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A brief history
NEAR Protocol launched its main net in 2020 and was founded by Alex Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin. Skidanov was formerly director of engineering at the database company MemSQL while Polosukhin previously worked at Google. The NEAR Protocol is a blockchain that aims to promote Web3 adoption. It does this by offering high speeds, low fees, multi-chain interoperability, and a progressive UX that is developer and user-friendly. Central to NEAR Protocol’s design is the concept of sharding, a process that aims to split the network’s infrastructure into several segments for computers, also known as nodes, to only have to handle a fraction of the network’s transactions. NEAR also introduces a novel consensus mechanism called Doomslug. Doomslug aims to boost efficiency while ensuring blocks achieve finality within seconds by having validators take turns producing blocks rather than competing directly based on their stake.
NEAR in practice
NEAR is the native utility token of the NEAR protocol. NEAR is used for incentivizing nodes on the NEAR network and is also used for powering transactions, smart contracts, running applications and paying for storage. Applications on NEAR pay storage fees for any data that they store on the network and for performing computations. The network then partially “burns” these tokens, reducing the circulating supply of NEAR tokens in the process. Validators, who run the NEAR Protocol software and ensure transactions are accurate, receive rewards in NEAR for maintaining the blockchain’s security and staking their tokens. Additionally, NEAR token holders can participate in the on-chain governance of the NEAR platform, with the option of having a validator vote on their behalf. It should also be noted that the NEAR Protocol increases its token supply by 5% each year, with 90% of these newly released tokens going to validators, with the remainder going to the blockchain’s treasury to support platform development.