NEAR protocol is a newcomer looking to address the limitations of legacy systems through a community-managed sharded blockchain platform with interoperability and scalability at its core. Blockchains that can run smart contracts are nothing new. It has been around since the Ethereum mainnet launched in 2015, and today there are over a dozen similar platforms.
However, despite the rapidly growing demand for decentralized applications (dapps) and the development of increasingly sophisticated and powerful dapps, some major frictions still limit their adoption.
NEAR is a decentralized application platform running on the NEAR protocol blockchain. Running on hundreds of machines around the world, this blockchain is organized in a permissionless, powerful, and secure way sufficient to create a powerful and decentralized data layer for the new web.
NEAR’s primary mission is to provide the best platform for running applications that have access to shared and secure pools of money, identities, and data owned by users. It combines partition-tolerant networking, serverless computing, and distributed storage capabilities into a new kind of platform.
Table of Contents
- NEAR Protocol: Brief History
- What is NEAR Protocol?
- How Does NEAR Protocol Work?
- What makes NEAR Protocol different than other Cryptos?
- What is the NEAR Token?
- NEAR Protocol: The Future
NEAR Protocol: Brief History
NEAR began in the summer of 2018 when Alex Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin decided to bid farewell to their previous entrepreneurial adventures. The first team consisted of seven engineers, with Erik running the business and Sasha speaking to the market.
Today, the NEAR Collective is a globally distributed group of teams made up of many individual organizations and contributors organized to bring this technology to life. It’s neither business nor anything as far-fetched as official. Instead, think like a group of people leading a large open-source software project.
One of the collective’s projects is to create the original code and reference implementation for the open-source NEAR network, similar to building rocket engines for the space shuttle. Their job is to do the research and development work necessary to help the blockchain get off the ground. The code for this chain is open source, so literally, anyone can contribute and run it.
It is important to emphasize that networks like NEAR are fully decentralized. This means that they will eventually work entirely on their own and will never actually be censored, shut down, or otherwise modified by a third party…the team that built them in the first place Even! So, the members of this collective are here to get the ball rolling and create a reference implementation that will no longer be integral to the operation of the network as soon as it goes live. When ready to launch, anyone can change the code of his NEAR protocol and run it to launch their own blockchain. Because everything is open source and changes must be democratically accepted by the independent auditors who run it. NEAR has a diverse team of developers and researchers from companies such as Microsoft, MemSQL, Meta, and Google with different backgrounds. The project is also backed by Andreessen Horowitz’s over 40 investment firms, including some of Silicon Valley’s most influential VCs, including Metastable, Pantera, Ripple developer ecosystem projects Xspring, and Coinbase.
What is NEAR Protocol?
NEAR is a decentralized development platform designed to provide an ideal environment for dapps by overcoming some of the limitations of competing systems like Low throughput, slow speed, and poor cross-compatibility. It is based on the NEAR protocol, a developer-friendly proof-of-stake (POS) blockchain that includes many innovations to increase scalability and reduce costs for developers and end-users. Its innovations include a unique approach to sharding and a powerful new consensus mechanism called “Doomslug”.
It is a global community of researchers, developers, and thinkers who wrote the original code for the NEAR protocol. It continues to support the project by releasing bug fixes, updates, and extensions to the NEAR ecosystem around it. Built by a NEAR Collective. NEAR’s code is open source, so anyone can join the Collectible and contribute to its development.
How Does NEAR Protocol Work?
Similar to Ethereum, Cardano, and Tron, NEAR can be described as a “base layer” blockchain. It is the foundation upon which other applications are built and deployed. NEAR uses a technology known as Nightshade to achieve its massive throughput capabilities. In a scaling solution, individual groups of validators process transactions in parallel across multiple sharding chains, increasing the overall transaction processing power of the blockchain. This solution is somewhat different from the sharding systems used in other blockchains. This is because each shard produces part of the next block, called a “chunk”. These are processed and stored immutably on the NEAR blockchain, where the transaction is completed.
It is designed to simplify the developer’s job while providing them with a powerful toolkit to help them build next-generation applications. NEAR uses a contract-based account model, allowing developers to build sophisticated apps that can sign transactions on behalf of their users. This allows contracts to be executed without the need for the user to be physically available to confirm the action.
What makes NEAR Protocol different than other Cryptos?
NEAR is designed as a next-generation platform for dapps. To accomplish this, we address some of the longest-standing problems in the blockchain space, as well as some that only surfaced relatively recently.
First, NEAR is incredibly fast. It can handle anywhere in the 100,000 transactions per second (tps) realm, achieving near-instantaneous transaction finality with a block cadence of 1 second. According to NEAR, its technology means it can achieve transaction fees that are 10,000 times lower than Ethereum, making them essentially negligible.
While its technical advantages are arguably its biggest selling point, NEAR is said to be accessible to those with little to no blockchain knowledge thanks to what is known as “common sense onboarding.” This means that regular users with a similar registration flow who already have experience can access DApps created with NEAR. This allows developers to reach a wider audience while reducing friction for developers already accustomed to using dapps.
NEAR provides developers with a set of modular components that help them accelerate their development and get their projects off to a fast start. This includes example implementations of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), faucets, token contracts, guestbooks, and more. A complete set of examples and their code can be found in the official NEAR Github repository.
What is the NEAR Token?
Like most blockchains, NEAR has its own native utility token, aptly named “NEAR”. This is a token used to incentivize nodes on the NEAR network and is also used to power transactions and numerous NEAR smart contracts.
As a community-controlled platform, NEAR token holders can participate in the on-chain governance of the NEAR platform or have validators vote for them on their behalf.
There is currently a discussion in the Governance Forum regarding the development and commercialization of NEAR products and the surrounding NEAR ecosystem. Users can also submit proposals to Github’s NEAR Enhancement Proposals Repository (NEP).
NEAR Protocol: The Future
Earlier this month, NEAR released the long-awaited Rainbow Bridge, known as the Ethereum to NEAR bridge. This allows a user to NEAR bridge their Ethereum ERC-20 token for use within the NEAR dapp ecosystem. This is a big step towards a NEAR plan to make the platform as accessible as possible.
As a next step, NEAR is currently working on implementing support for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This is the software stack Ethereum uses to run decentralized applications. Once this is complete, a developer will be able to redeploy Ethereum dapps to NEAR with little to no changes required, removing a major obstacle to cross-chain adoption.