4NTS and GooGuild: A Business Development Proposal For NEAR Protocol

Introduction

The NEAR Ecosystem is rapidly developing. Based upon its innovative technical design there is a large amount of untapped potential in the protocol’s capacity to handle a diverse range of projects and products. 4NTS and GooGuild believe that a comprehensive plan of action is needed to fully develop this potential – across continents and Web3 solution verticals. 

The proposal below outlines, in detail, what such a plan might look like. This starts by emphasizing the importance of laying a foundation in the short term so as to create robust and sustainable development over the long term. Specific attention is then given to the types of development the NEAR Ecosystem might focus on bringing to life: regional hubs around the world, Guild and DAO supporting infrastructure, accelerators for recruiting developers and entrepreneurs, as well as a specific focus on enterprise blockchain. 

At the center of this strategy is the belief that development of the Open-Web must take place through human conversations, entrepreneurial collaboration, and enterprise engagement – in parallel with the rapid technical development taking place on NEAR.

Commercializing NEAR

Open-Source Protocols like NEAR are capable of accommodating a vast range of solutions and products. Within the crypto space, much focus is set exclusively on crypto-native solutions involving Decentralized Finance, Non-Fungible Tokens, and Social Tokens – and for good reason: As an emerging asset class a host of completely new opportunities have sprouted in recent years with high potential and low barriers to entry. 

Nevertheless, the value proposition of NEAR protocol remains applicable beyond the niche realms of crypto-native products. In fact, building out NEAR protocol as a platform for enterprise solutions, integrations with other technologies, and a larger suite of Web3 products (Finance, Privacy, Identity, Data) is important on the macro-crypto landscape in the coming decade. 

To truly commercialize NEAR involves a holistic approach to promoting and developing the Ecosystem across multiple frontiers:

1.1 Enterprise Blockchain 

For years, enterprise blockchain has been touted as an overhyped category of crypto that has failed to garner significant traction. While enterprises have typically avoided hashing data onto public smart contract platforms (largely due to privacy concerns, regulatory uncertainty, lack of broad accept and deep understanding of the topic) it is clear that blockchain-based data management is a future priority for many executes, as well as existing Web2 companies.

According to Deloitte, “84% of Executives believe that blockchain will reach the mainstream eventually.” Meanwhile, according to IDC, “Worldwide spending on blockchain solutions in 2019 is forecast to be $2.7 billion, an increase of 80% over 2018 with a forecast to reach $15.9 billion in 2023.” 

Enterprise Blockchain Means More Than Corporate Adoption

– Existing Web2 Software Service Companies.

– Emerging Technology Integrations with AI / ML / IoT Companies 

– Publicly Supported Private Infrastructure Development

It is important for NEAR to establish itself as a solution for B2B business not only because of the value that the protocol offers, but also for the larger network effects and positive feedback loops that such collaborations can bring to the protocol over time. 

What technologies win — is much less dependent on the merits of the technology and much more dependent on network effects, path dependencies, luck, all of these things. I think that is very important to keep in mind.”Frank Braun, PhD, NEAR EVM Team

Private Sharding on NEAR

A foundation for enterprise solutions on NEAR already exists with the opportunity to significantly expand into the future. Such solutions revolve around the notion of private shards, and have been explained by Illia before

“[…] in use cases around enterprises and public infrastructure…this is something that NEAR can also solve. Enterprises can easily spin up a “private shard” (similar to SaaS, or as Baidu and Alibaba call it – BaaS) for these private use cases, without any upfront investment or forming a consortium.

A private shard can also communicate with other private shards, but more importantly, communicate with applications on NEAR’s public blockchain. Essentially, various private shards can use the common public protocol to cooperate with each other while relying on the consensus to ensure security. 

4NTS and GooGuild believe that not only does private sharding and B2B solutions require more support and discussion within the Ecosystem, but that there should be an active ecosystem strategy for bringing such players into the ecosystem to build or run private enterprise solutions. 

1.2 Startup Infrastructure for Developers and Entrepreneurs

The second category of a comprehensive business development strategy, revolves around providing startup infrastructure for developers and entrepreneurs looking to build solutions on top of NEAR. The NEAR Foundation is already doing an exceptional job on this front with the rapid development of Guilds and DAOs, the NEAR Grants program, as well as the Open Web Collective Accelerator. 

To enhance this development looking ahead to the future, 4NTS and GooGuild believe that a project value chain can be created within the Ecosystem by creating and aligning the following entities:

The value chain would operate in the following manner: 

– Regional or Continental Headquarters with committed Co-Working spaces are established via umbrella support and management from a specific Guild. 

– Guilds incubate products by funding members to develop unique solutions or by collaborating with other Guilds building products. 

– DAO’s – either regionally focused or project / industry focused – work in unison with Guilds to identify and build out early stage solutions. DAO’s furthermore connect fast-growing projects to larger Venture Capital support in the Web3 space. 

