NEAR Foundation is thrilled to announce a new strategic partnership with Hibiki Run, a platform lying at the nexus of innovation in music streaming and digital collectibles. Hibiki Run is revolutionizing music discovery by melding gaming thrills with crypto-driven Listen-to-Earn (L2E) incentives.
Together, NEAR Foundation and Hibiki Run will explore innovative paths for creating engagement between Web3 content creators and end users. With the Japanese “Gachapon” vending machine capsule toys as a model, the collaboration will meld NEAR’s cutting-edge blockchain technology with Hibiki Run’s expertise in digital music, art, and exercise, new opportunities in each vertical for creation, distribution, and ownership.
Bringing a ‘Digital Gachapon’ economy to the open web
With “Digital Gachapon”, NEAR and Hibiki Run will bring a powerful economic tool to creators. When interacting with a Japanese Gachapon, layers insert coins into the machine, turn the knob, and receive a capsule with a random item.
Hibiki Run has innovatively digitized this exciting concept, integrating it with blockchain technology. In the digital Gachapon system, users utilize their tokens to receive digital items such as NFTs or unique digital assets — anything from exclusive music tracks, collectible art pieces, and rare gaming items, to access tokens for specific events or experiences.
The digital Gachapon’s strength lies in its element of surprise and the potential for rare, high-value rewards — transforming the token expenditure into an exciting event while providing a way for creators to distribute their content in a fun and engaging manner.
Hibiki Run and NEAR hope that with these types of innovative concepts, blockchain technology, and user-friendly interfaces, a new frontier of digital arts will open up. One that is interactive and immersive for creators and consumers alike. Like NEAR, Hibiki Run is committed to creating a decentralized, fair, and accessible ecosystem for artists.
As June comes to a close, summer in the NEAR ecosystem is heating up with a wave of new announcements, events, media appearances, and more. Not to mention a few notable celebrities bringing some star power into NEAR’s orbit. Here’s a rundown of all the newsworthy NEAR happenings over the past month.
Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri jump into NFTs on NEAR
In the US, Grammy-winning musician Sammy Hagar and celebrity chef Guy Fieri joined the NEAR ecosystem, teaming up with NEAR on-ramp Trident3 to launch an NFT loyalty program. The Santo Spirits Club loyalty program, as reported by Coindesk and Decrypt, will enable tequila fans to earn on-chain tiered perks and an opportunity to win a virtual tasting with the duo.
Mirae Asset, MARBLEX, and Vortex boost South Korea
Over in Asia, NEAR Foundation continued to make inroads in South Korea. Mirae Asset, a subsidiary of Asia’s largest financial group, announced a partnership to research Web3’s role in global business. Per Bloomberg, Mirae Asset will collaborate with NEAR Foundation to strengthen the Web2/3 business network and identify opportunities for real-world blockchain value creation.
Meanwhile, Blockchain Reporter broke that Marblex – a Korean blockchain infrastructure provider for high-quality gaming – will integrate NEAR protocol with Marblex’s gaming universe, enhancing user convenience and Web3 adoption. NEAR will integrate with MARBLEX’s WARP Bridge, taking advantage of NEAR’s high scalability and speed to improve the gaming experience in Web3. The partnership will also enable joint marketing initiatives and events, boosting awareness of the global blockchain gaming market.
Then there’s Vortex Gaming, a Web3 subsidiary of Inven, the largest game media community in Korea. Coverage by European Gaming reported that Vortex will leverage NEAR protocol to integrate a gaming community encompassing Web2 and Web3 by building innovative infrastructure for gaming developers. The NEAR Foundation and Inven will also collaborate on marketing and business development, adding to NEAR’s exciting Web3 gaming ecosystem.
Skoda launches metaverse for auto fans in India
Czech Automobile Manufacturer Skoda entered the Metaverse in the world’s most populous country, giving users an opportunity to explore, collect and own digital art pieces on NEAR. The platform, as reported by Cointelegraph and Entrepreneur India, will enable NFT owners to access exclusive perks and rewards, while allowing owners to trade digital artwork in the future.
