NEAR 2022: A Year in Review

NEAR Foundation
December 23, 2022

Introduction

It’s been a whirlwind year for NEAR – and it’s hard to believe that 2022 is coming to an end. It’s been a year filled with massive milestones and achievements, including the biggest NEARCON ever, record-breaking new wallet creation, and much more.

With 2023 around the corner, it’s a great time to reflect and take stock of all the exciting happenings and announcements that took place in 2022. NEAR Foundation congratulates every developer, community member, and partner that made 2022 a blast.

Without further ado, here’s everything that happened with NEAR in 2022, how the ecosystem is successfully navigating bear market conditions, and why NEAR is primed for explosive growth heading into 2023!

Protocol Progress and JavaScript SDK

The last 12 months saw huge progress on the protocol level, with an exciting roadmap charting the course for 2023 and beyond. From staking upgrades to new developer tools, the NEAR protocol made huge strides in onboarding new builders and the next 1 billion users.

NEAR introduced the brand new JavaScript SDK, enabling developers to build on NEAR using the most popular programming language in the world. Brendan Eiche, the inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of privacy-first browser Brave, even joined a panel at NEARCON to discuss the new SDK, Brave’s new support of Aurora, and why he’s excited about NEAR.

NEAR also saw the introduction of meta-transactions, allowing third parties to pay transactions for the transaction cost of any account. Users can then be onboarded to NEAR apps without owning any NEAR tokens. Meta transaction development will continue through next year and will be critical to new wallet growth.

Stake Wars’ latest iteration also began in 2022, marking another step towards decentralizing the network. Stake Wars will increase the total number of validators as chunk-only producers for the next phases of sharding. The chunk-only producer role will be more accessible to new validators who don’t have sufficient $NEAR to run a Block Producer node.

Phase 1 of Nightshade Sharding Commences

Stake Wars was a critical step in the transition from Simple Nightshade to Phase 1 of sharding in 2022. As Phase 1 continues, total validators will increase from around 100 to 300, with a significantly lower seat price. Phase 1 was crucial to facilitate scaling, improve decentralization, and bring the Open Web to mass adoption.

There will be an 86% decrease in collateral requirements to become a chunk-only producer as Phase 1 of Nightshade concludes in 2022 and continues into the next year. Phase 1 went live on mainnet in September 2022 with key contributions and assistance from the Pagoda team.

As NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin told CoinDesk in the lead-up to the Phase 1 roll-out, “the more users the network gets, the more decentralized the network gets as well.” This allows NEAR to add more validators in response to more demand for the network, delivering on the promise of speed, scalability, and efficiency. 

Major Strides in Funding and Transparency

A thriving NEAR ecosystem requires resources and trust, both of which made major strides. The birth of Transparency Reports assured the community that all core stakeholders in NEAR are operating in good faith and from a position of financial strength. These reports provide important information about the health of the protocol and ecosystem, including staking distribution, daily transactions, and new accounts created. (Read the Q3 Transparency Report.)

NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament also hosted a post-FTX AMA, re-assuring the ecosystem of NEAR’s runway and explaining why the current bear market is a time for a conviction to build.

To see how NEAR Foundation and other ecosystem funding projects have been distributing portions of the $800M in funding throughout 2022, check out Q1/Q2 and Q3 Transparency Reports. Key areas of funding include Proximity Labs and DeFi, DAOs, NFT infrastructure, and Regional Hubs. The NEAR Digital Collective (NDC) was also announced and launched at NEARCON, with one of the goals being to further decentralize and democratize grants giving and decision-making processes.

Ecosystem Growth

NEAR’s 2022 was one of huge growth and innovation. New partnerships like Sweatcoin and SailGP were major stepping stones toward bringing Web3 to the masses. Projects in areas such as gaming, music, and NFTs showcased that the NEAR ecosystem is thriving and poised for new heights in 2023.

The NEAR protocol experienced 15x growth in cumulative accounts over the past year with 22M+ today. NEAR also has 900K monthly active wallets, marking a major increase from this time last year. And in 2022, the NEAR ecosystem generated $330M of external capital in projects building on NEAR. 

Movement Economy

One of the biggest catalysts for new NEAR wallet and account creation was the partnership with Sweatcoin. The $SWEAT token rewards users for every step they take throughout the day, encouraging users to live healthy lifestyles. Sweatcoin migrating to NEAR pushed total wallets from 2 million at the beginning of the year to over 20 million by November. As Flament pointed out during the Sweatcoin keynote at NEARCON, the movement economy is in its infancy, and NEAR is poised to be a leader in the space with the help of Sweatcoin.

DAO Innovation

Another huge addition to the NEAR ecosystem was the world-renowned boat racing league, SailGP. SailGP partnered with NEAR to pioneer the intersection of sports, Web3, and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). In addition to offering NFT collectibles on the NEAR blockchain to fans, SailGP will use AstroDAO tooling to create the first fan-owned team as a DAO. In addition to the growth of ecosystem projects like Kin DAO for equity and inclusion, it was a banner year for NEAR and DAOs.

Blockchain Music

You may not have noticed, but 2022 saw a massive surge in interest about music and Web3. And one of the most innovative projects in this area was in the NEAR ecosystem, with the launch of Endlesss. The music creation, marketing, and community development platform’s NEAR integration went live in the summer as a virtual gathering place blending social media features with music production tools. Endlesss enables musicians of all skill levels to conduct “jam sessions” on the NEAR blockchain and mint their music as NFTs. 

Gaming

The NEAR ecosystem got a huge dose of star power with the unveiling of Armored Kingdom. Backed by Hollywood star Mila Kunis, Armored Kingdom will be an immersive gaming, NFT, storytelling, and metaverse experience built on the NEAR blockchain. The project kicked off with a first edition NFT comic book airdrop at Consensus, Austin. NEAR also announced the launch of the South Korea Regional Hub with a focus on bringing the NEAR blockchain to the massive local game development community. 

PlayEmber also established itself as a key player in the NEAR gaming ecosystem, taking a mobile-first approach to Web3 gaming and bringing advertisers into the space. PlayEmber’s games now have over 4.2 million monthly active users, and recently closed a $2.3 million pre-seed raise led by Shima Capital.

NFTs

With core NFT infrastructure maturing in the NEAR ecosystem, 2022 was a year of innovative use cases and groundbreaking projects. NEARCON saw the announcement of a key grant to Few and Far, a premium NFT marketplace on NEAR with a seamless UX and simple minting solutions. One of NEAR’s biggest NFT projects, Mintbase, received over $12 million in funding this August. Mintbase empowers niche creators with the ability to mint NFTs of any type with little technical know-how, exemplifying NEAR’s commitment to making Web3 easy for everyone.

Looking Ahead

From the launch of Phase 1 sharding to protocol upgrades and ecosystem growth, 2022 was a huge leap for the NEAR ecosystem in many respects. It’s the year that the “Create Without Limits” vision was introduced, the biggest NEARCON ever took place, and some of the most important partnerships in the history of NEAR were cemented. It was also a year in which NEAR committed to more transparency and communication with the community.  

Looking forward, NEAR will continue to champion Web3 as a catalyst for change, in addition to environmental sustainability as a carbon-neutral blockchain. In 2023, the NEAR community can expect even more partnerships that push boundaries and support projects that will enhance and empower a prosperous NEAR ecosystem.


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