What's going on in the NEAR ecosystem this year? Who's building? What dApps are coming up? Find out here
The NEAR blockchain, founded in 2018, is a decentralized platform that enables secure and efficient peer-to-peer interactions. Built to focus on scalability and usability, NEAR employs a sharded, Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, allowing for high transaction throughput and low fees. This unique architecture positions NEAR as a viable solution for a wide range of applications, from Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to gaming and other Decentralized Applications (dApps).
The NEAR ecosystem has experienced remarkable growth and gained significant traction since its inception. Its importance lies in its technological advancements and its ability to foster a vibrant and collaborative community. Developers on the NEAR platform benefit from a rich set of tools, documentation, and resources that empower them to build and deploy their applications quickly. Moreover, NEAR's emphasis on user-friendly experiences and developer support has attracted diverse projects and contributors, further enriching the ecosystem.
As we delve deeper into the article, we will explore some prominent projects and initiatives shaping the NEAR ecosystem in 2023, showcasing the potential and opportunities within this dynamic blockchain network.
The NEAR Ecosystem
According to AwesomeNEAR, there are currently over 1,000 projects active on the NEAR blockchain. We can, therefore, highlight only some of them. However, we’ve tried our best to create an exhaustive list of projects depending on the different categories in which they operate.
Infrastructure (Explorers, Wallets, and Bridges)
Blockchain infrastructure is the backbone of any flourishing blockchain ecosystem, providing the foundation for secure and efficient transactions. Good infrastructure ensures scalability, decentralization, and transparency, enabling blockchain networks to handle many transactions quickly and reliably.
Blockchain explorers are intended to display all data connected with blocks, addresses, and previous and current transactions. Here are the most prominent ones on NEAR:
- NEAR Explorer: The NEAR blockchain explorer is a web-based blockchain browser that displays the contents of individual NEAR blocks and transactions, transaction histories, and address balances.
- NEARSCAN: NEARSCAN is an excellent alternative to double-check or use alongside the NEAR explorer, offering the ability to search the NEAR blockchain for blocks, transactions, tokens, and NEAR accounts.
- NearBlocks: NearBlocks is a blockchain explorer, search, API, and analytics platform for the NEAR Protocol. It is one of the first projects developed on the NEAR Protocol and its community, and it was founded in 2022 to enable fair access to blockchain data.
- Stats.Gallery: Stats.gallery is an initiative that aims to assist users in understanding the NEAR ecosystem. The project gives NEAR wallet users a snapshot of their network activity and possibilities to earn incentives for using various services.
- Pikespeak: Gives its users access to real-time and historical data and visualizations. The platform is a user-centric (rather than transaction-oriented) analytics tool focusing on user involvement with the most popular applications: DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, Gaming, etc.
According to AwesomeNEAR, there are currently 61 blockchain wallets that allow you to hold, stake, and/or trade NEAR. The NEAR Wallet is the NEAR blockchains native wallet; it is a non-custodial wallet where you can store, receive, and send NEAR assets and interact with the NEAR blockchain simply and securely. Other options for NEAR wallets are:
- Sender Wallet: Sender is a browser extension wallet for the NEAR protocol that aims to provide a safe and user-friendly wallet for DeFi and NFT users.
- MyNEARWallet: MyNearWallet is a web wallet allowing users to securely store and stake NEAR tokens and other compatible assets. MyNearWallet also offers wNEAR and USN swaps and ways to buy NEAR.
- NETH: Proximity Labs has created the first NEAR Ethereum native wallet through a smart contract dubbed NETH, which offers MetaMask compatibility on a non-EVM chain, allowing you to control a NEAR account using your Ethereum account remotely.
- NEAR Mobile Wallet: NEAR Mobile Wallet is a non-custodial mobile wallet for securely storing, managing, and transferring your NEAR tokens and other NEAR blockchain cryptocurrencies. With NEAR Mobile, you can create accounts, reserve NEAR IDs, check your tokens and NFTs within the app, stay updated on the latest news, stake your NEAR and receive incentives, and engage with other dApps on the ecosystem.
Blockchain bridges function in the same way as physical bridges do. A blockchain bridge connects two blockchain ecosystems like a physical bridge connects two physical locations. Bridges provide communication across blockchains by transferring information and assets. At the time of writing, seven projects are bridging NEAR:
- Allbridge: Allbridge enables NEAR transfers from NEAR to Polygon (MATIC) and, of course, the other way around. It is a bridge between EVM and non-EVM-compliant blockchains that will eventually cover L2 solutions and NFT transfers.
- Rainbow Bridge: The Rainbow Bridge is the official token transfer bridge between the Ethereum, NEAR, and Aurora networks. Aurora, the Ethereum-compatible scaling solution built on NEAR, created the bridge.
- Multichain: Multichain enables blockchains to communicate with one another and ensures there are no restrictions on Ethereum-like chains (Binance Smart Chain), other Layer-2 chains requiring Ethereum finality (Polygon), a network of Parachains (Moonbeam in the Polkadot system), Bitcoin-type chains (Litecoin), or Cosmoschains.
