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NEAR Protocol: An Ecosystem Deep Dive - Part II

Mar 20, 2024
byNDAX Labs

The Team and Community Driving Near's Innovation

Behind every dynamic protocol lies a vibrant team of individuals fueled by passion and vision. Near Protocol is no exception. Founded and launched in 2017 by Alexander Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin, the core team behind NEAR Protocol burst onto the blockchain scene with innovative ideas.

This small yet powerful group of thinkers wasn't alone in their ambitious endeavor. They were backed by some key organizations, including Ethereum Foundation and Tier 1 staking operations in NEAR's ecosystem - Dokia Capital, Bison Trails, and Figment Networks, among others.

However, success wasn't solely down to this dynamic team or the noticeable alliances they formed. An active community of teachers, students, developers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts engaging together helped bring to life the true essence of Near Protocol. They function as critical drivers in community decision-making processes and further development of this advanced platform.

This collective fusion helped shape the Near Protocol we know today: a progressive project that challenges traditional paradigms with its unique approach to solving entrenched blockchain issues.

Near's Architecture and Features: A 360-Degree View

Diving deeper into the mechanics, we see the distinctive architecture that sets Near's ecosystem apart. Drawing from its unique sharding design and smart contract capabilities to its ingenious Rainbow Bridge feature, every detail contributes to an efficiently functioning whole.

The protocol employs a different approach to sharding, diverging from the traditional Ethereum model. Instead of dividing by transactions or states, this method creates shard chains. These shards collectively form the governing blockchain, each maintaining its independent transaction processing ability.

Smart contracts are another defining feature of Near Protocol. They represent agreements coded and stored on the blockchain, encapsulated deterministically as part of the protocol's state. These programmable contracts eliminate any need for third-party enforcement or execution bodies as they automatically execute objectives under predefined conditions.

Near Protocol has painstakingly cultivated these features into a holistic ecosystem that pushes boundaries and conventions within the cryptosphere.

Past and Present Projects on Near

Becoming familiar with Near Protocol's achievements provides a compelling overview of its contribution to the blockchain landscape. In October 2021, NEAR announced an $800 million global funding initiative that would help foster development in its DeFi ecosystem. This funding indicates their serious commitment to aiding in expanding and developing applications on their platform. As we can see, this year, it has paid off.

Highlighting such achievements are projects like Aurora, Ref Finance, and Mintbase. These are all going strong, making waves in the crypto industry.

Let's take a closer look at some of these projects.


Aurora, a layer-2 solution on the NEAR blockchain, encourages DApp development by offering Ethereum 1.0's experience. Developers benefit by writing smart contracts in Solidity language on this platform and reaping the NEAR network's advantages. It's a win-win!

Aurora tips the scales towards high throughput and scalability and provides low transaction costs. The result? A more versatile user experience.

Adding to the magic is the Aurora Bridge, which works in conjunction with the Rainbow Bridge. It enables the trustless transfer of ETH and ERC20 tokens between Ethereum and Aurora.

Ref Finance

Here's another groundbreaking pillar supporting Near Protocol. Ref Finance is an Automated Market Maker DEX (Decentralized Exchange). It offers a robust suite of DeFi offerings, an all-in-one stop for crypto enthusiasts looking for a lending protocol, yield farm, stableswap platform, synthetic asset issuer, and more.

The platform offers staking and farming features that allow users to gain additional profits with their assets while contributing to the network's health. (Canadians can also delegate their NEAR token for staking on the NDAX Platform: Stake NEAR on NDAX.)


The power to create NFTs is at your fingertips with Mintbase. This platform is as diverse as they come. Musicians, artists, or even event organizers can take advantage of this platform to create unique NFTs ranging from artwork sales to music tokens and event tickets.

When it comes to creating NFTs without worrying about technical complexities, Mintbase has made a name for itself as what many refer to as the "Shopify for NFTs."

Future Possibilities: Upcoming Projects and Developments

The "near" future for Near Protocol is shaping up to be dynamic and captivating. After achieving a staggering 15x growth in users and projects in the past year, Near has set its sights high. The pipeline for future projects includes buoyant advancements like sharding Phase 3 and 4 that aim to enhance general usability. Additionally, Near is working on providing a user-friendly environment, intending to draw even more developers and users into the ecosystem.

Reflecting on their website's message, it's clear that Near Protocol has its finger pressed firmly on the pulse of Web3. Holding a promise to champion this new digital age, Near is excitedly anticipating becoming part of what could be the next big step in internet evolution – the decentralized internet era.

These elements combined keep Near Protocol poised for rapid growth whilst moving towards realizing its expansive vision confidently.

Decentralized Applications, or DApps, are pivotal in the Near Protocol. These Internet applications function on blockchain network principles, permitting direct peer interactions. They break through traditional application control and provide more autonomy to users.

