NEAR Protocol: Primed for the Crypto Winter

Navigating Web3 right now is no walk in the park. As the world continues to feel the effects of an economic slowdown and a swelling of prices from inflation, Web3 is experiencing a contraction in participants and venture capital. This can be disheartening for those looking to invest in crypto projects, as many are struggling to secure sufficient funding or seeing slower monthly Web3 developer activity than in 2020 or 2021.

Despite this adversity, there remains considerable potential both now and in the future. Major brands and companies have continued to commit to crypto, including Nike, which launched its Web3 digital community .Swoosh during the 2022 downturn. Even traditional financial institutions have continued to further their adoption. During the onset of the FTX contagion in November, for example, JP Morgan continued to file a crypto wallet trademark with the USPTO. While some may see this crypto winter as the end, others see it as an opportunity that could witness Web3 revenue grow up to $23.3 billion by 2028.

For NEAR Protocol, this crypto winter is a time for conviction. While a broader downturn in the market has caused some projects to put innovation on hold, NEAR Protocol is continuing to move forward with its objectives and committing to develop resilience and strengthen its foundations for the future.

Since its mainnet launch in late 2020, the NEAR ecosystem has become one of the top layer-one blockchains in Web3. NEAR ranked #8 for developer activities and had the third-highest amount of growth behind only Solana and Polkadot, according to the latest Electric Capital Developer Report. NEAR has amassed over 22 million accounts, 600,000 monthly active wallets and grown its users and projects fifteen fold in the past year alone. Despite the global economic downturn, NEAR Foundation has sufficient capital to sustain at least five years of operations in bear market conditions thanks to responsible treasury management.

The power of NEAR Protocol, paired with the support and conviction of the NEAR Foundation, has made NEAR primed for the crypto winter.

How NEAR Foundation is focusing during a crypto winter

NEAR Foundation’s mission is to remove every barrier for Web3 creators by creating an ecosystem that is uniquely simple, safe, scalable and sustainable. While Web3 and NEAR are still in their early stages, long-term commitments both in time and resources are necessary to deliver on the promise of decentralized technology.

In the dark days of crypto winter, the NEAR Foundation continues to shine light on the protocol’s supporters and aims to sharpen its focus on several key areas as the Web3 world waits for spring.

Taking a Web2.5 approach

The NEAR Foundation is committed to a Web2.5 approach to bringing more users to Web3. Rather than creating uniquely Web3 applications and projects for the NEAR ecosystem, NEAR Foundation is focused on supporting projects providing real use cases that are valuable and beneficial to users, such as ticketing and earning.

Take SeatlabNFT, for example, an NFT event ticketing marketplace that helps artists foster closer connections with fans by eliminating fraud and reducing the impact of scaling. Seatlabs aims to remove exploitative middlemen like Ticketmaster from artist-fan experiences. This Web2.5 approach to NFTs provides a real-world use case that doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful.

To ensure that projects have maximum impact, the team is focusing on high quality projects with more value than hype. Particularly, NEAR Foundation is looking to support projects focused on high-traction verticals such as sports, entertainment and loyalty. One example of the NEAR Foundation’s commitment to these verticals is its partnership with Few and Far, which provides a community-first experience for groups and creatives that rewards participants for their loyalty and participation. The Foundation also just announced a new partnership with Dropt, a Web3 platform for fan loyalty and engagement. For one of its first integrations, Dropt will be partnering with an NBA championship team, led by one of the most dominant players in the world. With more partnerships on the horizon, NEAR Foundation is looking inward at applications to boldly move through the crypto winter.

Beyond partnering and working with applications, the NEAR Foundation is establishing key partnerships with leading Web2 and traditional companies to further drive high quality projects and users into the NEAR ecosystem. NEAR has already partnered with industry leaders including Google Cloud, Grupo Netresa, Sweat Economy and others.

Building out key infrastructure

NEAR Protocol has long been championed as a fast, secure and scalable blockchain. As a smart contract-enabled blockchain, NEAR’s decision to build a strong foundation on proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus put the protocol 10 years ahead of Ethereum. In that vein, the NEAR Foundation continues to keep its focus on improving and building out key infrastructure.

One of NEAR’s recent key improvements: rolling out Nightshade sharding, which allows the blockchain to reach finality in under three seconds and maintain transaction costs of under $0.01. NEAR Foundation and its community developers are approaching phases 2 and 3 of Nightshade, priming the protocol for a more secure, efficient and scalable future.

NEAR Foundation is also committed to making NEAR a blockchain operating system. Much like a computer operating system or a smartphone app store, NEAR aims to create an integrated and seamless experience for developers and users alike. Through these improvements, NEAR will be able to provide a more comprehensive experience for its users, allowing for a wider range of applications and use cases to build, create and connect with communities.

Many of the blockchain operating system’s building blocks are already in place, like NEAR Crowd and NEAR Social. NEAR Crowd is a gig economy platform that lets participants complete simple tasks and earn NEAR. NEAR Social is a social data protocol built on top of NEAR that provides social network experiences similar to Mastodon.

Demonstrating the value of building on NEAR

The NEAR platform is the perfect solution for developers, founders and creatives due to its ease of use, developer-friendly features and accessibility. Built by developers, for developers, NEAR makes building easy. With a suite of developer tools and deep, straightforward documentation, NEAR has created an environment for developers to focus on their community rather than syntax.

For founders and creatives, NEAR has consistently provided one of the most straightforward user experiences. Building on its Web2.5 vision, NEAR Protocol is designed for everyone and skips over Web3’s non-intuitive processes that can gatekeep everyday creatives. NEAR Foundation has also maintained its support for those looking to create and build on NEAR Protocol, partnering with innovative projects like More Than Us, who are incubating some of the strongest communities and collectives to help further the creator economy.

The NEAR Foundation is taking this proactive position a step further in 2023, with the formation of an early-stage accelerator which will help support promising ecosystem projects and founders across areas such as education, tech, hiring, legal, UX and GTM guidance. This accelerator will be funded through grants, primarily from three major community DAOs: Developer DAO, Marketing DAO and Creatives DAO. Through these community DAOs, NEAR has created a culture that supports grassroots initiatives and empowers the community to invest in the ecosystem’s expansion.

It’s not easy being in Web3 at the moment. With a global economic slowdown and high inflation, Web3 is experiencing a contraction in users and venture capital. But amidst this duress is considerable opportunity. For NEAR Protocol, this crypto winter is a time for conviction.