- BoringDAO: BoringDAO is a decentralized assets bridge between Ethereum and other Blockchain assets, providing non-ERC20 assets the chance to optimize utility and yield-generating effects.
- Wormhole: Wormhole is a generic message-passing protocol connecting over 12 blockchain networks, including Polygon, Solana, and NEAR.
- Portal: Portal is a bridge that allows tokens and NFTs wrapped in Wormhole to travel freely across chains.
- Ardana: Ardana is an ecosystem stablecoin project built on Cardano, now collaborating with NEAR to offer a bridge between the two networks.
DeFi: Yield Aggregation, Liquid Staking, Order Books, and more
There are a lot of different projects that fall in the Decentralized Finance or DeFi category. This paragraph highlights projects that have personally captured our attention, received positive feedback, or left a lasting impression. These projects represent various applications within the DeFi ecosystem, each offering unique features and solutions. So, let’s get to it. First, yield aggregators; are services that enable cryptocurrency owners to optimize their passive income from yield farming by aggregating staking contracts from several protocols. They automatically compound incentives to maximize yield farming rewards and save money on expenses.
- DeHive: DeHive provides yield-generating indexes and auto-compounding staking pools for NEAR.
- OpenOcean: OpenOcean is an aggregation protocol for digital currency trading, sourcing liquidity from DeFi and CeFi markets and allowing cross-chain swaps. OpenOcean aggregates key exchanges (DEXs and CEXs) and Ethereum Layer 2, such as Polygon, Solana, and Aurora.
- Coinhall: Coinhall provides real-time price charts and analytics, alerts, and bot notifications across all NEAR DEXes.
- PembRock Finance: PembRock Finance is the NEAR ecosystem’s first leveraged yield farming project.
With liquid staking, users can stake their funds without sacrificing their ability to use them for other crypto-based activities. So, let’s have a quick look at some of the liquid staking solutions for NEAR:
- Meta Pool: Meta Pool is a liquid staking protocol for NEAR; users stake Near and wNEAR in pools to receive a NEP-141 standard token, stNEAR (staked NEAR). The stNEAR token simultaneously accrues staking rewards and unlocks users’ liquidity enabling them to participate in DeFi activities.
- LiNEAR Protocol: LiNEAR Protocol unlocks NEAR liquidity by establishing a staking derivative that can be used with multiple DeFi protocols on NEAR while earning an APY on the underlying deposited assets.
- NearGate: NearGate is a liquidity protocol set up for lock drop in the NEAR protocol.
- Stader NEAR: NearX, a liquid staking solution for Near, is Stader's staking solution for Near. Stader allows users to receive Near staking incentives and participate in other Defi protocols via NearX while earning rewards. To learn more about Stader, see our full article here.
Of course, the NEAR DeFi ecosystem isn’t limited to liquid staking and yield aggregation. Many other projects are working and developing exciting new solutions, such as:
- REF Finance: REF Finance is a multi-purpose DeFi platform built on NEAR Protocol. The platform provides multiple pools in one contract, atomic transactions, and customizable pool fees.
- Burrow: Burrow is a decentralized, non-custodial pool-based interest rate platform that allows users to supply assets in exchange for interest and borrow against them to unlock liquidity.
- Spin: Spin is a DeFi derivatives infrastructure built on the NEAR Protocol, a dependable and scalable L1 solution. Spin's on-chain order book solution offers DeFi users a CEX-competitive experience.
- Orderly Network: Orderly Network is a permissionless, decentralized trade mechanism. The platform created a comprehensive liquidity layer infrastructure for any dApp to use and expand. It provides market-leading execution with low latency, minimal fees, and access to various liquidity choices.
- Jump DeFi: Jump DEX Automated Market Maker, Invisible Swaps, Jump Pad Token Launchpad, Jump NFT Staking Platform, and Jump Token Laboratory are just a few of the revenue-generating applications and services available on Jump DeFi.
Gaming dApps on the NEAR protocol offer blockchain gaming enthusiasts a thrilling and immersive experience. With seamless integration of decentralized technology, these dApps provide secure and transparent gameplay while leveraging the NEAR ecosystem. Here are some of the top gaming dApps on NEAR:
- Berry Club: Berry Club is a captivating virtual gardening game where players grow and trade unique virtual berries. Players can cultivate their gardens through gamified interactions and participate in a vibrant community.
- Paras: Paras introduces a captivating metaverse where players can acquire, trade, and battle with unique NFT-based creatures known as Paras. This game combines strategy and collectibles, allowing players to explore a rich virtual world.
- LandToEmpire: LandToEmpire is a Near Protocol play-to-earn mobile strategy game. The game occurs in a fictional realm where the player is the land's lord. In LandToEmpire, players must upgrade their land by attacking other players' lands or generating them independently.
- Metamon: Metamon is a Sci-Fi and Fantasy universe where you go to the stars to discover thrilling new worlds and majestic life forms with unfathomable power.
- NEAR Lands: NEAR Lands is a multiplayer 2d world where you can create and chat with friends.