SailGP christens The Dock for decentralized fandom
In more partnership news, the Global racing league SailGP and Oracle announced the launch of “The Dock”, a decentralized fan engagement platform powered by Oracle and NEAR’s ongoing partnership to bridge the worlds of Web2 and Web3. As reported by SailWeb, The Dock will revolutionize how fans follow SailGP, increasing engagement through exclusive content and enabling fans to earn points, redeemable for exciting rewards including VIP access to SailGP events and more.
Alibaba Cloud and Women in Web3 headline Collision
The NEAR ecosystem took over Toronto this month, showcasing the best of BOS at Collision 2023, one of the world’s biggest tech conferences. During the event, the NEAR Foundation announced a groundbreaking partnership with Alibaba, enabling developers across Asia to launch new NEAR validators with Alibaba Cloud’s infrastructure as a service.
The partnership was covered in myriad outlets such as Coindesk, Journal du Coin, and BTC Echo. Partnering with Alibaba means the NEAR ecosystem will have access to Remote Procedure Calls (RPC) and enable users to interact with NEAR’s Blockchain Operating System while using Alibaba Cloud’s infrastructure.
The NEAR Foundation also released the Women in Web3 Changemakers List 2023, celebrating the achievements of extraordinary women throughout the Web3 ecosystem. As reported by Tech Funding News, the ten women were selected by the public and hail from all corners of the globe, following hundreds of nominations from the Web3 community.
Leadership viewpoints on media and social fairness
Illia Polosukhin, Founder of NEAR and CEO of Pagoda, took the time to write a thought leadership piece in Blockworks about crypto’s potential to transform how we interact with the media. Illia sets out the emerging problem with the status quo: bad actors are beginning to utilize generative AI to dramatically scale up misinformation campaigns.
However, Illia explains that blockchain-based “sign-and-trace” systems can enable the public to reliably source and validate real news stories, with a legitimate trail of sources available online.
CEO of NEAR Foundation Marieke Flament also penned an article for London’s leading daily business paper CityAM about using Web3 to build a fair and inclusive digital world. “Too often technology has only benefited the few: those who have money, those who have power, or those of a certain gender, ethnicity, or skin color.
But this doesn’t need to be the case,” she explained. “Technology can and should be in the service of all people. But to achieve this, we will need a change in perspective, something that Web3 can help us achieve.”
Marieke also talked about blockchain, Web3, and BOS on a podcast hosted by the editor Journal du Coin – France’s leading crypto media outlet, and for a video interview with Fintech Finance at the Paris Fintech Forum.
That’s all for this month. If we missed anything or want to share anything for next month’s roundup, get in touch!
Škoda India, in collaboration with NEAR Protocol, announces its foray into the world of NFTs and blockchain technology with Škodaverse India. This new platform forms a part of the global Škodaverse initiative and will bring a fresh wave of digital innovation to Škoda automobile fans in India.
Škoda, one of Europe’s biggest car manufacturers headquartered in the Czech Republic, is quickly becoming one of the most forward-thinking industry brands in Web3 and the metaverse. Late last year, the company announced its global Škodaverse initiative, integrating virtual test drives and NFTs into an immersive environment.
And now the Škodaverse is coming to the Indian market, powered by the NEAR Protocol, that will enable Škoda fans to buy, trade, and engage with NFTs in Web3. It’s a crucial step in the brand’s journey towards building a tight-knit community of Škoda loyalists, offering a space for fans to connect, co-create, and establish long-term relationships with the brand.
Steering Škoda fans towards NFTs with NEAR
Mr. Christian Cahn von Seelen – Executive Director of Sales, Marketing, and Digital, Škoda at Auto Volkswagen India – expressed excitement at the unveiling of the Škodaverse India NFT platform. He envisions it as a dynamic hub for connection and creativity, exemplifying Škoda’s commitment to its customers and fans in India. The Škodaverse India will offer unique and immersive experiences to a rapidly growing market.
“Škodaverse India signifies the brand’s leap into uncharted digital territory,” said von Seelen. It’s not just about creating extraordinary digital assets, it’s about forging deep connections with a community that shares an unwavering passion for the brand and its initiatives in India. It also showcases our commitment to sustainability and innovation, through leveraging carbon-neutral blockchain technology that enables secure, transparent, and decentralized transactions.”
