Consumer-friendly blockchain platform NEAR Protocol unveiled a key partnership today that it said will make it easier to build fast, decentralized apps offering predictable transaction fees.
In a June 9 release, Ethereum-competitor NEAR announced that Bison Trails has agreed to support its smart contract platform, which aims to ensure that any type of data—such as a digital currency, in-game item or stock certificate—can be made into a portable, programmable, and tradable digital asset.
NEAR has said its technology will allow developers to write, test, and deploy their DApps in a matter of minutes. With blockchain infrastructure-as-a-service provider Bison Trail’s support, NEAR will find it easier to attract validators to run its nodes.
While NEAR does share common goals with Ethereum, Bison Trails CEO Joe Lallouz told Modern Consensus in an email that it is more focused on usability and ensuring consumer DApps continue to perform strongly when they are scaled up with a large number of transactions.
Authority to scale
NEAR’s scalability is based on its proof-of-authority, or PoA, platform—a type of sharded proof-of-stake blockchain in which validators are staking reputation rather than an amount of cryptocurrency. Sharding a PoS network means each node does not have to validate every transaction. Rather, the workload partitioned, so any one node is only responsible for a portion of the workload—its “shard.”
PoA is designed to be faster and more scalable than PoS, making it useful for private, enterprise blockchains. It is also designed to make it easy for developers to create apps that will make users who have little to no knowledge of how blockchain works to feel comfortable with the technology.
“It’s been great working with the Bison Trails team, learning from their hands-on experience with other PoS networks to improve our own staking experience and protocol design,” NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin said. “Bison Trails has been at the forefront of what is now considered the professional validator industry, making participation in blockchain networks more accessible and helping to provide more high-quality operators to the network.”
Bison Trails has added PoA support to its core PoS business.
Taking on Ethereum
The NEAR Protocol is set to offer direct competition with Ethereum—with gaming and decentralized finance listed as just two of the industries it aims to support.
In May, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also known as a16z, led a $21.6 million funding round for NEAR.
Lallouz told Modern Consensus in an email that his “protocol-agnostic” company supports both projects and believes they can co-exist.
However, he added that NEAR’s model could help developers build apps that can easily be adopted by the public at large. Users can be onboarded without requiring a crypto wallet or having to interact with tokens. “Single Sign On” is also supported, meaning a new user can create an account by linking it to their existing Facebook, Google, or GitHub profile.
A portion of transaction fees are allocated to ensure that developers can hide the cost of infrastructure and prepay for completing transactions for new users, eliminating another source of friction. Finally, Lallouz said NEAR Protocol transactions are “priced simply and predictably in order to avoid the hassle of unpredictable transaction fees”—an issue that has plagued both Bitcoin and Ethereum in the past.
A restricted NEAR mainnet is scheduled to go live this summer, as a step towards a truly community-governed platform. Bison Trails is a founding member of the NEAR Validator Advisory Board.