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Basics

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."

Audits & Exploits

Bugs/Exploits

Governance

"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."

Treasury

  • 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."

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."

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."

Luckups

  • 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."

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."

Token Details

  • 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

  • Capacity (TPS), from their whitepaper (Late-2019): "For simple financial transactions, per-shard throughput could range from 400-2000 transactions per second."
  • Latency:

"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

  • 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."

"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."

Fees

Upgrades

"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."

  • 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.”"

  • 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.
  • "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."
  • 4 Shards will go live on 15-11-2021.

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 Producer
  2. Chunk Producer
  3. Hidden Validator

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

"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."

Sharding

  • 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."

"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."

"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."

  • 4 Shards will go live on 15-11-2021.

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”."

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).

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

"[ 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––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."

Roadmap

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

  • 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."

Usage

"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. "

  • 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%."

  • From Our Network (10-7-2021):

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

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."

Competition

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

  • Due to its token distribution, it could be considered a VC chain.
  • Hasu has written how NEAR's implementation of EIP-1159 has a bunch of cons (19-10-2020):

"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."

  • 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."

Team, Funding, Partners

Team

  • Full team can be found here (18-7-2020)
  • Erik Trautman; co-founder
  • Alex Skidanov; co-founder
  • Anton Bikov; engineer and co-founder of 1inch
  • Illia Polosukhin; co-founder
  • Kendall Cole — Product Manager
  • Has 'engineers from Microsoft and Google'.
  • 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.

Funding

  • Pre-launch funding (7-5-2020) $33.7M and a16z lead their $21.6 million token sale round.
  • 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."

  • Is being backed by Coinbase.
  • Is part of the portfolio of MultiCoin (25-11-2020).
  • Is backing accelerator program Startup Studio
  • Covalent; the firm was part of a $2M round for Covalent (26-3-2021).
  • 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.

Partners 

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

NEAR Foundation

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

Funding

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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