– Accelerators, either run by a Guild itself, or from an external entity capable of helping projects grow, develop product market fit, and strategize entrance to new markets.

Case in Point – The Xoogler Accelerator: Antler and Entrepreneur First are legendary startup accelerators that focus on simply bringing the right people together, to look for a common solution. GooGuild – an offshoot of Xoogler – has the capacity to provide a similar service to the NEAR Ecosystem, with the added benefit of having Guilds and DAO infrastructure already in place. A Xoogler accelerator would provide design feedback, mentorship, external capital to the NEAR ecosystem, and a pathway to the market for new startups building on top of NEAR. As a complimentary initiative to the Open Web Collective, the help and support from a Xoogler accelerator, would be a long term initiative that would start reaping benefits for the ecosystem two to three years down the road. 

The goal of this value chain is to set in motion positive feedback loops that are completely self-sustaining and decentralized, apart from initial funding and support from the NEAR Foundation. Establishing multiple value chains across different continents would not only bring a host of new solutions onto NEAR, but would also incubate new guilds, contributors, and builders for existing ecosystem solutions. 

1.3 Policymakers and Consortium Initiatives

A final consideration for the ecosystem, focuses on the importance of engagement with policymakers and consortium initiatives. As recent interest from the city of Miami has demonstrated, open-source protocols like NEAR have an opportunity to not only appeal to companies and entrepreneurs, but also governments, associations, and larger industry consortiums. 

Active representation and participation in such forums is important for NEARs brand as well as it’s business development trajectory into the future. Forums that would be interesting for NEAR to have representation at include:

– The Token Engineering Commons 

– The International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA)

– The International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) 

– The Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) 

As a long term approach, open dialogue and engagement between NEAR and these forums will advance NEAR’s development interests, as well as the overall vision of an Open Web. For instance, the Blockchain Research Institute has yet to publish any research relating to Privacy and blockchain based privacy solutions.

1.4 The  Web3 Application Ideas Bank (WAIB)

To structure these different initiatives, NEAR is already putting in place the infrastructure for incubating ideas for Web3 applications. The Web3 Application Ideas Bank (WAIB) will launch as a part of the Sandbox in the coming weeks. It will provide a foundation to connect different Guids, DAOs, and outreach initiatives to concrete solutions that have already been imagined. 

Conclusion

NEAR Protocol is young. As it continues to grow, the entire ecosystem may benefit from a coordinated and intentional outreach strategy that seeks to bridge the best practices of native crypto development, with enterprise and alternative outreach strategies. 4NTS and GooGuild look forward to starting a conversation with the NEAR Foundation, the NEAR Developer Relations, Marketing, and other teams, as well as the many other Guilds and DAOs in the ecosystem to better structure and develop this strategy.

Join the discussion on the NEAR Protocol Governance Forum

True Review Is Coming to NEAR by Two’s Complement (2C): Censorship Resistant Reviews Have Arrived

This year at ETH Denver, Two’s Complement (2C) created an innovative blockchain-based application known as True Review. In light of increasing surveillance from technology behemoths and government agencies, deplatforming, and overt manipulation of user-data on the internet, True Review is a breath of fresh air for users interested in owning and using their data in a fully censorship resistant manner. 

What is True Review?

True Review is a permissionless, censorship resistant, and user-owned application for providing reviews about businesses and events. It was created by Two Complement at ETH Denver in response to notable current events, “The inspiration is very timely – Google deleted over 150,000 negative reviews on Robinhood after the GME event, causing irreparable damage between users and big tech.”

True Review balances the need for verified and legitimate reviews, with the demand for user-owned data and censorship resistant speech. Simply put, True Review allows for companies to get real feedback from real people, while customers can give honest reviews, without giving up their data or opinions to large technology companies. As intuitive as it sounds, this solution is a paradigm shift that foreshadows the future of software applications. 

How Does True Review Work?

True Review consists of four main components: (1) Verifiable User Identity Management, (2) Company verification and storage on IPFS, (3) User-Controlled review of businesses, with data stored on IPFS, and (4) Gamification of Reviewing Activities using NFT’s on NEAR!

Part 1: Users Prove Their Identity (If They Want To!) 

For optional bot or spam protection users are able to verify their identity through their Colorado Digital ID. This is for people who would like to connect themselves personally to their reviews.

Part 2: Companies Are Verified Through Their State Registry and Held in Decentralized Storage

For users to be able to know that a company is legitimately the company that they believe it to be, company registration data is identified and then stored in decentralized storage. 

Part 3: Users Can Review And Comment With Full Data Ownership

As the 2C Team explains: “People own their data by backing rich text/image/video reviews with IDX & Ceramic (all stored on IPFS of course!)” This means that no one but the user posting the review can modify or alter the review itself. 

