Top projects on NEAR blockchain

Igor Stadnyk
9 min readMay 19, 2022
INC4

Due to the blockchain’s high transaction speeds, low gas fees, and scalability, many startups are developing their dApps on the NEAR platform. NEAR overcomes the communication cost and transaction latency with a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism and provides projects and developers with a wider spectrum to securely build and launch their decentralized applications (dApps).

NEAR has a dynamic ecosystem with many tools and features, and in this article, we are going to explain what makes NEAR Protocol one of the fastest growing in terms of liquidity and dApp development. We’ll also describe the top NFT, DEX, and Yield Farming projects you should pay attention to.

Why NEAR is a great blockchain for deploying dApps

NEAR Protocol is a layer one proof of stake blockchain launched in 2020 as a decentralized cloud infrastructure for hosting decentralized applications. To achieve scalability, NEAR uses a sharding technology called Nightshade, for cross-chain communication — Rainbow Bridge, as well as a second layer solution called Aurora for deploying EVM-compatible Dapps.

NEAR is the native NEAR Protocol token. It is used to pay fees for transactions and data storage. NEAR token holders can also use them to vote on governance proposals or receive rewards for staking coins (in stNEAR tokens). With interesting projects such as Meta Yield, users can utilize their stNEAR to help fund projects in the NEAR ecosystem, receiving new project tokens at seed price in return!

Let’s take a closer look at the NEAR features that make it an attractive space for building dApps and other Decentralized Finance (DeFi) solutions.

Rainbow bridge

Rainbow Bridge allows users to freely move assets between the NEAR and Ethereum blockchains using any ERC-20 token. With NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge, users are able to transfer their ETH assets to and from NEAR as needed to take advantage of the blockchain’s low transaction fees of just $0.01, two second completion, and scalability, creating more opportunities for decentralized application integration.

Aurora

Aurora is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) implemented as a smart contract on NEAR Protocol. It helps to scale the Ethereum ecosystem for developers to operate their apps on an Ethereum-compatible, high-throughput, scalable, and future-safe platform — with low transaction costs for their users. In addition, Aurora Bridge facilitates the trustless transfer of ETH and ERC-20 tokens between Ethereum and Aurora.

Liquidity growth on NEAR

Before talking about the growth of liquidity on NEAR protocol, let us briefly recall what liquidity means for the DeFi ecosystem.

Liquidity in DeFi is usually expressed in terms of “total value locked” (TVL), which measures how much cryptocurrency is entrusted to protocols. As of May 2022, TVL in all of DeFi was $195 billion, according to DeFi Llama.

Cryptocurrency is needed for economic activity in DeFi, and it needs to be provided and stored in some way. Actions in DeFi, such as lending, borrowing, or exchanging tokens, are fully regulated by smart contracts. Users of DeFi protocols “lock” crypto assets in these contracts — liquidity pools — for others to use. They are self-executing according to a given algorithm and don’t need intermediaries.

Liquidity on NEAR

TVL also helps capture the rapid growth of DeFi on particular blockchains and how quickly liquidity is growing. On NEAR protocol, TVL funds raised in less than a year come to $573M. In addition, about $100 million has been raised since the beginning of May 2022 alone, which indicates wide adoption of the protocol among developers, which the ever-increasing number of new dApps deployed on the NEAR blockchain attests to.

Near liquidity

Top projects building on NEAR to look out for

As we stated above, NEAR protocol is proving a great launchpad for new dApps. Here are some of the top NFT, DEX, DAO, Lending protocols, Liquid staking, and Yield Aggregator projects which are hitting the market.

NEAR NFT projects

Mintbase

Mintbase

Mintbase is an NFT marketplace that allows anyone to create an NFT without any technical difficulties, works with the NEAR cryptocurrency, and provides auction and instant purchase options. As stated in the project’s official LinkedIn account, Mintbase is the Shopify for the new virtual economy. Artists can create NFTs to sell digital art, musicians can use them for music, and event organizers can use them to sell tickets to their next event.

In April 2022, Mintbase raised $7.5 million in funding backed by Coinbase Ventures, Libertus Capital, Sino Global Capital, Animoca Brands, Woodstock Fund, Fundamental Labs, and others. In addition, The NEAR Foundation provided $5 million NEAR to Mintbase Grants to help build out the NFT economy using the Mintbase developer infrastructure. The capital will enable the startup to give out grants to NFT projects and scale the project’s operations.

Paras

Paras

Paras is a digital art card marketplace built on the NEAR protocol. The protocol differs from other marketplaces in that it exclusively offers collections and not individual releases. Paras draws inspiration from real-world trading cards, and its NFTs are similar to the sports card collections of other popular franchise trading cards such as Pokemon.

Paras, unlike other marketplaces that allow users to download almost anything, takes a much more thorough approach to NFTs. To create on Paras, artists must apply, and only 30 artists are approved each week.

Decentralized Exchanges

Ref Finance

Ref Finance

Ref Finance is a community-led, multi-purpose Decentralized Finance (DeFi) platform built on NEAR Protocol. Ref combines several core components: a decentralized exchange, lending, a synthetic asset issuer, and more.

