Hello, NEAR world. The global Web3 community rolled into France on April 12-14 for the Paris Blockchain Week Summit. Several key NEAR figures were there to take attendees on a tour of the major happenings in NEAR’s thriving ecosystem.
PBWS is the flagship event of Paris Blockchain Week. Over two days, more than 3,000 attendees, 70 sponsors, 250 speakers, and 100 media partners hosted sessions on Web3 innovation, governance, international regulatory cooperation, and more.
NEAR Foundation hosted a number of talks at PBWS from ecosystem figures, as well as a meetup with partner Atka. These events showcased NEAR’s simple, secure and scalable protocol, and its vibrant ecosystem of developers building decentralized apps.
If you weren’t able to make it IRL, worry not. We’ve got highlights from NEAR at PBWS.
April 12 — NEAR-Atka Meetup, Keynotes and ‘Building on NEAR’ Panel
Day 1 of PBWS began in the evening with the NEAR-Atka meetup at Palais Brongniart. Attendees mingled and networked over champagne and food.
NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament kicked the Keynotes event off with opening remarks and an introduction of the NEAR ecosystem. Florian Le Goff, Founder of Synaps, followed Marieke with a talk on Amina, a newly-launched decentralized identity platform, built on NEAR. NEAR Co-founder Illia Polosukhin then updated the audience on NEAR infrastructure and what’s next, including details on protocol security and enterprise solutions.
Following Polosukhin’s talk, Anton Vaisburd, general manager of NEAR’s Regional Hub in Ukraine took to the stage. The Ukraine Regional Hub is part of NEAR Foundation’s mission to create a network of thriving regional hubs. These NEAR hubs are places for community members to meet up, learn, and create. The Ukraine hub is a resource for efforts like Unchain Fund, a charity project that has raised nearly $10 million for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Day 1 wrapped up with the 90-minute panel “Building on NEAR”. Moderated by Atka’s William Piquard, the panel featured Didier Pironi (Ref Finance), Anton Paisov (Aurora), Jon Werthen (ARterra Labs), Jasper De Gooijer (Flux Protocol), and Nadim Kobeissi (Capsule Social). “Building on NEAR” focused on developing decentralized apps on the NEAR protocol.
Notably, Werthen shared his thoughts on esports on the blockchain. He said it’s imperative to make “Web3 [esports] applications feel like something people are already used to in Web2” apps.
April 13 – NEAR Keynote
On Day 2, NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament gave a keynote address on the Paris Blockchain Week Summit Discovery Stage. She talked about access, movement, and the diversity of distinct apps and economies set to emerge in the near future.
“What is NEAR? A world where people control their assets, data, and power of governance,” said Flament. “An open web world.”
Flament then highlighted NEAR’s simple, infinitely scalable (thanks to Nightshade sharding), and secure next generation platform for dapps—one that is climate neutral.
On NEAR there is more open access—the individual is empowered while gatekeepers are eliminated. Flament pointed to YouMinter, a decentralized social media app for iOS and Android, where creators can mint and post NFTs. Think of it as an alternative to Instagram, where creators can easily sell their work, instead of handing over data to centralized platforms for free.
Flament pointed to NEAR Foundation’s partnerships with SailGP and OrangeDAO as proof that DAOs are helping to power new economies through community-based decision-making. She also shared special news from the NEAR Ecosystem. London-based tech company Sweatcoin partnered with NEAR Foundation to create a new movement economy. Sweatcoin is on a mission to inspire a healthier planet by incentivizing people to move more. The NEAR-Sweatcoin partnership brings with it SWEAT, a radical new token that is minted purely by steps.
“One of NEAR’s core missions is to help onboard the world to Web3, collaborating with SweatCoin allows us to take a step closer to that mission.” said Flament.
Flament was joined on stage by Sweatcoin co-founder Oleg Fomenko, who shared his vision for a world where people have better control of their data, but can also be rewarded for taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
April 14 – Interactive Roundtable
On the final day of Paris Blockchain Week Summit, Flament led the “Interactive Roundtable: Pioneering the Future of DAOs”. Panelists included NEAR Co-founder Polosukhin, SailGP’s Charlie Dewhurst and Paraswap’s Founder, Mounir Benchelemb.
Polosukhin is well-known for his love of DAOs. He said that a DAO is essentially an experiment with something, often real world problems, between a community and a company. With the DAO behind Unchain Fund, of which Polosukhin is a member, that meant getting funds and resources to Ukrainians who needed it.
“In our case, time was of the essence,” said Polosukhin. “You can start a DAO in 5 minutes whereas starting a nonprofit would be more like 5 months or even 5 years.”
“We are building NEAR to lower the barrier to entry for mainstream users,” he said. “Right now, DAOs are beyond regulation territory but we live in the physical world and understand how these new organizations will map. We need to figure out how DAOs can interact with the traditional world. Also, security and making users feel safe using this technology.”
Dewhurst’s appearance came hot on the heels of NEAR Foundation’s partnership with SailGP, which will include the sale of a new sailing team to a NEAR-based DAO. This could revolutionize team ownership but also fan access to and interaction with teams and athletes.
“A new generation of fans recognize how much of a role they have in shaping a brand or a product,” said Dewhurst. “It’s a lot less top down. Influencers are this whole new category and they’re engaging directly. There is a lot less distance between a brand and its users or customers. That’s also central to Web3 and has been since the beginning.”
Paraswap’s Benchelemb emphasized that DAOs offer individual members a way to contribute through a crypto bank account, established processes, tooling for offline groups to increase online capabilities, and more. “[DAOs] give more people a voice without limitations like background, jurisdiction, social ties, level of access,” he said.
As Benchelemb sees it, the major challenge facing mainstream adoption is the complexity of DAO tooling for non-crypto natives. One solution he offered is simplifying onboarding.