NEAR’s Road to Decentralization: Building Bridges
The NEAR community’s big-picture vision has always been straightforward — onboard billions of people into Web3. In this new iteration of the Internet, blockchain platforms and apps will be decentralized, open-source, transparent, and humane. This Open Web will be full of utility, encouraging maximum participation from developers and end-users.
Web3 won’t be dependent on central authorities to access services like social media, games, Metaverse experiences, and more. Decentralization, coupled with permissionless systems (i.e, open or public smart contracts), will give people a greater sense of ownership, control, and protection over their data in alignment with the financial outcomes of decentralized apps (dapps). With this regulatory foundation—or governance, as it is referred to in crypto—humanity can evolve into a new era of borderless economic opportunity for all.
A future built on creativity, community, and inclusivity requires a core based on interoperability between blockchains. There is no single blockchain that will own Web3. NEAR and other blockchain communities understand that the future is multi-chain, and bridges and decentralization are critical to getting there.
Rainbow Bridge: the first step toward a multi-chain future
Enter Rainbow Bridge, one of the first fully permissionless, decentralized, and openly accessible bridges in the crypto-sphere. Almost a year after launch, Rainbow Bridge has more than a dozen projects utilizing this technical infrastructure.
In connecting NEAR and Ethereum, Rainbow Bridge is a major first step toward the multi-chain future, allowing developers to use NEAR’s fast, simple, and low-cost transaction network to move assets back and forth between the two protocols. Crucially, Rainbow Bridge gives NEAR users access to familiar projects on Ethereum.
The development of Rainbow Bridge evolved, as many blockchain projects do, out of a necessity to solve an immediate engineering problem: how does a project on a separate blockchain migrate its services to another without having to rebuild the entire product from scratch. Thanks to NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge, any token or Dapp that uses Ethereum’s Virtual Machine can run on NEAR. With this capability in place, the NEAR ecosystem is able to integrate ERC20 with native NEAR solutions. Anyone can use NEAR as a technical backend while operating in the Ethereum ecosystem. The NEAR-ETH Rainbow Bridge is entirely permissionless and decentralized. No single entity controls it.
With Rainbow Bridge, NEAR effectively becomes a collaborative Layer 2 solution for existing applications and assets deployed on Ethereum. In addition to solving the problem of high gas fees and barriers to entry and scaling, NEAR brings about an additional value proposition: it’s incredibly easy to use and simple to get to grips with.
Rainbow Bridge advances NEAR’s larger goal of advancing Web3 to create a more open and inclusive internet and financial ecosystem. The key is to empower NEAR community members to operate in a high quality, scalable, and self-sufficient manner.
Pagoda: accelerating ideation to application for Web3
For developers looking to use Rainbow Bridge or other bridges, the NEAR community offers a number of projects, tools, and resources to get started.
Pagoda, the first-ever Web3 startup platform, gives developers and entrepreneurs access to interactive tutorials, scalable infrastructure, and operational analytics that are Web3 native. Using Pagoda’s Developer Console, tools and resources can be found at every layer of the stack, from the base blockchain protocol all the way up to the application and marketing and distribution layers. Aurora, the builders of Rainbow Bridge, also offers a number of resources on their website to developers looking to build atop their EVM.
With this technical foundation, NEAR has already begun its journey of creating a network of interoperable blockchains.
Other bridges and collaborative partnerships
NEAR is, at its core, an ecosystem. The technology is just one part of the equation, with the platform’s true infrastructure being its self-directed, decentralized community. Human decisions are the heartbeat of NEAR and its partnerships.
A number of exciting projects are already showcasing the collaborative efforts happening within the vibrant NEAR ecosystem. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
A turnkey solution for developers seeking to extend their dapps to reach additional markets, Aurora uses a number of NEAR’s core technologies, including sharding and developer gas fee remuneration.
The solution consists of two core components. The first is the Aurora Engine, which allows for the seamless deployment of Solidity and Vyper smart contracts. The second is the Aurora Bridge. Based on NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge technology, Aurora Bridge enables the permissionless transfer of tokens and data between Ethereum and Aurora.
In December 2021, Allbridge announced an integration between Aurora and Terra, an open-source stablecoin network controlled by its stakeholders. The connection between the two networks brings Terra liquidity to the Aurora ecosystem.
As a modular and expanding token bridge with on-chain consensus, Allbridge provides a fast, affordable, and secure way to move liquidity between EVM, non-EVM, and L2 blockchains. Allbridge’s mission is to make the blockchain world borderless, with the ability to freely move assets across different networks.
A decentralized network natively built on NEAR Protocol, Octopus provides out-of-box security, interoperability, and on-chain governance to projects that are creating application-specific blockchains (appchains) for their open web applications.
Built around the $OCT Token, Octopus Network functions as a composable means by which applications can operate with different security parameters on NEAR. Octopus Network Relay runs a smart contract on NEAR, which provides infrastructure for a validator network that brings partners together.
In December 2021, NEAR Foundation and WOO Network completed a $5M token swap to create a partnership between the two projects. Think of this partnership, in which NEAR and WOO Network share tokens, as a symbolic bridge of sorts.
For the NEAR community, WOO Network provides a liquidity ecosystem that connects traders, exchanges, institutions, and DeFi platforms with access to liquidity, trading execution, and yield-generating strategies. For Woo Network, NEAR provides a carbon-neutral, high-scalability platform built on a proof-of-stake, layer-1 blockchain.
Roadmap for connecting new networks
The future is collaborative — a web of blockchain protocols and decentralized projects working together to build Web3. While NEAR wants to be the onramp for a billion users, the community also wants to help enable all ships to rise to meet the challenge of onboarding the world to Web3. And the NEAR ecosystem has the grants funding, technical infrastructure, and community resources and tools to help make this happen.
In October 2021, the NEAR ecosystem announced a $800M grants fund to accelerate the development of its blockchain. Of this $800M, the largest allocation — $350M from Proximity Labs — will go towards developing the protocol’s DeFi sector. A DeFi DAO will govern how these funds are spent. These grant funds will be absolutely crucial in connecting with new networks for the multi-chain Web3 future.
On March 2, 2022, NEAR announced a new partnership with Multichain, the most popular bridging platform in the crypto space, which supports more than 1,600 tokens, hundreds of millions of dollars in daily transactions, and 540,000 users. As a bridge operator, Multichain has developed the technology for all blockchains to interoperate. With this partnership, NEAR’s user-friendly interfaces and tools are now extendable across the entire Web3 ecosystem. The partnership is a meaningful step forward towards the advancement of a global network of open Web 3 platforms.
A decentralized future begins with the right infrastructure. NEAR is committed to enabling the tools to ground this vision in reality, right now.