Part 4: Gamification and Competitive Advantage on NEAR

While NFT’s are only their early days, the 2C Team was highly strategic about incorporating NFT rewards and gamification into the application. Users receive special rewards and tokens for different missions and questions built into the application. This is described by 2C in the following manner: 

1. User checks in to an Organization to complete a “quest”

2. A NEAR NFT is minted as a reward and assigned to the user’s IDX DID

3. List of each IDX DID’s tokens is stored on NEAR contract

Not only is this gamification mechanism on NEAR a competitive advantage to existing applications, but it also leaves an avenue open down the road for companies to build in special bonuses for users via NFTs (i.e. Imagine a business providing coupons, discounts, and other perks to users leaving a review for them on True Reviews). 

Why Does This Matter? The Transition From Web2 to Web3

True Review epitomizes two emerging trends that will drastically alter and enhance user freedom and ownership on the internet. The first, is the transition from Web2 to Web3 that companies like Two’s Compliment (2C) are making. These early companies understand the dangers of surveillance, and are making the early transition to the new decentralized world of the Open Web. 

Second, is the emergence of what has been coined as the Virtual Economy. For True Review, this specifically relates to the gamification and NFT component of the project on NEAR. By integrating NFT’s, the application allows for new value to be created directly between users and businesses in a mutually beneficial way for all parties involved. 

True Review On NEAR

True Review’s integration with NEAR for gamification and NFT purposes is an ideal fit for both the long-term goals of application and NEAR. In the context of True Reviews’ mission to provide censorship resistant reviews between users and businesses, NEAR support for this project via granted bounty is directly in line with the larger mission and vision of NEAR: 

“A World Where People Have Control Of Their Money, Data, Power and Governance.”

2C Teammates Building True Review:

Katy Jeremko

Nico Valencia

Julian Ramlal

Chieri Wada

Resources for True Review: 

Figma Prototype

GitHub Link

https://devfolio.co/submissions/blah-7859

NEAR Asia: Business and Development Update

It’s been a quick three months since 4NTS has had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with the NEAR Asia team. While much talk of Mintbase, the Bridge and EVM has kept the attention of many in the NEAR community, it is easy to forget the size and accomplishments of NEAR’s team in the Asia region! In this update, the NEAR Asia team breaks down their focus and future plans. What becomes clear is that NEAR’s Asia team is not only laying a foundation for future growth across multiple countries in Asia, but they are also pioneering new use-cases and solutions on top of the protocol itself. 

NEAR Mainnet Joins the BSN Ecosystem

Top of the agenda is the  highly relevant announcement that NEAR has been accepted to join the BSN Ecosystem for public chain integration. In context, this means that NEAR will integrate with official Chinese blockchain infrastructure, to streamline access to the protocol for interested developers across China. 

NEAR’s Amos Zhang added the following to the announcement: 

“BSN is essentially set up to be the infrastructure of blockchains in China and possibly beyond. If you go to the website, some of the largest companies in China including Chinese telecom and mobile, as well as some of the largest banks in China want to make it as easy as possible for developers to build on blockchain.”

The NEAR Integration with the BSN network means that NEAR is on the shortlist for both companies and individuals in China looking to quickly build blockchain applications. The long-term value of this integration is closely connected to the development of private shards on NEAR for businesses specifically:

“In the long term, NEAR has something called a Private shard, which is a permissioned part of NEAR’s blockchain which is also interoperable with other permissioned blockchains. This is for organizations, enterprises or government organizations who need to handle private — permissioned transactions on the blockchain – that is not exposed to the public. That is something we look to further explore with BSN.”

Pioneering private shards with BSN would allow users and companies to combine data immutability with a permissioned blockchain infrastructure, all connected to NEAR’s public network. While still under development, private shards represent a key avenue of innovation and development on NEAR that would provide companies with the same benefits of existing permissioned chains, but with more flexibility. 

NEAR Remains A Top Crypto In Asia

China remains at the forefront of the crypto industry in terms of both development and token interest. NEAR remains entrenched as a Top 10 Crypto in China, with a number of new initiatives and Guilds launching. Some quick updates include: 

– NEAR’s Chinese community maintains between 30 – 40 guilds alone, that focus on both fostering token and exchange communities as well as building dApps on NEAR. 

– A new Korean community is launching soon, in collaboration with validators and other high profile crypto teams. 

– The NEAR Vietnam community continues to expand, with over 8,000 members in its community channel. 

– NEAR is opening up a Shanghai Headquarters Coworking Space in the coming months. Stand by for more updates as the date gets closer. 

NEAR’s Asia Team is Focusing on Integration and Development

The final and perhaps most notable update from NEAR’s Asia team revolves around their approach to growing the NEAR Ecosystem in partnership with both existing crypto projects, as well as legacy Web2 agencies. As Amos explains: 

“We are in contact with most of the top DeFi projects on ETH right now. Most of them are definitely interested in deploying on NEAR once the interoperability is complete, as they can just redeploy a version of their contracts on NEAR with minimum efforts”

Among other projects planning to launch on NEAR in the coming months, the integration of existing DeFi initiatives from Ethereum will radically expedite NEAR’s development trajectory – both in terms of interest from the crypto community as well as tooling and infrastructure available for building new projects. 

