NEAR Ecosystem Overview September 2022

NEAR Protocol (NEAR) is one of the latest blockchains to take the spotlight within the cryptoverse, offering lightning fast transactions, super low fees, simple user interfaces and great projects. NEAR is a scalable computing and storage platform for decentralized applications. It is designed to be developer-friendly with support for the Rust programming language which helps to facilitate the creation of dApps. All the ingredients are here to make NEAR a premiere DeFi hub. If you are going cross-chain, it should certainly be on your list of ecosystems to explore. In this article, we will look at some of the most popular projects on NEAR so you’ll know where to start your adventure.

Wallets

To get started on NEAR, you are going to need a wallet. Web3 users looking for an easy way to interact with this blockchain will need to look no further than NEAR Wallet. The NEAR wallet is a non-custodian, web-based wallet that can be accessed directly from your browser. If security is important to you, consider using NEAR wallet with a hardware wallet such as a Ledger. Check out our handy guide here to learn how to set up a NEAR wallet.

Bridge

If you are looking to bring your existing assets over to NEAR from another blockchain, you are going to have to use a bridge. The best option for users at this stage is the Rainbow Bridge where you can seamlessly transfer assets to NEAR and back from the Ethereum and Aurora networks. The Rainbow Bridge is trustless which means it is permissionless, decentralized and ready to adapt to future protocol changes. Transferring between the blockchains can take seconds. Check out our article about using the Rainbow Bridge here.

Block Explorer

NEAR blockchain explorer is an online blockchain browser which displays the contents of individual NEAR blocks and transactions and the transaction histories and balances of addresses. Through NEAR blockchain explorer, users and developers can access developer tools and network statistics that provide extended insights into the network.

Decentralized Exchange

When you need to trade assets or earn rewards by providing liquidity, you are going to need a decentralized exchange. The premiere DEX on NEAR is Ref Finance.

Ref Finance

Website: https://app.ref.finance/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/finance_ref 

Docs: https://guide.ref.finance/ 

Current TVL: $238 million.

If you are looking to swap assets on NEAR, Ref Finance has you covered with low fees and deep liquidity. The protocol uses Smart Routing to find the best prices for traders across multiple pools at once. Trading fees vary from 0.05% to 0.3% – this is defined when the pool is created. 80% of fees go to liquidity providers, 12% goes to xREF holder, 4% goes to a provision fund and 4% is for a referral fee, usually to the pool creator.

Users looking to earn rewards with their assets can become liquidity providers by depositing their assets to earn trading fees in addition to farming rewards. Farms support up to 16 different reward tokens. These incentives are used to attract liquidity and facilitate trading.

REF is the governance token which is also used for incentives and revenue sharing. The supply is divided with 60% to liquidity incentives, 20% to treasury, 10% to development fund, 5.5% to airdrops, 2.5% to IDO, 2.5% to liquidity provisions. Users can stake REF to receive xREF and earn a share of all trading fees. xREF will also be used for future governance voting.

Ref Finance was created by Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR Protocol with the first commit on Github made in March 2021. In June 2021, the Ref Finance DAO was created. DAO members were chosen based on their contribution. The team of developers includes Evgeny, Marco, Joe, Referencedev and Mikedotexe. Business and strategy is handled by ve$RUST and Kendall from Proximity Labs. Code has been audited by Jita and a BlockSec audit is currently underway. Additionally, there is a $250,000 bug bounty available to anyone who can find security issues in the code.

The protocol has completed private fundraising from several professional investors including Jump Crypto, Alameda Research and Dragonfly Capital. This fundraising will cover development costs for 2 years from March 2022. 

Lending Protocol

With lending protocols, you can supply assets to earn interest, put assets up for collateral, borrow, and leverage long or short assets. The major lending protocol on NEAR is Burrow.

Burrow

Website: https://app.burrow.cash/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/burrowcash 

Docs: https://docs.burrow.cash/ 

Current TVL: $57 million.

Burrow is a decentralized, non-custodial, pool-based interest rates platform which is similar to Aave, compound, Scream. Users of the platform can deposit assets to earn passive income. Interest rates are variable and depend on the utilization rate which is the % of supply that has been loaned out. Users can withdraw at any time, as long as the utilization rate is below 100%. Rewards for depositors and borrowers are paid in a combination of wNEAR, USN and BRRR. Two audits have been completed by BlockSec.

The protocol currently supports 11 assets:

  • USDC
  • USDT
  • STNEAR
  • wNEAR
  • ETH
  • LINEAR
  • DAI
  • WBTC
  • USN
  • BRRR
  • AURORA

Users can borrow if they enable assets for collateral. There is a risk of liquidation if your health factor falls below 100%. This occurs when the value that you have borrowed exceeds the maximum allowable amount. This is dependent on the size of your collateral.

BRRR is the platform’s governance token and it is also used for incentives. There is a maximum supply of 1 billion BRRR tokens. The supply of BRRR will be split with 50% to be distributed to the community, 20% to the DAO treasury, 20% to the core team and 10% to strategic investors. Users can stake their BRRR to receive xBRRR, which is similar to ve-tokens such as Curve. Benefits including boosted rewards for supplying and borrowing and participation in DAO governance voting.

Burrow is governed by the Burrow DAO. The DAO is responsible for managing the treasury and reserve funds & managing asset risk. The DAO has 5 council members who can submit and vote on proposals and 16 community board members who can vote on proposals. Eventually, xBRRR holders will replace community board members.

Conclusion

Although NEAR is not an EVM chain such as Ethereum, Fantom, or Avalanche, the main concepts remain the same. Users can bridge assets painlessly with the Rainbow Bridge, directly into a NEAR wallet or Ledger hardware wallet. Trading assets is simple with Ref Finance and if you need a lending protocol, head over to Burrow. For being such a young ecosystem, NEAR is off to a great start and it is exciting to see what will come next.

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