Ref takes full advantage of NEAR’s low fees ($0.005 per swap), one-to-two second finality, and WebAssembly-based runtime to rival even CEX costs and speeds, becoming a powerful addition to the increasingly multi-chain DeFi ecosystem.

Using the recently launched Rainbow Bridge, traders can utilize the billions of dollars in ERC-20-compliant assets from Ethereum, and eventually, from any chain on NEAR.

Ref Finance is similar to Uniswap, with a few changes:

  • Multiple pools in a single contract. Traders can trade across pools atomically in a single transaction.
  • Customizable LP fees per pool. LPs can charge higher fees for illiquid or highly volatile tokens. Referral fees for swaps, currently set at 1 bps.
  • Developers can earn rewards for building UIs and other applications on top of Ref Finance.

Jumbo Exchange

Jumbo

Jumbo is designed to be the most user-friendly exchange, setting out to eliminate the common struggles people experience when navigating decentralized exchanges. It was specifically created to serve one purpose — create an unobtrusive and fun experience when trading/swapping and staking your digital assets.

Thanks to various aspects of NEAR Blockchain and proprietary algorithms, Jumbo works seamlessly, meaning each interaction with the exchange is supplemented with immediate visual feedback and appropriate instructions.

Tonic DEX

Tonic DEX

Tonic is a high-performance, fully decentralized trading platform that brings the speed and convenience of centralized exchanges to NEAR while being fully decentralized.

Tonic DEX users are able to buy and sell any NEAR token with low fees, deep liquidity, and precise pricing, secured by the NEAR protocol.

DAO

Decentral bank

Decentral Bank

Decentral Bank is the DAO that is developing and supporting NEAR-native stablecoins, the first of which is $USN. $USN is soft-pegged to the US Dollar, overcollateralized by a Reserve Fund that contains $NEAR, as well as $USDT initially.

Decentral Bank DAO manages the smart contracts of $USN and its Reserve Fund. One of the functions behind the DAO is the governance over the $NEAR part of the Reserve Fund. The DAO can vote to stake the $NEAR from the Reserve Fund and distribute the staking rewards to the users of protocols that integrate $USN.

Liquid staking

Meta Pool

Meta Pool

Meta Pool is the liquid staking solution for NEAR and wNEAR token holders. Users staking NEAR and wNEAR with Meta Pool receive in exchange a NEP-141 standard token, stNEAR (staked NEAR). The stNEAR token simultaneously accrues staking rewards and unlocks users’ liquidity, enabling them to participate in DeFi activities (e.g. lending, farming, borrowing) on NEAR and Aurora.

Lending Protocol

Burrow

Burrow

Burrow is a decentralized, non-custodial pool-based interest rates platform that enables users to supply assets to earn interest and borrow against them to unlock liquidity.

Burrow aims to unlock liquidity for interest-bearing assets, particularly layer 1 staking derivatives such as stNEAR and stETH. Burrow users are able to deposit stNEAR as collateral, then borrow more NEAR to create a leveraged staking position, or borrow a stablecoin to create a self-repaying position.

Yield farm

Cheddar Farm

Cheddar Farm

Cheddar Farm is building a loyalty network within the NEAR ecosystem through strategic partnerships that promote the use of NEAR while rewarding users. Cheddar provides long-term benefits to its HODLers via PowerUps, cross-dApp integration, and use throughout the NEARverse.

A loyalty network promotes a product or service (NEAR dApps) by providing value to its partners and users. The Cheddar loyalty network is fueled and powered by the Cheddar token.

Yield aggregator

PembRock Finance

Pembrock

PembRock Finance is the first leveraged yield farming project on NEAR. Founded by NEAR guild masters with the participation of our INC4 expert team, PembRock will provide new tools to reach a wider usership, attracting more investment and expanding the NEAR ecosystem. What’s more, it also secured a $75,000 grant from the NEAR Foundation to spur development.

Lenders earn passive income by depositing their crypto into PembRock’s vaults which fund liquidity pools. Yield farmers can maximize their profits by opening a leveraged position.

Being only on the initial launch path, the protocol starts with two base assets — NEAR and USDT. In the future, assets will be added as the platform grows, and users will be invited to participate in governance through the staking of native PEM tokens.

On May 11 PembRock Finance launched a fundraising campaign on the Meta Yield Platform — a crowdfunding platform built on the NEAR blockchain that provides exposure and access to different projects — enabling the community to financially support projects built on NEAR protocol. Join crowdfunding if you want to be one of the early adopters to receive $PEM tokens!

Build with INC4

Projects like PembRock are a great example of how INC4 can leverage the benefits of the NEAR ecosystem to build financial tools of any complexity. With experience in project development as a NEAR Guild, the INC4 team can easily help startups and businesses launch user-friendly dApps powered by the scalability and speed of the NEAR blockchain. In addition, our blockchain development services on any other blockchain range from DeFi to Web3 and NFTs. Please contact our experienced specialists with your unique requirements — we even do blockchain consulting and can build you a new project from scratch.

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Igor Stadnyk

Founder and CEO of INC4, I help fintech firms create blockchain and cryptocurrency solutions.