NEAR in April: Sweatcoin, Kenya Regional Hub, and More – NEAR Protocol

NEAR in April: Sweatcoin, Kenya Regional Hub, and More

April 28, 2022

Spring is in swing, and things haven’t slowed down a bit for the NEAR ecosystem and community. In April, NEAR cemented exciting new partnerships, expanded its global footprint, and introduced dramatic new platform enhancements.

NEAR Foundation’s partnership with Sweatcoin and the NEAR Regional Hub launch in Kenya are two such developments. April was also a month full of blockchain events, with NEAR appearing at Paris Blockchain Week Summit and DevConnect.

From meeting new friends to enabling tomorrow’s movement economy, here’s everything you need to know about NEAR in April.

Sweatcoin builds the Movement Economy on NEAR

During the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, NEAR announced a partnership with Sweatcoin, the London-based move-to-earn project for incentivizing healthier living. The Sweatcoin app’s native SWEAT token and infrastructure will be built atop NEAR’s rapid, secure, and infinitely scalable blockchain.

Sweatcoin signals a radical shift in the incentivization of health and fitness, rewarding users for moving with the SWEAT token. These tokens can then be redeemed, spent, or traded in a new Open Movement Economy enabled by the NEAR blockchain.

“The inherent issue with traditional cryptocurrency is that you have to use your own money,” says Oleg Fomenko, Co-founder of Sweatcoin. “While SWEAT will be available to purchase, the key difference is that for everyday users, you invest your steps, which we hope is going to encourage people around the world to want to be more active. 

As the project matures and becomes more integrated with wearables, users will be able to earn SWEAT via a wider variety of activities like hiking, rowing, and cycling. Tokens can then be sold and traded like any other digital crypto asset or used to purchase goods and services on the Sweatcoin app marketplace from one of over 300 brand partners like Reebok and Sonos.

Helping onboard the world to Web3 is one of NEAR’s core mission objectives. Collaborating with Sweatcoin is a substantial step in that direction, making NEAR a key part of tomorrow’s move-to-earn economy.

NEAR at Paris Blockchain Week Summit

The Sweatcoin partnership announcement was just the tip of the iceberg for NEAR at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit. From April 12-14, the NEAR Foundation participated in a number of talks on blockchain innovation, dapp development, and DAO governance.

The NEAR-Atka Meetup kicked things off at the historical Palais Brongniart stock exchange building. Attendees mingled over food and champagne as NEAR figures took the stage. 

NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament started the keynotes with opening remarks and an introduction to the NEAR ecosystem. Illia Polosukhin, Co-founder of NEAR, then updated the audience on NEAR infrastructure and developments, including protocol security and enterprise solutions. Attendees also received a progress report from Anton Vaisburd, general manager of NEAR’s Ukraine Regional Hub. The day concluded with the 90-minute “Building on NEAR” panel, featuring tips and insights from developers of key ecosystem projects.

At the Discovery Stage on Day 2, Flament gave a keynote on the diversity of apps and economies set to emerge in the future. She pointed to YouMinter, SailGP, and Sweatcoin as examples of apps and partnerships that are helping to build the Open Web on NEAR.

PBWS wrapped up on April 14th with Flament leading the “Interactive Roundtable: Pioneering the Future of DAOs.” Panelists included NEAR Co-founder Polosukhin, SailGP’s Charlie Dewhurst, and Paraswap founder Mounir Benchelemb. 

Polosukhin advocated for DAOs’ potential to help solve difficult challenges quickly in ways that traditional non-profits or corporations cannot. Dewhurst noted that DAOs like SailGP can bring competitors closer to fans and encourage collaborative team and sports brand building with audiences. Benchelemb added that while DAOs empower individuals regardless of background, simplified onboarding is critical for mass adoption in the future.

Click here for full highlights of NEAR @ PBWS 2022.

