NEAR: Discover The Decentralized Amazon AWS Blockchain Platform | by Maximilian Perkmann | May, 2022

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Most blockchains suffer from a fundamental challenge. Namely, the lack of scalability. Nonetheless, modern blockchains such as Cardano can better handle the problem through an optimized architecture.

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Scalable, developer-friendly, carbon-neutral network — Photo by NASA on Unsplash, edited by the author

Now, NEAR Protocol (NEAR) is a blockchain protocol that is supposed to be easy to use and scalable as well. The layer -1 blockchain claims to have solved the blockchain trilemma and claims to be the first CO2-neutral chain. NEAR is a community-powered cloud computing platform that aims to address the weaknesses of other blockchains such as low transaction speed and poor interoperability.

Reimagine your world.
Through simple, secure, and scalable technology, NEAR empowers millions to invent and explore new experiences. Business, creativity, and community are being reimagined for a more sustainable and inclusive future. — near.org

In doing so, NEAR tries to be the most developer-friendly platform in the world of decentralized applications. A particular highlight of this project is the development team, which is considered to be one of the best in the entire blockchain industry.

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In its origins, the Near project was created for machine learning to deal with program synthesis. Later, with the growing progress of smart contracts and crypto payment technologies, the Near Protocol Blockchain was born.
In simple terms, the NEAR Protocol — popularly referred to as the NEAR Platform — is a proof-of-stake blockchain (read more on proof of stake). More specifically, it is a community-driven cloud computing platform for decentralized apps (apps) and smart contract solutions, primarily for use in financial services (DeFi). The platform is built from the ground up to be user-friendly, providing developers and users with the highest level of security and scalability, while still being extremely easy to use.

With the help of sharding, the partitioning of the entire blockchain into individual fragments, so-called shards, a high level of scalability can be ensured. As a result, the capacity of the network can scale with the number of nodes in the network. So, at least in theory, there is no longer a limit to the network.
According to the platform, up to 100,000 transactions per second are possible through sharding, as transactions can be processed together with other shards, increasing the overall throughput of the network. Although this technology is not unique (Ethereum also plans to use sharding as part of Ethereum 2.0), Near-Protocol also builds on this technology and has developed a dynamic re-sharding process.

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And unlike other sharding approaches, NEAR allows nodes to be so small that they can be run on simple instances hosted in the cloud. After all, there are some sharding approaches that ensure high scalability, but require powerful hardware to do so. This results in limited participation in the network for many users, causing less decentralization. In contrast, NEAR technology requires only simple, low-power hardware. According to the developers, simple cloud hosting should be sufficient to operate a node. In the long term, mobile devices such as smartphones could also be sufficient to operate a Node. Consequently, NEAR can also install more nodes in the long run and thus scale the network better.

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This will enable developers to deploy apps without having to worry about how the infrastructure around them will scale.

According to Near Protocol, the project has three core functions that guarantee its success:
1. the Community: the project sees itself as a constantly growing network of global community members, developers, and creative minds from different fields.
2. The Foundation: Near Protocol aims to drive ecosystem development and innovation through grant funding, making a critical contribution to Web3.0.
3. The Blockchain: Near Blockchain is a Laver-1 network that is easy to use and features security and scalability

The Creator Economy requires robust infrastructure including a set of intuitive developer tools, and an engaged, decentralized community — near.org

DAOs, DeFi, NFTs — Screenshot near.org

With the help of the Proof Of Stake consensus mechanism, the security of the network is ensured. Validators in the network check the transactions and get rewarded via staking. Thanks to the Nightshade sharding, the architecture of Near Protocol is less prone to errors. Validators on the network are only responsible for a small section of the blockchain at a time which simultaneously increases security.
As a reward, validators receive NEAR tokens. The amount of the reward depends on the total stake of the respective user. The protocol generates about 5% of new NEAR tokens every year, which are paid out as rewards for validators.

CO2 Balance

According to its website, the Proof of Stake process renders the Near Protocol the first crypto project in the world that is carbon neutral. Making it especially interesting for developers and users who are concerned about climate change

The results show that the NEAR Protocol currently generates a carbon footprint of 174 tons of CO2 per year. Therefore, NEAR Protocol is more than 200,000 times more carbon efficient than Bitcoin, mainly by applying PoS instead of PoW. — The NEAR Blockchain is Climate Neutral, near.org

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Through numerous reforestation projects in Colombia, Zimbabwe and the USA, Near Protocol’s carbon footprint is further reduced and offset.

PoW is burning billions of dollars per year, even more than all scams and thefts combined. Isn’t it a tragedy? — Vitalik Buterin, Co-Founder of Ethereum

NEAR was founded in 2018 by Alexander Skidanov and Illia Polosukhi. Not long before, the two had met through the startup accelerator program “Y Combinator” in San Francisco. Alex was formerly a Microsoft software developer and former “Director of Engineering” at Memphis equal — a distributed database specialist. He also won a gold medal at the “International Collegiate Programming Contest” ICPC in 2008. This is an annual programming contest for students from all over the world.