Beyond native crypto apps and integrations, the NEAR Asia team has been able to leverage the size of the Asia user base, to appeal to a completely new client for the Ecosystem: Web2 Development Agencies. 

 “There is an interesting angle for a lot of Web2 startups to start utilizing blockchain. With just the general promotion of blockchain in China as a transformative technology — we have seen an uptake in interest in China specifically for exploring blockchain based applications. For these types of companies NEAR is a great choice: We usually have between 500k – 2 – 3 million users, and these Web2 companies – large from Western perspectives — are not too big for Chinese markets. So while these stakeholders have a decent amount of usage and clientele, they are also small and nimble enough to try something in crypto.” 

Concretely, this means that as NEAR Protocol continues to mature, with more enterprise blockchain offerings, the NEAR Asia team is actively cultivating interest from existing software development companies with client bases. This blueprint may be a foreshadowing of one of the next big waves of adoption in crypto: Enterprise and emerging technology integration with public or private blockchain networks. 

From DeFi Pulse

In the coming months, the NEAR Asia team will be focusing on helping existing and new dApps from the region expand and scale on the protocol. Planning has already started for a formal NEAR Japanese Community Hub, as well as further development in Korea. With the number of projects actively building on NEAR, as well as the impending Bridge + EVM Combo release, the coming months promise to be both exciting and important for the long term development of NEAR in the Asia region. 

ETH Denver Episode 5: A New Standard For DAOs Featuring Illia Polosukhin NiMA Asghari

The final appearance of the NEAR Team at ETH Denver featured NEAR Co-Founder Illia Polosukhin as well as NEAR’s Head of Ecosystem, NiMA Asghari. The focus of the discussion was on the nature of DAO’s and the value of DAO’s in the context of the development of crypto. A full PDF Transcript of the talk can be found here, while a YouTube video of the event can be found here

The Big Picture Value of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAOs)

Illia’s contribution to the panel was largely focused on explaining the value of DAO’s in the context of future business models for open source protocols: 

“I think, at the highest level, you know, the kind of original discussion of DAOs is about how people can self organize in new ways, and share resources and build something and be aligned…I think it unlocks a lot of on-chain, resources and other things like governance, management, and investment and stuff like this. So it kind of solves this problem right now, while we’re still figuring out just a kind of future pathway that tries to understand how we build companies in the new world?”

As he explains, DAO’s are new governance vehicles for open-source protocols that will seek to align stakeholders around common resources, objectives, and long-term opportunities. They will also be important for handling funds and investments on and between protocols. The new world that Illia refers to, is that of self-executing code: In which protocols themselves must handle contracts and engagements with other devices and protocols, while also accommodating validator and token holder governance preferences. 

The Emerging Field of DAOs

MakerDAO is one of the forefront DAOs in the DeFi space. (Source)

The substance of the panel – and the most important points pertaining to the future of DAOs – were brought up by NEAR’s Illia, as he discussed a variety of big-picture topics on how DAOs fit into new paradigms forming around crypto. 

A first paradigm relates to DAOs for inter-protocol business development purposes: 

“Oh, yeah, I think one of the examples that is emerging for sure is different application DAOs starting to be leveraged more for business development, and like, where either like individuals or, or other DAOs, or other organizations can pretty much apply to,  for this DAO to work with some other party, right? And I actually think that’s really interesting, because like, if we imagine that each organization is, you know, operating a DAO, then well, it’s like, almost they are, you know, requesting work or requesting some kind of collaboration from each other. And so that’s kind of already happening through some types of proposals and things like that.”

Raid Guild is a current working decentralized organization of designers and builders. (Website)

DAO’s would effectively put collaboration on-chain for all stakeholders to visualize and participate in ongoing collaborative processes. This is directly to the second paradigm of DAOs – as a common API for different stakeholders to collaborate within: 

There’s more projects launching, and then this DeFi explosion, right, where kind of everybody wants to have their own governance, kind of fits our platform, I think this just showcases the need, where the complexity of interaction between all of these parties will just keep growing. And if there is no clear “API” for them to interact with each other, right? Like, we’re kind of going from individuals interacting on the internet, right, to projects, like, you know, Balancer and 1inch, for example, now interacting with each other, they are interacting through smart contracts, but same time, both of them now have a governance layer, that can change, like, you know, a bunch of stuff about how these things work. And so, like this governance, people who are trying to make decisions, they need to find a way to interact with each other.”

DAO’s in this sense, are necessary infrastructure for the expansion and maturation of existing protocols and products running on-chain. As a common ‘API’ like tool, DAOs have the capacity to unify and coordinate governance between protocols. 

Challenges for DAOs: Legalities and Membership

The DAO on Ethereum was the first foray into decentralized autonomous organization back in 2016.

As the concept of a DAO is not even 10 years old, they remain extremely young with many remaining challenges. Two of the largest challenges for DAOs revolve around legal considerations, as well as the notion of membership. 

