Highlights from NEAR at DevConnect Amsterdam
On April 21st, Web3 developers, venture capitalists, and other blockchain professionals descended on Amsterdam for Devconnect. NEAR, in partnership with Zaisan.io, programmed a full day of in-depth NEAR Protocol sessions at Boom Chicago, a short walk from Devconnect’s BVB venue.
NEAR @ Devconnect featured an array of talks, workshops, panels, and other events from ecosystem partners and developers. The projects Flux, Aurora, Roketo, Near Pay, and Zaisan presented during Devconnect.
Couldn’t make it to NEAR @ Devconnect? Let’s take a look at the highlights.
What is the NEAR Foundation’s vision?
NEAR @ Devconnect kicked off at Boom Chicago with a breakfast reception, followed by a keynote from NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament. She highlighted NEAR protocol’s simplicity, scalability, and security, while emphasizing its sustainability and carbon neutral status.
Flament outlined NEAR Foundation’s strategy of raising awareness of the NEAR protocol, ecosystem, and its partners. She also briefly touched on recent announcements of partnerships, like SailGP, which will sell a sailing team to a DAO.
Flament highlighted NEAR Co-founder Illia Polosukhin’s involvement with Unchain DAO, the decentralized autonomous organization behind Unchain Fund. Built using Astro DAO, Unchain Fund is a multi-chain effort that has raised over $10 million in funds for people impacted by the war in Ukraine.
Watch Marieke Flament’s NEAR introduction in the YouTube video, starting at 1:26:00.
Evolution of NEAR infrastructure with Illia Polosukhin
Following Flament’s talk, Polosukhin took the stage to talk NEAR Protocol’s infrastructure. He briefly touched on why he and Co-founder Alex Skidanov decided to solve common blockchain problems, like scaling and user experience issues, before turning his attention to NEAR’s Nighthshade sharding approach.
Polosukhin walked Devconnect attendees through NEAR’s protocol upgrades. He started with the October 2020 launch, in which there was only one shard. Polosukhin then brought the crowd up to speed on NEAR’s Simple Nightshade launch. This protocol upgrade introduced 4 partitioned shards, and did so without any negative impact on developer applications and smart contracts.
Next, Polosukhin teased the upcoming release of Nighthshade’s chunk-only producers. With this next upgrade, Phase 1, capacity can be automatically scaled as needed. However, the NEAR Protocol’s core developer team is still researching the optimization of consensus, how to implement zero knowledge proofs, and much more. Polosukin noted how the Nightshade roadmap is openly available to all users, in stark contracts to many other blockchains.
Polushkin then briefly sketched out Pagoda, a Web3 startup platform, and Aurora, an Ethereum Virtual Machine built on NEAR. He also highlighted Octopus Network, a simple plugin to enhance interoperability using on-chain governance; and Rainbow Bridge, a permissionless protocol between NEAR and Ethereum. These are four of the many apps helping to make NEAR a vital part of the multi-chain, Open Web future.
NEAR University with Sherif Abushadi and Shashi Shekhar
After a lunch break, the NEAR @ Devconnect crowd returned for afternoon sessions. These sessions kicked off with NEAR Education’s Sherif Abushadi and Shashi Shekar detailing the efforts of NEAR University’s education program.
In an interactive discussion, Abushadi and Shekar talked about developer learning and other NEAR Education programs. The second half of the session dealt with professional education for entrepreneurs on implementing NEAR-based solutions.
Talks from NEAR app developers and ecosystem partners
Featured talks from Aurora, Flux, Near Pay, Roketo, and Zaison rounded out the day of NEAR @ Devconnect. After a brief tea break, Anton Paisov introduced the crowd to Aurora, an Ethereum Virtual Machine built atop NEAR. Fully compatible with Ethereum RPCs, Paisov noted that Aurora supports all Ethereum tools like Metamask, Truffle, Hardhat, and more.
Next, Flux’s Jasper de Gooijer gave an inspiring talk about NEAR’s support for the development of Flux’s oracle services. De Gooijer explained that Flux is building a prediction market protocol on NEAR, and that the oracle is a data bridge between the real world and blockchains.
Near Pay COO Ivan Illin then talked about how Near Pay is addressing the difficulty of using crypto to pay for real life stuff. Ultimately, it’s still necessary to do this using Fiat currency through bank accounts and credit cards — products that are usually slow and costly. Illin explained how Near Pay is resolving this issue with the first ever crypto debit card.
David Virabian and Olga Isaeva then took the stage to talk about Roketo’s solution for finance streaming. They asked the crowd to envision getting paid in real time for the work they’re doing, without delay.
With Roketo, work payments wouldn’t be deposited every two weeks, nor every month, but instantly.
NEAR @ Devconnect’s final talk belonged to Rhett Oudkerk Pool, CEO of Zaisan, a blockchain system integrator and application builder. Pool spoke about Zaisan’s self sovereign identity application MyD for NEAR. With this app, users can store their credentials and attestations diplomas or licenses in an NFT viewer. This can be used by owners to disclose their information without sharing it.
Following the talks, NEAR @ Devconnect wrapped up with drinks and a social gathering at Boom Chicago. All in all, it was an exciting day of Open Web talks from some of the most promising developers from the NEAR ecosystem.