These dApps on NEAR highlight the innovation and creativity within the NEAR ecosystem, providing gamers with exciting and rewarding gameplay while embracing the benefits of blockchain technology.
NFTs and Social Projects
NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) have revolutionized the digital world, offering a new way to represent and trade unique digital assets. These blockchain-based tokens have opened up endless possibilities across various industries, including art, gaming, collectibles, and more. From virtual art marketplaces to decentralized gaming platforms, NFT projects have sparked a wave of innovation, creativity, and economic opportunities. In this paragraph, we will explore some of the most notable NFT projects that have captured the imagination of creators, collectors, and enthusiasts alike.
- Mintbase: Mintbase is a robust platform that empowers users to create, discover, and trade digital assets, including gaming-related NFTs. It provides a decentralized marketplace where players can showcase their creations and engage with the vibrant NEAR gaming community.
- Few and Far: Few and Far is the NEAR Protocol-based next-generation NFT Marketplace. Its solution enables additional functionality that supercharges NFT applications across the blockchain, including important gaming and deFi applications.
- Corgis: Corgis 3D lets users mint their own NFT Corgi based on different rarities.
- UniqART: UniqART is a comprehensive solution for empowering artists. The platform wishes to provide the artists with a three-pronged solution focussed on Web3 awareness (NFTs, marketplaces), funding assistance (decentralized crowdfunding), and power allocation.
- RealityChain: RealityChain is an award-winning Social Metaverse that combines the power of Web 3.0 with a non-immersive Metaverse experience.
- Satori: Satori is making NFTs more accessible to creators and brands by letting them integrate their existing Web 2.0 platforms into Web3. Satori develops a simple web3 toolkit to assist creatives, businesses, and communities in acquiring, onboarding, and engaging their users - no coding or crypto required.
Developers and Building on NEAR
If you’re looking to build a dApp or DAO on the NEAR blockchain, plenty of options can help you get started. To support and empower developers, NEAR has established various initiatives and programs. These efforts provide the necessary resources, tools, and guidance to help developers build on the NEAR blockchain easily. From comprehensive documentation and developer guides to hackathons, grants, and educational initiatives, NEAR ensures that developers can access the necessary support system to bring their ideas to life.
The initiatives and programs offered by NEAR have contributed to creating special applications and success stories within the ecosystem. Notable applications built on NEAR include decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, NFT marketplaces, gaming ecosystems, social networks, and more. These applications demonstrate the versatility and potential of the NEAR blockchain, attracting users and investors alike. They showcase blockchain technology's transformative power and highlight the NEAR ecosystem's immense possibilities. Some funding options offering ecosystem grants are:
- Proximity Labs: Proximity supports the NEAR and Aurora DeFi ecosystems via grants, consultancy services, and the publication of open-source software for developers.
- Aurora: Supports projects looking to build on the Aurora EVM to bridge Ethereum to NEAR. The project offers access to funding, dedicated technical support, recruiting assistance, and more.
- Mintbase: Mintbase is especially interested in projects building NFTs or NFT-related solutions.
- Human Guild: The Human Guild is an open community of creators and founders who believe that everyone should be able to earn enough money to accomplish what they love.
- Cypherpunk Guild: The Cypherpunk Guild has committed to contributing to projects that aim to expand the NEAR ecosystem and advance its purpose of empowering people by providing them with options for controlling their money, data, and government.
To learn more about funding for NEAR, you can visit the website here.
In conclusion, the NEAR ecosystem established itself as a prominent blockchain network in 2023, driven by its scalable and user-friendly approach. The platform's focus on scalability and usability has attracted diverse projects and contributors, fostering a vibrant and collaborative community. The infrastructure of the NEAR blockchain is well-developed, with blockchain explorers like NEAR Explorer, NEARSCAN, NearBlocks, and Stats.Gallery provides comprehensive insights into the network. Wallet options like NEAR Wallet, Sender Wallet, MyNEARWallet, and NEAR Mobile Wallet offer secure storage and easy interaction with NEAR assets.
Bridges like All Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, Multichain, and Wormhole ensure seamless communication between NEAR and other blockchain ecosystems. In DeFi, projects like DeHive, OpenOcean, Coinhall, and PembRock Finance provide yield aggregation, liquid staking, and other innovative solutions. NEAR's gaming dApps, including Berry Club, Paras, LandToEmpire, Metamon, and NEAR Lands, deliver immersive experiences within a blockchain-enabled environment. NFT projects like Mintbase, Few and Far, Corgis, UniqART, RealityChain, and Satori showcase the transformative potential of NFTs in various industries.
Moreover, NEAR's commitment to supporting developers through initiatives, grants, and educational programs has resulted in a flourishing ecosystem of applications and success stories. With its remarkable growth and vast possibilities, the NEAR ecosystem is a testament to blockchain technology's power and impact on diverse sectors.
DISCLAIMER: This is not financial advice. Staking, delegation, and cryptocurrencies involve a high degree of risk, and there is always the possibility of loss, including the failure of all staked digital assets. Additionally, delegators are at risk of slashing in case of security or liveness faults on some protocols. We advise you to do your due diligence before choosing a validator.