Škodaverse India is designing its metaverse platform to be exciting and engaging for Škoda enthusiasts of all demographics, whether they’re familiar with blockchain technology or not. Whether it’s an image, video, sound, or ticket, each NFT collection released on the Škodaverse India platform will be curated to create memorable driving experiences
The first NFT collection, honoring sustainability, will be created on NEAR Protocol. As a South Pole-certified, carbon-neutral blockchain, NEAR’s eco-first philosophy aligns seamlessly with Škoda India’s sustainability efforts.
Driving Škoda India’s Web3 Strategy into the future
As part of the brand’s intensified Web3 strategy, Škoda Auto India is collaborating with Antier, a leading blockchain consulting firm, to foster the creation and minting of innovative NFTs. Each NFT collection released on the Škodaverse India platform will be thoughtfully curated to represent memorable driving experiences.
These unique collectibles will unlock exclusive experiences, strengthening the bond between Škodaverse and its community of users. The Škodaverse India platform also ensures users stay updated with the latest in the creation and sale of NFTs. Users can sign in, create, and maintain their profiles, and monitor for updates via Škodaverse India’s Discord, Telegram, and Twitter.
With the launch of Škodaverse India, Škoda Auto India embraces blockchain technology, signaling a significant move towards Web3 applications. Powered by NEAR Protocol, Škodaverse India will offer engaging, community-building experiences, further solidifying Škoda’s position as a forward-thinking automobile brand in Web3 and the metaverse.
NEAR Foundation is excited to announce a new strategic partnership with MARBLEX, a blockchain subsidiary of Netmarble Corp, that will help expand Korea’s Web3 gaming industry. MARBLEX will build on Aurora, NEAR’s Ethereum-compatible layer, for maximum scalability and blockchain gaming accessibility to onboard more players to Web3.
Under the new partnership facilitated by the NEAR Korea Hub, NEAR Foundation and MARBLEX plan to achieve mutual growth by linking the NEAR blockchain and Aurora with WARP Bridge to enable interactive collaboration, promote global joint marketing events, and enhance brand awareness.
Through WARP Bridge, competitive and casual gamers alike will now be able to enjoy a variety of games and exclusive content through NEAR’s Blockchain Operating System (BOS). The BOS leverages the NEAR Protocol’s fast transaction speeds as well as effortless scalability and onboarding (via FastAuth) to make the onboarding experience as easy as possible for the masses.
MARBLEX: a developer and publisher of mobile games
A Web3 gaming giant constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, MARBLEX is a well-established developer and publisher of mobile games with more than 6,000 experts from across the globe. MARBLEX’s goal is to bring the highest quality Web3 games to market by providing key services such as a cryptocurrency wallet, decentralized exchange, token staking, and an NFT Marketplace.
“We expect NEAR’s core narrative to play a pivotal role in bolstering the overall MBX 3.0 ecosystem,” said Junki Moon, Business Division Director of MARBLEX added. “Through the collaborative integration of the NEAR Foundation’s extensive technical expertise with the content prowess of the MBX ecosystem, we will maintain our position as pioneers in the ever-evolving landscape of the global blockchain trends.”
Robbie Lim, GM of Business Development at NEAR Foundation, added: “This collaboration with MARBLEX will be an important milestone in promoting various use cases based on BOS (Blockchain Operating System). We will continuously advance the gaming ecosystem of NEAR Protocol as well as attract numerous users to enter the Web3 scene by onboarding high-quality MBX content.”
NEAR Korea Hub, which oversees business development in Korea and Asia, played a key role in this strategic partnership. The Hub also sees the partnership as breaking a barrier to Web3 entry for mobile gamers.
“NEAR Protocol provides a user experience similar to Web2 using Fast Auth account abstraction feature, greatly lowering the initial entry barrier to Web3,” said a spokesperson from NEAR Korea Hub. “We will continue to strongly partner with excellent domestic companies such as MARBLEX to implement a user-centered ecosystem where users can easily enjoy all services.”
NEAR Foundation is excited to announce a new partnership with Absolute Labs, a company revolutionizing Web3’s marketing stack. Its “Wallet Relationship Management™ platform can be used by Web2 brands and Web3 startups alike to acquire, convert and retain customers on the Open Web.
