The NEAR community was busy connecting at the Consensus conference this weekend in Austin, Texas. The NEAR Foundation made its presence felt in a variety of ways, from hosting educational developer workshops to panel discussions and speeches from key members of the ecosystem and Foundation.
From NEAR’s roadmap to raising crypto funds for Ukraine, here are the main takeaways from Consensus, Austin.
Major Dev Experience Announcements
NEAR Foundation’s presence at Consensus 2022 kicked off with opening remarks by CEO Marieke Flemant on the Foundations Stage. Flemant highlighted the NEAR Foundation’s continued commitment to sustainability and ecosystem growth before turning things over to NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin, who presented a roadmap for the NEAR Protocol over the next 12 months along with some exciting news for developers.
The Web3 World According to NEAR
On the second day of Consensus, Flament gave a speech on the Feature Stage speech entitled “The Web3 World According to NEAR.” Building upon her opening remarks on day one, she painted a clearer picture of how Web3 and NEAR will evolve in the upcoming years and why she still believes that crypto can fulfill the promise of re-defining money and creating a more inclusive world.
Flament also addressed current market conditions and pointed out the importance of an even deeper commitment to building during a bear market.
“We have much more talent, funding, and infrastructure than the last bear market,” Flamant observed. “While it seems that the world is filled with bad news, this is not the time for pessimism but for action. It’s urgent that we make even more progress at a faster pace than ever.”
Flament restated NEAR’s commitment to creating an open, inclusive Web3 based on the three pillars of Ownership, Community, and Incentives. Once self-sovereign individuals gain ownership and control over their data, Flament said that only then can we collectively fight exploitative behavior by Web2 giants. After the notion of ownership has been decentralized and turned on its head, Flament predicted that we can then re-think modes of incentivizing participation and building community.
And while Flament observed that some at Consensus were bearish on the “X to Earn” phenomena, in her opinion, the trend has barely scratched the surface. Sweatcoin continues to onboard users to NEAR and Web3 with their app. Not to mention SailGP and Armored Kingdom, projects and partners that are re-defining sports team ownership and entertainment with DAOs and NFTs.
She concluded by saying that NEAR is committed to providing tools to create a simple, sustainable, and scalable Web3 world.
NEAR Helping Ukrainians in Need
Co-founder Illia Polosukhin re-emerged on the second day of Consusus to participate in a panel discussion around how crypto and the blockchain is being used to aid Ukraine during the ongoing war. The discussion was moderated by Emily Parker from CoinDesk, and included Valeriya Ionan Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation as well as Mike Chobanian from the Blockchain Association of Ukraine.
Polosukhin recounted that when he heard the news about Ukraine, his first instinct was to find ways to personally donate to those affected by the conflict. He then started thinking bigger, and shortly thereafter the Unchain Fund was started on NEAR to raise funds via a DAO model. Unchain Fund raised over $10 million within the first few weeks and expanded to work with over 5,000 volunteers on the ground. Crypto has been a huge part of effective relief, said Polosukhin, as NGOs can sometimes be slow to respond immediately.
He then reminded the audience that there will be a time – hopefully soon – that the conflict comes to an end. And at that point, blockchain, crypto, and Web3 can play a crucial role in rebuilding Ukraine and even preserving cultural artifacts on the blockchain. Chobanian from the Blockchain Association of Ukraine added that they are currently in the proposal stage with NEAR to place NFT versions of important Ukrainian art and other artifacts on the blockchain in case the IRL versions are ever destroyed.
Armored Kingdom and Brave Announcements
Two of the biggest NEAR announcements that came out of Consensus were on the gaming and browser integration fronts. Firstly, Brave and NEAR will collaborate to integrate Aurora, an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) on the NEAR Protocol, into Brave Wallet. This means greater multi-chain functionality in Brave Wallet and expanded utility for the Basic Attention Token (BAT).
“This is a very significant partnership for the future advancement of Web3 and mass adoption, offering a multi-chain integration bridging the Ethereum and NEAR communities via Aurora – and one of the first big integrations via Brave,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of NEAR Foundation.
“With the new Brave Wallet there will be a host of Web3 functionality supported such as NFT and Swap – all of which will provide the protection of a privacy-preserving, in-browser wallet that’s secure and mass-market ready.”
In addition, Deadline Hollywood broke the news that superstar actress Mila Kunis has partnered with superhero creator Sharad Devarajan of Graphic India to launch Armored Kingdom Media Inc, which will be a new entertainment franchise spanning a Web3 trading card game, digital comics, animation, and film built on NEAR.
“We are excited to support the launch of Armored Kingdom and the storytelling opportunities it will bring to fans,” said Flament. “NEAR is a perfect blockchain for an entertainment franchise as it can support various platforms, which is crucial for multiverse experiences across different mediums. Our focus on ease of use also allows developers to deliver intuitive experiences for a large fan base.”