Legal considerations were explained in the panel as being constraints from two sides: 

Yeah, and I think for the LAO and people who are dealing with legal doubts, you have like these constraints from two sides, you have to formalize with respect to law, but also code and then you also have humans and communities.”

In short, DAO’s are still trying to navigate parallel worlds of legal jurisdictions, hard-coded rules, and human behavior and decision making. This ties directly into the second challenge, revolving around membership: 

“I would say it’s also always a question of like, how do you define memberships? Like you could, you could imagine in certain organizations, especially as they grow that you have certain levels, like, when you think about shares in a company, you have like voting shares, non voting shares. I mean, even, even already in Moloch V2, you have this idea of shares and loot, or we have non-voting members that have a say, if they want to reach me, they can get some of the of the asset in the DAO, but they they’re not able to vote. So I think it will also be part of that, we will have to define what do we mean, when we say membership? What kind of a machine are we interested in? And things like that.”

In short, DAO’s have yet to fully compliment the complexity of human organizational behaviors and are in need of nuances and new structures in order to accommodate a larger host of interests and behaviors for different stakeholders. As the quote above details, the next wave in DAO experimentation is precisely focused on delimiting these different roles and the weight of votes per member. 

For example, I remember with MetaCartel, there was no way initially to upgrade the DAO - NiMA Ashgari

NEAR’s NiMA Asghari went deeper on this point specifically as it pertained to formalizing DAO Standards: 

“We should probably come up with standards for DAOs, too. For example, I remember with MetaCartel, there was no way initially to upgrade the DAO. So everyone had to rage quit and then join the new DAO. So something like this should be formally defined. So if two DAOs have some kind of bond or collaboration or alliance, they know that we will have like a seven days notice period for this other DAO to get dissolved. And then like we have to return the assets and stuff. So I think that’s probably one of the reasons why we do really need to formalize DAO standards.”

Social Tokens and DAOs

One interesting area of DAO innovation is discussed in relation to using Social Tokens for DAO interactions. As the discussion goes, with a social token it is possible to limit engagement with the DAO to those willing to purchase the DAO social token in question: 

“At the root of it is you need to hold a token in order to be in this chat. And that is kind of like this beginning of a membership, or, you know, I hesitate to say, identity, because that’s a huge rabbit hole. And then you go to mixing your platform username, because we allow token holders to assemble and coordinate through telegram and discord and the bot just controls. If you were to move those tokens out, the bot would just kick you out. It’s very, very simple. It’s not quite a DAO, but we’re seeing use cases of people using Snapshot, which is an off-chain voting tool, and Collab.Land and to like formalize. I think this notion of membership, and this kind of standardization, I think, will emerge regardless.”

The Tip of the Iceberg

Sputnik DAO

DAO’s are only just starting to become common as a means of handling protocol governance in and between protocols. The panel concluded with the clear point that the current state of DAO’s is very much the tip of the iceberg. NEAR’s Sputnik DAO is one representation of the constant innovation in the space, and the many high hopes for a future involving DAOs both inside Web3 and for existing Web2 applications. 

I mean, in the Web2 space, you’re actually seeing, I think it’s Stir, they, you know, raised 4 million in October to help influencers collaborate on YouTube. And I think it was just yesterday, they announced a $100 million raise. So within four and a half, five months, they went from seed to series A, because there’s demand there, like on the Web2 space. So it’s really like this collision between Web2 creator economy influencers that needs to start collabing because they’re getting demonetised from these different platforms. And then now you see them looking into crypto with the explosion, interest, mainstream adoption, and they’re just looking for another revenue stream. So I think we’re just kind of at the tip of the iceberg.”

 

ETH-Denver Episode 4: War and Peace: The Multichain Reality Featuring NEAR Co-Founder Alex Skidanov

The fourth episode of ETH Denver featuring NEAR Team members included none-other than NEAR Co-Founder Alex Skidanov on an interesting panel focused on interoperability and the development of alternative L1 blockchains.  For a full transcript of this session, check here.

For the YouTube video of the session, check here. 

A Multichain Reality in Context

For the current state of crypto, the question of Layer 1 interoperability is a crucial consideration for future innovation within the space. The panel kicked off by emphasizing the importance of interoperability while also mentioning that there will be a suite of new use-cases, once assets are not confined to a single protocol: 

“And I think one of the interesting developments that’s happening in the interoperability is there are bridges that are being built between many protocols. So as they get deployed, the boundaries will disappear. And so assets will not be confined to the protocols on which they are born. And that will uncover many new use cases. So that’s pretty exciting.”

In many ways this conversation is reminiscent of the early, early days of the internet before large amounts of information, images, and even videos could be sent between users. From the perspective of the numerous L1s that are already rapidly developing, it is clear that a multi-chain reality in which assets are based across multiple Layer 1 Blockchains is the future of crypto. 

But Interoperability Is Not Enough By Itself

Notably, while the panelists discussed how interoperability will drastically change the number of use-cases for blockchain based solutions, they were keen to emphasize that there is another consideration that is equally important: Developer Friendliness. 