The team now consists of more than 40 employees who have already won several prizes and awards in the field of coding. Near Protocol’s Main-Net was launched in the spring of 2020 and raised over $20 million in multiple rounds of funding from early-stage investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital. The non-profit Near Foundation, based in Switzerland, is providing funding for the ecosystem and management of protocols in the network.

If you are wondering what NEAR offers that is different from other projects, you should take a closer look at the developers’ approach. First of all, the team of experts approaches the problem from a different perspective and relies on a “basic blockchain”. This technological basis is comparable to the ecosystems of:

Ethereum has implemented many good ideas, but with 14 transactions per second, it is still quite slow and expensive — both for developers and users. Accordingly, it remains to be seen whether Ethereum 2.0 can solve these problems. So-called “Layer 2″ scaling solutions, including “State Channels” and “Side Chains” address this issue and claim to improve performance and reduce costs. For example Polygon (read more). A side chain takes over some of the tasks of the main chain and ensures that they are completed. However, Side Chains still lack acceptance.

NEAR is eliminating the barriers to Web 3 adoption. With high speeds, low fees, and progressive UX, NEAR’s climate-neutral blockchain is ready for explosive growth. — near.org

NEAR takes a completely different approach and distances itself from the idea that each node must execute the entire code of the network. Instead, sharding ensures that the network is divided into individual fragments. This way, computations can be performed at the level of the individual fragments. In theory, a network with this setup can scale without any limits. The developers compare their project to Amazon Web Services, but emphasize that it is completely decentralized. In other words, it is a kind of decentralized or community-based cloud. This also means that all code is open source and therefore freely accessible. Users can thus easily understand what is happening with their data. In addition, it is not possible to modify the code afterward. For users, there is, therefore, no risk of data being collected by third parties.

Who is building on NEAR? — near.org

Unique Design

Although there are already some crypto projects based on similar structures and mechanisms, however, there are unique features that make the Near Protocol network a very special platform.
Near Protocol’s platform is popular among developers due to its user-friendly working environment. For example, Near claims that decentralized apps can be created even with only basic web/app development skills. No special experience in cryptocurrency, wallets, blockchain, or other crypto-specific tools is required and the scaling of one’s own apps is automatically enabled through sharding — without any additional fees.
Moreover, new users on the network do not even need their own wallets to use the decentralized applications (apps) or smart contracts on the platform. Near’s Common Sense onboarding makes it possible to target a broader audience for apps. For example, via the Mintbase application, users can easily buy and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or directly mint new NFTs themselves.

Build your own store — Screenshot mintbase.io

Moreover, Mintbase provides the toolset to set up and deploy new stores/dApps on the blockchain with a very limited skill set. Reminds me of Shopify on the blockchain.

Your Store = Your Contract = Your Own Dapp — near.org

Build your own store — Screenshot mintbase.io

The native NEAR token was created to enable payments of transaction fees, storage of data on the network, and ensuring security through staking at the same time.

Price Development — coinmarketcap.com

Those who become involved in the network as a node and validate transactions receive a portion of the transaction fees in return (in NEAR).
In addition, data storage in the network is billed via the token, and users can participate in the staking process. Inflation caused by the staking process is offset by near token burning. Around 70% of all transaction fees are thus destroyed to keep the price value stable and regulate the supply. However, NEAR can also be used as a governance token, giving holders voting rights on developments and votes within the blockchain. The future of the project can be co-determined and shaped by the community.

How To Buy $NEAR?

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The NEAR Protocol is a leading platform for smart contracts that is designed to help developers create better decentralized applications (dApps).
As such, the platform is providing strong competition to Solana, with its low fees, and Polkadot, with its Web 3.0 capabilities. Due to its unique structure though, the Near Protocol enables transaction fees that can be up to 10,000 times lower compared to Ethereum.
Currently, the network is in a growth phase as more and more dApp developers use it due to its high speed and throughput. Growing partnerships, such as with Terra (LUNA) (read more) and blockchain infrastructure projects like The Graph (read more: The Decentralized Google For Blockchains), promise higher transaction volumes and more complex protocols that the NEAR platform can leverage.

Build on Your Own Smart Contract — Screenshot mintbase.io

That’s why NEAR Protocol is one of the most exciting blockchain projects on the market. The developers already have experience with sharding and know how a decentralized infrastructure can provide the necessary scalability. This could be a significant competitive advantage and drive NEAR adoption.
The protocol has focused on developing DeFi-based projects in recent months. It continues to work on NFT projects, DAOs, and gaming applications. Due to its extremely high scalability and user-focused approach, there is a lot of potential, especially in the growth markets of DeFi, NFTs, and gaming.
Especially for the vision of Web 3.0, the NEAR Protocol blockchain could become extremely interesting in the future.

Why the Web 3.0 Matters and you should know about it — source: medium.com

Web 3.0 is supposed to represent the next development stage of the web. In that space, the narrative of the decentralized version of Amazon AWS comes into play. As NEAR is driving the Web 3 adoption. With high speeds, low fees, user-friendly interfaces, and a climate-neutral blockchain.

With mintbase.io, the data storage, and the easy-to-use toolset, the NEAR platform has a chance to evolve as such.

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