NEAR Protocol is a layer-one blockchain that was designed as a community-run cloud computing platform and that eliminates some of the limitations that have been bogging competing blockchains, such as low transaction speeds, low throughput and poor interoperability. This provides the ideal environment for DApps and creates a developer and user-friendly platform. For instance, NEAR uses human-readable account names, unlike the cryptographic wallet addresses common to Ethereum. NEAR also introduces unique solutions to scaling problems and has its own consensus mechanism called “Doomslug.”

NEAR Protocol is being built by the NEAR Collective, its community that is updating the initial code and releasing updates to the ecosystem. Its declared goal is to build a platform that is “secure enough to manage high value assets like money or identity and performant enough to make them useful for everyday people.”

Flux, a protocol that allows developers to create markets based on assets, commodities, real-world events, and Mintbase, an NFT minting platform are examples of projects being built on NEAR Protocol.

Who Are the Founders of NEAR Protocol (NEAR)?
NEAR Protocol was founded by Erik Trautman, an entrepreneur with experience on Wall Street and founder of Viking Education. His co-founders were Illia Polosukhin, who has more than ten years of industry experience, including three years at Google, and Alexander Skidanov, a computer scientist that worked at Microsoft and went on to join memSQL, where he became the director of engineering. NEAR Protocol has an extensive team of experienced developers that includes several International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) gold medalists and winners. The team claims to have people with experience of building some of the only real-world sharded systems at scale, a solution the protocol is pursuing to improve blockchain scalability.

What Makes NEAR Protocol (NEAR) Unique?
NEAR uses its Nightshade technology to improve transaction throughput massively. Nightshade is a variation of sharding, in which individual sets of validators process transactions in parallel across multiple sharded chains, improving the overall capacity of the blockchain. In contrast to “regular” sharding, shards in Nightshade produce a fraction of the next block, called “chunks.” In doing so, NEAR Protocol is able to achieve up to 100,000 transactions per second and achieve near-instant transaction finality thanks to a one-second block cadence while simultaneously keeping transaction fees at virtually zero.

NEAR Protocol also improves upon the convoluted onboarding process of other blockchains by having human-readable addresses and building decentralized applications with similar registration flow to what users have already experienced. Moreover, it provides developers with modular components, helping them start projects like token contracts or NFTs more quickly.

Near Protocol Ecosystem Fund
On Oct. 25, 2021, NEAR announced a $800 million in ecosystem funding initiatives, following in the footsteps of various Layer-1s blockchains like Avalanche, Fantom and Celo. The fund will be used to bankroll initiatives that will focus on accelerating growth in the NEAR protocol ecosystem. The fund includes $350 million in funding from Proximity Labs. Out of the total fund, $250 million will be used to help existing projects scale, and $100 million will be allocated to the Startup Grant Pools, where 20 startups will be given $5M each. NEAR will focus on funding Decentralized Finance (DeFi) focused teams that are “actively revolutionizing and reimagining the way we interact with money.” NEAR is also actively looking for projects building on NFTs, DAOs and gaming. On a separate note, NEAR recently raised $150 million in seed investment led by Three Arrows Capital, with additional participation from Mechanism Capital, Dragonfly Capital, a16z, Jump, Alameda, Zee Prime and more. This will be used to accelerate the adoption of Web3 technologies.

NEAR Protocol for Developers
NEAR protocol's vision of making blockchain technology accessible to all keeps driving the development efforts of NEAR Collective and the community.

In August 2022, The NEAR team announced the release of a JavaScript software development kit (JS SDK). The NEAR JS SDK is expected to open the door for more than 20 million programmers who use the JavaScript programming language in Web2 to enter the blockchain and Web3 space.

According to the NEAR team, this alone is ten times more than the global population of around 2.5 million programmers that use the most popular blockchain programming languages, Rust and Solidity. The NEAR JS SDK will leverage JavaScript's ease of use and simplicity in developing smart contracts.

“Developers can spend less time learning a new language and more time building their application in a language they already know. Millions of developers already know how to program in JavaScript; enabling this group to build novel applications on NEAR is a critical step in achieving our vision of a billion users interacting with NEAR.” Illia Polosukhin, a co-founder of NEAR, said in a statement.

The SDK, which is developed by Pagoda, the engineering team that builds and maintains NEAR Protocol and some of the most important tools needed for decentralized application (dApp) development, is implemented in TypeScript and comes out of the box with everything a developer needs to "dive right into blockchain development."

NEAR Protocol Ecosystem Expansion
With a focus on ease of use in deploying projects and user experience, the NEAR protocol has been growing rapidly. The network has recently seen the public beta launch of its non-custodial mobile wallet app, Sender.

The android APK of the wallet, which is already connected to over 20 leading projects in the NEAR ecosystem and has over 300k downloads of its web extension, can now be downloaded from Sender Labs' website. Sender Labs received seed funding from Binance Labs and Metaweb Ventures last year and closed a private funding round this year.

Since the mainnet launch of the network in 2020, NEAR protocol has seen the launch of nine dApps with a TVL of around $285 million, at the time of writing.

NEAR Protocol’s Security
Rainbow, a NEAR-Ethereum bridge, has successfully thwarted two attacks with the second hack attempt resulting in the hacker losing 2.5 ETH.

In September 2022, NEAR protocol also announced that it had successfully mitigated two vulnerabilities on Aurora, its Ethereum sidechain, through its bug bounty program.

The dynamically sharded Proof-of-Stake carbon-neutral blockchain team, built for usability and scalability, remains confident that by combining the power of both PoS and sharding, it can become one of the most scalable, secure and sustainable blockchain networks in the crypto space.

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How Many NEAR Protocol (NEAR) Coins Are There in Circulation?
The total supply of NEAR is 1 billion tokens, according to the following token distribution:

17.2% - Community Grants
11.4% - Operation Grants
10% - Foundation Endowment
11.7% - Early Ecosystem
14% - Core Contributors
17.6% - Backers
6.1% - Small Backers
12% - Community Sale
NEAR Protocol launched its mainnet on April 22, 2020 with 1 billion NEAR tokens created at genesis. 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 paid out as rebates to contracts that interact with a transaction, while the remaining 70% are burned. The NEAR token is used for:

Fees for processing transactions and storing data.
Running validator nodes on the network via staking NEAR tokens.
Used for governance votes to determine how network resources are allocated.
How Is the NEAR Protocol Network Secured?
NEAR uses a variation of the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism called Doomslug. Doomslug is based on two rounds of consensus, where a block is considered finalized as soon as it has received the first communication round. This allows for near-instant finality by having validators take turns producing blocks rather than competing directly based on their stake.

The NEAR Foundation is a Swiss-based non-profit dedicated to protocol maintenance, ecosystem funding, and guiding the protocol's governance. The protocol has also built a bridge to Ethereum, allowing users to transfer ERC-20 tokens from the Ethereum blockchain to NEAR.

Where Can You Buy NEAR Protocol (NEAR)?
NEAR is available on Binance, Huobi Global, Mandala Exchange, FTX and OKEx.

Cryptocurrency newbie? You can read more about how to enter the market and how to buy NEAR or any other token in the CoinMarketCap education portal — Alexandria.