As explained in the quote below, not only is a multi-chain reality about making assets portable across different protocols, but more importantly, it is about attracting developers to build on a specific protocol in the first place:

“And that’s why I say if there’s going to be a winning interoperability solution, or most adopted interoperability solution, it’s going to be a protocol that’s doing a lot more than just connecting the blockchains, right? It needs to have a robust infrastructure of applications at the nexus of these interoperable links, in order to fulfill that end user vision that we all have, right? So if you’re looking at a pure, just simple bridge, or, you know, trustlessly, swapping tokens between chains, like that’s interesting and a good step towards an interoperable future, but what you really are going to want, an application developers are going to want, is the ability to access all of the different technologies in the space from one, I want to say a central protocol that’s enabling that trustless transaction across chain, and presenting it in a way to the end user that they don’t even necessarily see any of what’s happening under the hood.”

In the context of NEAR, this bodes extremely well: NEAR is one of the most developer friendly blockchains currently running on a Main network, with developers able to build in Rust and AssemblyScript. This advantage was clearly pointed out: 

“So, you know, I think the first chain that does have users, developers will go there. You have to if you want people to use your stuff, you have to go where there are  users, but in lieu of users, ease of experimentation, and then ease of just integrating your tech makes it a much easier pill to swallow. And that’s where I think actually NEAR has some serious advantages.”

The Future Of Multi-Chain Interoperability is Largely Speculative

One final point worth mentioning is just how unclear the future of multi-chain interoperability really is. As the panelists discussed, while many new L1s have ambitious plans for interoperability and cross-chain assets, specifically with Ethereum, few of them have actually realized their ambitions yet: 

“I’m also not seeing people beat down the door and say, give me the most abstract and fancy library that can do everything. Because mostly, they’re just on Ethereum. And everything else that we’re talking about right now, it’s sort of speculative, right? So I hope that our community, across all of our networks, continues to care about being permissionless, and open innovation, rather than just sort of like pay-to-play from the get go. But a lot of that, I think, is about the ideals of people on this call, rather than what the market has said. And we’re gonna find out over the next few years, you know, the market will weigh in.”

Importantly, what also is yet to be determined is the place that L2s will play in this rapidly developing future ecosystem of Layer 1 Protocols: 

“I’m a very strong believer that with respect to layer twos, we’re not going to see just one or even two. I think users will self select for the right type of use case. And I think it’s gonna be very similar with different layer ones. Maybe the shared security is preferable for some types of DApps and users.”

Mintbase is Going Live on TestNet Soon: Here Is Why That Matters

Mintbase Co-Founder Nate Geier recently did a presentation at ETH Denver on new developments to Mintbase as it prepares for Test-Net launch on NEAR. A full transcript of the talk can be found here, while a Youtube video is available below

Nate’s talk is accessible and informative for those new to crypto and unfamiliar with NFTs. Among other topics he delves into the value proposition of NFT’s, the migration to NEAR, and the ease with which anyone can create stores on Mintbase at a cheaper cost than ever before. Based upon these developments, however, the larger context encompassing Mintbase’s rise is even more important for understanding how unique its value proposition is, and its implications for the future of NFT’s and crypto as a whole. 

Why Did Mintbase Migrate To NEAR? A Hidden Value Proposition

To get started, it’s important to understand the reasoning behind why Mintbase migrated over to NEAR. After all, before making the move, Mintbase was a top dApp on Ethereum with over 1,000 stores and 82,000 transactions: 

“So what is Mintbase on Ethereum? We have 1014 stores. That means that each one of our stores is a smart contract deployed by our users. So that’s, that’s a lot of stores in each store, I think at this point it is now in three, four to $800 to deploy. So that obviously isn’t isn’t a good, good process. We have over 82,000 transactions. A lot of folks probably new to the NFT space, haven’t heard about us because we’re kind of the source of people who meant and then they get sold on open sea or variable and moved around the ecosystem. without really coming back to us.”

With such success, what prompted Carolin and Nate to make the switch to NEAR? As Nate explains in his ETH Denver presentation: 

“We care that the token does something and that multiple people can use it, and it gives the world more value. That’s, that’s our prime goal. And I’m pretty excited about our move.”

In short, NFT’s on Ethereum are cost-prohibitive for those who already have enough money to deploy a store or pay for transaction fees. 

“The challenge with NFT’s right now, I was talking to an artist on Twitter last night digital artists, and he let me know that minting an NFT currently is 200 bucks on the main chain for three. So clearly, this is an opportunity for scalability to step in, whether it’s layer two on the main net, or whether it’s scalable blockchains.” – ETH Denver Introduction

As a result, an entire audience of users are unable to access the innovative potential of non-fungible tokens – across applications: Music, Art, Tickets, Event Hosting, etc. Mintbase’s move to NEAR seeks to make NFT’s accessible to anyone at a cost-effective rate. The implication of this is still not fully appreciated: 

When Mintbase Launches on NEAR it will be the most cost-effective, open, and decentralized NFT platform in all of crypto. With the help of the NEAR – ETH Rainbow Bridge, NFT’s on mintbase will be able to be sold on any existing Ethereum Marketplace as well as on NEAR. 