To give you a snapshot of how diverse these DApps are within the vibrant ecosystem of Near Protocol, here's an assortment across various industries:

  1. DeFi (Decentralized Finance): This paradigm shift in finance replaces traditional intermediaries with transparent protocols for services like lending, borrowing, and trading tokens.
  2. NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens): Enabling artists and creators to monetize their work freely, without middlemen fees or copyright issues. It's a digital marketplace where rare and unique items are tokenized, each possessing irreplaceable value.
  3. Gaming: Imagine playing games that reward you with tokens or assets you truly own and can trade freely in a crypto market, welcome to blockchain-based gaming platforms.
  4. Social Media: Blockchain-integrated social media platforms offer better user privacy alongside fairer content monetization strategies.
  5. Supply Chain: From farm to fork or factory to consumer, DApps can help trace every step, ensuring better product quality and consumer transparency.
  6. Data Services: Helping generate insights without compromising data safety by analyzing encrypted data on-chain.

Indeed, there's a feast of decentralized applications available on the Near Protocol for everyone. From developers looking to build next-gen apps to digital enthusiasts exploring new worlds.

Community Engagement and Governance

In the rapidly evolving world of blockchain technology, Near Protocol's commitment to community engagement provides a breath of fresh air. The protocol nurtures a strong relationship with its community members, bringing them to the discussion table to decide on crucial matters shaping the network's future.

The NEAR Governance Forum serves as the venue where these discussions take place. Here, developers and community members come together to discuss proposals, updates, and current issues surrounding NEAR and its ecosystem. It's an arena that empowers all stakeholders, regardless of their technical abilities or size, providing them an equal voice in shaping the protocol's evolution.

Near Protocol also nurtures a robust system for decision-making within its governance infrastructure. In this system of token holder governance, everyone holding NEAR tokens has a say in steering the direction of Near Protocol's journey. Token holders can vote on key decisions like approval or rejection of network upgrades, effectively putting power back within their hands.

This democratic approach truly resonates with what decentralized systems stand for - autonomy, equality, and inclusivity. These are the cornerstone values that breathe life into our envisioned digital future.

Challenges and Opportunities: The Road Ahead

Every road to innovation is dotted with an array of challenges and opportunities, and Near Protocol isn't exempt from this. Along its journey, Near faces hurdles of a smaller market share compared to giants like Bitcoin or Ethereum. There is a continuous need to convince developers about its benefits, persuading them to build on the protocol's platform.

Similarly, the novelty of implementing advanced tech, such as sharding and Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanisms, also invites risks associated with security. Navigating these complexities while fostering trust within the community poses quite a challenge.

However, these challenges simultaneously bring vast opportunities that Near Protocol can tap into. For instance, it can potentially address basic pain points in other blockchains, like expensive transaction fees in Ethereum or scaling issues in Bitcoin.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Building a Strong Network

In a fast-paced, digital world, the power of collaborations and partnerships cannot be understated. The strength of Near Protocol's network owes much to its strategic alliances, which play instrumental roles in propelling the growth and development of the platform.

One noteworthy collaboration is with Polygon. Near Protocol had partnered with this Ethereum-scaling solution to launch its zkEVM on NEAR's Basechain Operating System (BOS). This partnership meant better interoperability and efficiency for both networks.

Another significant association was with The Graph – a decentralized protocol for indexing and querying data from blockchains. It brought higher transparency and easier access to blockchain data in Near's ecosystem.

A name that stands out among Web3 service providers is Keyko, another important partnership that helped catapult growth for Near Protocol.

Lastly, if we trace back to Near's early beginnings, it was nurtured by several prominent investors since its inception in 2017. Standout names include Electric Capital, Pantera Capital, MetaStable, having raised over $533 million across eight funding rounds.

Evidently, these relationships are not merely collaborations but strategic milestones fostering adoption, innovation, and strengthening the core fabric of Near's ecosystem.

Conclusion: A Glimpse into the Near Protocol Future

In dissecting the Near Protocol journey, it quickly becomes clear how far it has come. Compared to its humble beginnings in 2017, it now stands proudly as a transformative entity in the blockchain space. Thanks to a brilliant team and a thriving community at its disposal, Near is making waves in familiar waters.

Still, the most exciting part may be what lies on the horizon for Near Protocol. Its commitment to revolutionizing scalability is unswerving. Committing to user-friendliness could make it one of the most accessible platforms around. Meanwhile, creating an environment that developers love to work with increases blockchain adoption across multiple industries.

With all of this potential right around the corner, Near Protocol seems firmly pointed towards growth and innovation. To stay up-to-date on all things crypto and blockchain-related—be sure to follow NDAX on your preferred social media platform—the most trusted Canadian source for all things crypto. And if you simply want to get your feet wet, you can buy, sell, or stake your NEAR tokens on the platform as well. 

Remember, NDAX is Canada's best resource for all things crypto - your perfect companion in your adventure through this ever-evolving landscape.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide investment, legal, accounting, tax or any other advice and should not be relied on in that or any other regard. The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of cryptocurrencies or otherwise.