Scaling Mintbase with NEAR

Nate Geier
Mintbase
Published in
6 min readAug 27, 2020

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Why Do We Need Ethereum Alternatives?

Our users come to Mintbase and deploy their own store, which is a verified smart contract contract, and mint NFTs on this contract. Each NFT (non-fungible token) consists of multiple assets uploaded to The Arweave Project (music, art, tickets, legal…) bound to the NFT for auth/access.

How Mintbase works

It used to cost around $2 at 2 gwei to deploy a store, now we’ve seen it at over +350 gwei $250 and it costs me about $50 to mint 5 NFTs. We want to sell stadium tickets as NFTs one day and this would not work for us. Even if the gas fee went back down to 2 gwei tomorrow, dapp developers will still be under constant fear that this could happen again. If an Ethereum project isn’t looking at alternatives now, they have their head in the sand.

Overview

Sharding is the decentralized future we want to live in to handle state bloat over Solana’s need to run heavy equipment. We believe every person should be able to access affordable hardware to help validate the network. Solana is great for high throughput DEX’s, but bridges can help that both exist just fine. We believe many chains will exist with many bridges. It’s too early for ‘roll your own chain’, it takes too much energy to add validators. Same goes for ‘rolling your own security’ like on Cosmos.

I’m tired of solidity, rust has been a pretty refreshing transition and is insanely good about memory and types ❤️, potentially the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) might not be as attractive to new developers in the future. Sometimes it’s easiest to just start over fresh rather than duck taping solutions.

Disclaimer

Mintbase doesn’t know everything and this is our personal opinion. We could be wrong. We are a small team that doesn't have the luxury to give each project the time they deserve to really deep dive into nuances, but wanted to list our quick reasons as we are getting asked several times a day.

I’m not writing the sharding algorithms, that’s over my head and a really hard problem to solve, that said, I’m just putting my faith in the NEAR team to execute on that side 😅💪🏼.

Other Options

Mintbase plans on adding multiple chains in the future, so here are some reasons why we did not choose these chains first (might come later).

  • xDai is not decentralized enough (EOS even wins at this here). 12 handpicked validators, and only 4 known validators sign a multisig for the bridges, so 3/4 signers can withdraw all the DAI from xDai to mainnet from our understanding and some folks on POA (same family as xDai) are already hitting transaction bottlenecks. More reasons, but we want to keep this high level. Great for POC’s and with a value of less than $500, would never trust my 401K on it.
  • Matic has the same on-boarding struggles for my customers as just using NEAR: 1. Get a new token 2. Use a wallet that enables RPC switching 3. Teach user to switch RPC. I don’t want to use another third party like biconomy to run meta transactions, NEAR has meta transactions and account seeding baked into the system. With the rollout of the trustless NEAR ≤> Rainbow Bridge, the reasons for not switching to NEAR get even smaller. People say Matic is enhancing Ethereum, but its end goal is the same as any other L1: Become the dominate chain.
  • Flow: Risks cornering themselves into gaming and NFTs only, we want to interact with all platforms (DeFi, gaming, DEX’s). I don’t want to learn their own invented programming language. TBH we haven't dove too much into it. makoto_inoue did this writeup though.
  • Rollups: We don’t have high enough transaction throughput to make this economical.
  • Polkadot: Would be our first pick if we thought ‘roll your own chain’ was the best idea.
  • Cosmos: I don’t want to learn the programming language Go, ‘roll your own security’ seems like a nightmare.
  • Ethereum 2.0: Funding will run out some day, is the EF going to just keep updating it forever post ETH2? Also still might be over 2 years away. Teams seem overworked and underpaid. Could be wrong, just the impression I get from watching conferences and talking to developers.
  • Ethereum 1: State bloat is still a thing, one day people won’t be able to sync a node on any machines. Should we all have a copy of the internet on our computers? There was lots of discussion on ETH 1x, but seems to have died down, curious to hear more on this.
  • Elrond: Seems like the fundamentals are close to NEAR, but they need more launch partners.
  • EOS/WAX: The foundation of 21 block producers lends itself to mafia mentality, I don’t want to learn c++, not much developer interest to build infrastructure, even the EOS founders: block.one built their voice app on a side chain.
  • TRON: Nope.
NEAR Launching Partners

NEAR Bonuses

  • NEAR has human readable addresses for both for accounts and contracts so mintbase.near, my-contract.mintbase.near, and bob.mintbase.near. No need for Etheopian DNS work around (.eth).
  • Seeding accounts on creation
  • Meta transactions baked into the protocol for easy on-boarding
  • Rust (is amazing) or AssemblyScript for contracts
  • Dynamic Re-sharding (Facebook and any major high traffic site uses this)
  • POS
  • Protocol level roylaties (contract owners can receive transaction fees)
  • Super cheap, they say 10,000–100,000X cheaper than Ethereum
  • Fast (Haven’t deployed on mainnet yet so no stats on this yet, but hear it’s launching with 200TPS)
  • Strong launch partners
  • Helpful team
  • Trustless ETH <=> NEAR Rainbow Bridge live now
  • On-boarding took me an hour to deploy a test contract
  • Protocol upgradable without hardfork, governance baked into the system
  • EVM support soon
  • Freshly funded team $21M VC+ $30M ICO
  • Nice etherscan-like block explorer

NEAR Cons

  • No indexers, I miss TheGraph terribly, but they are on the launch list so expecting something by late 2020
  • It’s centralized now, but has the proper foundation to be most decentralized, Illia Polosukhin says:

Hopefully the centralized part is address in next two weeks — we have first validators already running nodes on MainNet.

  • Shards have not been scaled/proven on mainnet yet, so 😅
  • It’s a VC chain, but the end goal is to get off the messy legacy tech of the current financial system
  • With cheaper transaction cost, does this mean spamming will be an issue?

Spamming is indeed a possible issue, the mechanics of adjusting gas price based on usage is the same as EIP-1559 so will address this by predictably increasing gas prices. And in epoch time frame it will be dynamic resharding to move out offending contracts / accounts and also increasing overall capacity.

Illia Polosukhin

Nate’s Background

I’ve always been one to sniff out the new tech as an efficiency crazy person. I launched a Wyndham Worldwide production application when NodeJS was in it’s 0.0.6 version (~2012), wrote my first SAS company when Angular was just a murmur, and pushed the team at NikeiD to overhaul its million dollar a day application from jQuery to React+Redux when React was still in beta. Lastly, I joined the Ethereum fight when it was at $1.14/ETH so deeply respect the community and pioneering technology.

I’ve always been a believer in the nuke option/start fresh for massive enterprise production applications. Some like to take the bandaid off slow and that’s fine, that’s just not me. Ethereum has a future with us, we just need something that works today.

Timeline

Our goal is to have the new Mintbase Store contract factory to Quantstamp for audits by late September and aiming for mid to late October 2020 for the first NEAR interface interaction. Wish us luck!

Thanks!

Nate Geier

Founder/dev of Mintbase

https://twitter.com/nategeier

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