundation (10%) and core team (14.5%) have both also a portion of the genesis launch tokens.

"The Endowment represents a pool of tokens which are meant to support the Foundation’s operations in the long term and which might be deployed in a wide range of ways."

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