The question that needs to be asked is, once Mintbase launches fully, and once the EVM and Rainbow Bridge are complete, why would anyone, use a more expensive platform to mint NFT’s, if they can make more money while maintaining the same amount of access with Mintbase?

This value proposition has not escaped smart money in crypto, including non-other than Matthew Graham and Sino Global Capital: 

How does Nate Find NEAR So Far?

Mintbase officially migrated over to NEAR in October of 2020. In the last 5 months, Nate and Carolin have been able to see first-hand what NEAR offers, work with the NEAR Team, and get a feel for the value proposition of the protocol. As one of the first projects to migrate onto NEAR, it is useful to pay attention to their experience: 

 “And at this point, we’re six months deep, I’m still quite happy that we’re jumping in here. I need the chain to be decentralized. So I think right now, NEAR has over 90, or has over 60 nodes, the last I checked, running, that’s a pretty beefy system, I need to see all the transactions on chain. So when you see a lot of other platforms, and they’re doing a lot of the stuff behind the scenes on their own servers, it’s kind of going backwards. With where we’re heading, we want to see as many transactions on chain because this revolution that we have on blockchain is that it’s all transparent.”

Beyond the decentralized component of NEAR (which Ethereum very much shares as well), Nate also spoke about faster transactions and his newfound love of Rust as a programming language: 

I think we’re flying at like one every one and a half seconds or something like that. So a lot different from the 30 seconds to Two Minute times you get on Ethereum.”

For Rust, Nate points out the strategic value in attracting non-crypto developers to Web3 solutions through the familiar yet complex programming language: 

But from what I picked NEAR for me personally, was because they’re using rust. Rust is a fascinating language. It’s one of the most loved languages by GitHub polling, and I totally get it.”

This exact sentiment was also echoed by Matthew Graham in his discussion on NEAR and what will attract the developers of tomorrow: 

Let’s Talk Mintbase: How Does It Work And What Still Needs To Be Done?

Beyond NEAR, and the migration of Mintbase over to NEAR, the full scope of services offered by Mintbase as a product remains underappreciated: Mintbase is a decentralized and open platform for anyone and everyone to mint non-fungible tokens for an application of their choosing.

The decentralized component of Mintbase is showcased in how a user interacts with the product: 

A user comes onto our system, they deploy a smart contract, and then NFT’s on that contract. All NFT metadata files, whether it’s legal documents, sound files, game documents, all get stored on Arweave. And you can deploy as many stores and every single store your own smart contract, you can organize an aggregate. And so that has been the mission for quite a while. If mintbase dies tomorrow, there’s always the goal that your contracts and your NFT’s will live on. That’s been our sole mission from the beginning.”

The numerous different applications that these NFT’s can be created for, remains severely underdeveloped, as much focus has been strongly on Digital Art: 

“We have this focus on purpose. An NFT can be used for many different things, we always make a reference to tickets like, Great I have taken it gets me into a conference. That’s just using Eventbrite, right. But anybody can actually use that NFT to do whatever they want. Let’s say I’m a video game production system. And I want to say whoever is the owner of that ticket for the next two months, you will actually get a faster character. And so the goal of our market is really going to be showing liquidity and what liquidity isn’t always monetary, it’s about Wow, that makes my character run faster, it gets me into a conference, I can stay at a co-working space for that week. This is the prime focus of our system. So when they submit their token, and collaborate within the split fee system, these groups can actually even link to their own internal blogs that say what the actual thing can do. So that’s quite exciting.” 

In short, the entire non-fungible token marketplace remains severely underdeveloped. Mintbase is building a platform that not only accommodates existing demand for digital art – in a user-friendly and price-sensitive manner – but also larger demand for future applications that have not even gone mainstream yet. 

Note for Context: The NFT Market is estimated to be valued at less than $300 million USD. 

Next Steps for Mintbase?

To conclude, it is useful to review the development timeline of Mintbase, in light of the larger development of the NEAR Ecosystem. Here is what Nate said users can expect from Test-Net: 

“We’re going to be deploying on test net and let people start jumping in starting next week [middle of February], we’d have some last minute little decision not to do and actually to participate in the system, you will have to own an NFT a test net NFT to actually deploy stores, but anyone will be able to come in and receive test NFT’s and move them around and actually check out how the system works. on your own time. It’ll probably be about a month before the audits start.”

In line with the development of the NEAR EVM and the Rainbow Bridge, it appears that all three projects will be officially launching to Main Net at around the same time in early April. For Mintbase and for NEAR, that is a very bullish sign for the future of crypto and NFT’s. 

“When as soon as we start checking people in for planes, or for doing all the other millions of things we can do with these things. That’s when I’m going to get hyper excited.” 