NEAR in the News

Recently, NEAR made news with Flament discussing the environmental impact of crypto and the protocol’s carbon neutrality in an article published on Verdict. She referenced Sweatcoin as a way that the NEAR Foundation is encouraging greener lifestyles across the planet. Flament said a key goalsof the partnership is to make physical activity part of the global GDP, leading to a more sustainable global economy.

NEAR also popped up in a BNN Bloomberg article about the state of Fintech post-Brexit. Flament noted that while Fintech has improved financial services in certain respects, it hasn’t been truly disruptive and the space has become crowded. Blockchain and the Open Web will be the catalyst for developers to inject adrenaline and meaningful disruption into fintech and payments, she said.

NEAR checked in ahead of April’s IFGS conference, with Flament speaking to Finextra about Web3’s transformative potential on financial services. While blockchain will decentralize finance and offer new modalities of transacting value, she said nurturing new talent will be a key challenge to overcome. It’s why NEAR recently partnered with OrangeDAO, a crypto group created by Y Combinator alums, which is backing Web startups and talent.

Next, Flament penned an op-ed for UK Tech titled “Web3 and the race for talent: why diversity is critical to success.” Her thoughts ranged from how diversity can be hard-coded into Web3 and how education to enhance blockchain’s inclusivity.

Flament also represented NEAR as a panelist for Financial Times’ FT Live online event on April 27th. The panel discussion went on a deep dive into the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues facing crypto. The conversation centered on whether more investor scrutiny is needed to make digital assets more sustainable. The panelists also talked about lowering the blockchain’s carbon footprint and preventing illicit activities like money laundering using cryptocurrencies. 

Education and networking at DevConnect Amsterdam

NEAR @ DevConnect took place on April 21st at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, with a full day of in-depth sessions. The event gave attendees an opportunity to connect with fellow developers, community members, and ecosystem partners. 

DevConnect also provided developers space and resources for onboarding to NEAR and Aurora, as well as information on how projects and developers can potentially apply for and receive funding via the NEAR Foundation Grants program

Core topics at DevConnect included NEAR’s vision and roadmap for 2022, and technical overviews of Aurora and NearPay, a new crypto debit card. Speakers included CEO Marieke Flament, NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin, and Flux CTO Jasper De Gooijer, and COO of NearPay Illin. 

As always, anyone who couldn’t attend in person at Boom Chicago was able to stream DevConnect on NEARVERSE. DevConnect Amsterdam was a huge success and NEAR looks forward to subsequent events in 2022. 

Sankore and NEAR launch the Kenya Regional Hub

April also saw the NEAR Foundation announce the launch of the Kenya Regional Hub. A partnership with Sankore, NEAR Guild based in Kenya, the hub will accelerate blockchain innovation, education, and talent development across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The hub will be led by Sankore founder Kevin Imani and his core team. They plan to organize events, launch an incubator, and incorporate NEAR into Sankore’s existing bounty system. Imani’s vision is to use blockchain to help solve some of Africa’s biggest challenges. He believes that partnering with NEAR for the Regional Hub will help nurture the talent to do just that.

“We are excited by the potential avenues throughout Africa for blockchain solutions,” says Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation. “This hub represents a unique opportunity to partner with local talent not only for the opportunities that we know exist today but also for the opportunities yet to be created in the future.”

Given Sankore’s success incubating blockchain projects, it won’t take long for NEAR’s Kenya Regional to gain traction. The NEAR Foundation is thrilled to offer the hub the resources to create a prosperous, open digital future.

ICYMI: The Merging of Music and the Blockchain 

The NEAR Foundation also published 4-part series “Music in the Blockchain Era” in April. It explored the radical shift taking place in blockchain-enabled music, including new royalty models, DAO record labels, and more.

To facilitate a more free and fair Open Web, NEAR Foundation will support new pathways and technologies for musical creativity. The foundation will also help build stronger communities for fans and artists alike. 

Want to learn more about how blockchain is changing the way we create, consume, and interact with music and musicians? Check out the “Music in the Blockchain Era” series below:

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