To help in this endeavor, the company announced an $8M seed round of funding at NFT NYC in the past week. Other funding partners include backers like Samsung Next, Aglae Ventures, Sparkle Ventures (Animoca Brands), The Luxury Fund and MoonPay.
”We are thrilled to have the NEAR Foundation as a partner in helping us to accelerate how marketing is done in the next Internet,” says Samir Addamine, Absolute Labs’ CEO and co-founder. “Both our organizations share a vision to accelerate the world’s transition to decentralized marketplaces and more open, transparent and valued user engagement, so it’s a great fit for us.”
What is Wallet Relationship Management
Wallet Relationship Management (WRM™) starts with the premise that wallets hold the keys to everything Web3 — from proving identity, providing access to value-rich brand experiences, facilitating payments, creating “ownership” opportunities for customers, and much more. Combining on-chain data from wallets along with assets that Web2 brands can also inject from their Web2 systems, this platform supports all facets of the marketing funnel, from acquisition to conversion and retention of loyalty.
Users of the platform can gain deep insights into their customers and their on-chain preferences and behaviors, identify actionable segments to track and engage, and craft cross-chain and cross-channel (Web2 and Web3) campaigns to develop and nurture relationships
Absolute Labs customers can also use WRM to reactivate dormant wallet customers by using the WRM dashboard to distribute meaningful incentives such as rewards tokens, NFTs, and more.
To date, Absolute Labs has 40+ companies using their services. With WRM, these customers get an enterprise-grade suite of connectors and APIs to seamlessly integrate with their existing marketing tech stack.
Absolute Labs has an incredibly strong product and is a fantastic addition to the NEAR ecosystem. Their Wallet Relationship Management platform is a clear market leader in the burgeoning Web3 martech space, and is already an indispensable component of the modern marketing stack. By bringing Absolute Labs into the NEAR ecosystem, it creates a seamless Web3 on-ramp for brands and will enable them to engage, retain, and reactivate customers like never before.
DISCLOSURE: Any information shared in this announcement regarding our partnership with Absolute Labs should not be considered as a binding agreement or representation, and may be subject to change without notice. The information presented in this communication is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. Any decisions made based on this information are solely the responsibility of the individual or entity making them.
NEAR Foundation is excited to announce that it has joined Hydra Ventures, a “fund of funds” investment DAO. A first in the Web3 space, Hydra Ventures is designed to help other investment DAOs get off the ground.
By partnering with NEAR Foundation, Hydra Ventures will open the doors to the eventual launch of the first investment DAO in the Near ecosystem.
“The combined expertise of the leaders that have created this fund offers a winning formula that will help provide critical funding to purpose-driven, socially impactful web3 startups,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of NEAR Foundation. “We are delighted to be playing a part in launching this DAO and look forward to seeing the role it will play in developing our ecosystem.”
Decentralizing Web3 investment with DAOs
To power the “fund of funds” investment DAO, Hydra Ventures has raised $10M in capital from NEAR Foundation, MetaCartel Ventures, ConsenSys, 1kx Ventures, Collab + Currency, Nonagon Ventures, CMT Digital, among others. Hydra Ventures aims to take a hands-on approach to support investment DAOs, from community coordination and investment practices to organizational design, incentive design, and back office/operations.
“While the first legally wrapped investment DAOs showed us what was possible, many of them have had major operating flaws which have been exposed over the years,” said Peter Pan, co-summoner of MetaCartel and Partner at 1kx Ventures. “Hydra looks to address many of these problems and ultimately emerge with a fundamentally better model for how investment DAOs should be operated. We are thrilled to have NEAR Foundation’s support in this venture.”
Hydra Ventures is incubated by Thing3 and MetaCartel Ventures (the first and one of the most successful investment DAOs created), and backed by leading founders and thinkers in Web3. MetaCartel has incubated and made investments in several category-leading projects like Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity, Arweave, Open Zeppelin, DAOhaus, Zapper Finance, and Rarible, and were also one of the first investors in Mintbase, an NFT marketplace built on Near. MetaCartel members include Ameen Soleimani (founder, Moloch DAO), Stani Kulechov (founder, AAVE), Roneil Rumburg (founder, Audius), Bobby Ong (founder, Coingecko), RAC (Grammy award winner), Peter Pan (Partner, 1kx Ventures), amongst others.