ETH Denver Episode 3: Where Are My Keys? With Matt Lockyer

In the third presentation from the NEAR Team at ETH Denver, Head of Developer Relations, Matt Lockyer gave a very insightful presentation on the nature of Keys on NEAR. For a full link to the transcript of the talk see here. The topics that Matt covered surrounded NEAR as an L1, Keys on NEAR, Selling an NFT by calling the applications contract, and most notably, the bigger picture significance of all of these developments on NEAR: 

What is NEAR, and How Are Keys Different?

Matt kicks off the presentation by detailing how people can think of NEAR, in the bigger picture of L1s and L2s developing in Crypto:

“So we are an L1, but we like to think of the tools that we are spending a lot of time and a lot of money and resources on building as potential L2 solutions for developers. So we’re building a lot of really great technology that goes hand in hand with that incredible developer experience making your life super easy to, to basically scale up with NEAR. And that falls under two broad categories, the Rainbow Bridge, and the EVM.”

With this understanding of NEAR, Matt explains the uniqueness of Keys at NEAR specifically in relation to function-call limited permissions: 

“Now this key comes with some sort of caveats. I’ll just go to my presentation here, it is scoped to the receiving account ID. So it’s basically going to have method call scope to, to basically that app account. So it can, it can’t do anything else. It can’t run around NEAR and like do a bunch of other stuff. It’s scoped to the methods in the contract. So you can actually give it fine grained control. And it’s given a gas allowance, so I can’t burn more gas than the app is willing to give me for this key pair.”

In short, applications on NEAR can be programmed to provide a minimum allowance of tokens to users, who don’t even have to touch a wallet to use a platform or service. 

And remember, I don’t have any NEAR I just came to this site, and I just clicked a button, I said, Give me you know, let me be a guest. So I’m going to paste that in. I hope I got this right. I did it before, I want the image to show up, the actual image like, so if I go there. Oh, yay, it showed up. Okay. So that’s our fearless leader NEAR punk Ilia here. So I am going to sell this. I’m going to raise some money for myself. So I’m going to sell it by setting the price to five NEAR. 

In the example of the Demo Matt is able to demonstrate how a user could hypothetically create an NFT on NEAR and sell that NFT without having to even open up a wallet or an account at the time. 

Now, I’m still just some floating key, some random key that I’m not sure how much I trust this key. And I’m just floating around in this app. Right? But I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even I haven’t even seen the NEAR wallet. As far as this guest account is concerned. They’ve never seen the NEAR wallet. But now they have funds. They have funds kind of waiting for them in escrow. So I’m actually going to go to the NEAR wallet and you can see my very advanced naming convention here.”

What Does This Mean For Mainstream Adoption?

While Matt’s talk is technical and difficult to wrap your head around, the significance of key innovation on NEAR holds massive implications for the possibility of mainstream adoption of crypto by non-crypto or non-technical users:

“So why it matters, some thoughts on mainstream adoption. So you want to piggyback on existing behavior. So people are already used to just coming to an app and clicking like sign in with this sign in with that, let them do it, let them try it, right? And this is a nice, easy way for you to fund your users and just get them to create stuff. And if they don’t create anything, then delete their account after a certain amount of time. I mean, you know, you kind of gave them that key, you could build in a functionality to just, you know, wipe it out or say your account’s expiring. I mean, we don’t have to go all the way, right from the first start. I mean, I remember those 14 steps to sign in with Metamask. So yeah, align the incentives. So first, make them money. So you saw an example of that in the app. And then profits equals a chance to teach people. So once people have some skin in the game, you can teach them stuff and you can tell them how to upgrade to Full Wallet, and then you just repeat it.” 

While Matt’s example is specific to minting and selling NFT’s on a marketplace, it remains open for other applications with the same underlying development principles encoded into the design of NEAR: 

“I was able to give them an access key, and me as the application developer, I know that they have an allowance, they can, because of my contract, they can only do three free NFT mints, I’ve kind of got them like boxed. I can even take a fee from their first sale. So I can actually read when they sell an NFT. And I can take back the fee that I gave them with that access key. So it’s really cool.”

One Final Point On Rust: Use it!

Matt’s talk concluded with a final point on Rust, the core programming language of NEAR. Building off of Nate Geier’s strong support for Rust, Matt echoes Nate by explaining how easy Rust is to learn, as well as the ‘box of goodies’ found inside the NEAR SDK:

“So a lot of people go, “Oh, Rust. Oh, I already learned solidity bla it’s so hard.” It’s actually not that hard. It looks a lot like solidity I mean, it’s typed. There’s a bunch of helpers here. What’s really nice is that the NEAR SDK kind of has like a big big box of goodies in it. If you want to learn about rust smart contracts on NEAR you just go to like docs.rs and search for NEAR.”

Matt’s talk provides a first insight into the new world of accounts and keys on NEAR Protocol. For anyone in crypto interested in real innovation taking place in the industry, there is no better place to start than on NEAR.