The recent stream of news clearly demonstrates that the world needs Web3. Trust in legacy institutions is breaking down, individual privacy and individual freedom are equally at risk, and the major Web2 platforms we use every day have become monopolies that focus on profit, not people.
Yet Web3 also hasn’t fully delivered on its promise to open the web. While important progress has been made, much more needs to be done for this technology to deliver fairer, freer digital systems. Today’s Web3 suffers from inaccessible user experience, siloed applications which are difficult to discover, few real-world use cases, and technology tribalism. Put simply, too much hype and not enough value for users.
Since 2018, NEAR has focused on building scalable, secure technology and infrastructure that is easy to use and enables developers to freely create usable applications. Since launching Mainnet in late 2020, the NEAR ecosystem has made incredible progress, becoming one of the top layer-one blockchains with 22 million accounts, 600K monthly active wallets (active defined as 2+ transactions), and 15x growth in users and projects just in the last year. And despite chaos in the market and a major downturn in recent months, NEAR Foundation has sufficient capital to sustain at least five years of operations in bear market conditions thanks to responsible treasury management.
While Web3 has yet to deliver on its promises, NEAR Foundation believes that NEAR is the only ecosystem where Web3 promises can be delivered and where mainstream adoption can happen. All the fundamentals have been established for some time and NEAR is charging full-speed ahead into its next growth phase in 2023. This post will cover NEAR’s convictions heading into next year, the strategic approach to drive our next phase, and a look ahead at new areas of product and development.
Fundamentals and Convictions
- NEAR has the best technology in Web3. Provably scalable, easy to onboard and use, developer friendly, secure, and decentralized, with the most advanced account model and onboarding in the blockchain space.
- NEAR has world-class talent and ample runway. From the core teams at the Foundation and Pagoda, to the incredible NEAR Foundation Council and advisors, to the diverse group of brilliant entrepreneurs building companies, apps, and funds on NEAR, some of the best talent in the world is here on NEAR. And thanks to the Foundation’s responsible treasury management, core ecosystem operations and funding are well-positioned to run for many years to come.
- Achieving mainstream adoption is about users. Not TVL, not flashy headlines, not cultish maximalism. NEAR focuses on what matters for the long term and the bear market will separate the high quality projects from the ones fueled mostly by hype.
- Web 2.5 will get us there. Sweatcoin proved that NEAR can support an app with tens of millions of users on open web infrastructure. This is the next phase of adoption: helping another generation of Web2 apps and communities take advantage of the opportunities Web3 offers while providing a richer, more sustainable experience to their users.
Enabling NEAR to make the most of these convictions in today’s climate means committing to the following goals over the next year.
Growing usage on NEAR will begin with a top-down approach focused on partnerships. The world-class business development team at the Foundation will focus on working with major applications and brands with substantial, established communities to partner with NEAR on real use cases that drive engagement, such as ticketing and earning. High-traction focus verticals include sports, entertainment, and loyalty. Major partnerships in recent months include Grupo Nutresa, Google Cloud, and Sweat Economy.
Any great Web3 ecosystem is an emergent product of a dedicated community of believers. The bottom-up, grassroots approach for the next year on NEAR will empower the community to invest in its own expansion through grants, primarily through 3 major community DAOs: Developer DAO, Marketing DAO, and Creatives DAO (visit the DAO websites to get involved). This means the NEAR Foundation will no longer directly allocate capital to projects, instead supporting the community in these decisions and further decentralizing key elements of the ecosystem. These grassroots DAOs will be supported by the NDC, which has achieved initial traction, including launching a new Governance Working Group and plans to roll out a v1 governance infrastructure for the ecosystem early next year.
In the new year, the NEAR Foundation will form an early-stage accelerator that will provide support to promising projects and founders on NEAR in areas including education, tech, hiring, legal, UX, and GTM guidance, setting them up to grow into the landmark Web3 projects of tomorrow.
With NEAR’s protocol, infrastructure, and developer tooling already well established, the next step in providing the best user experience to Web3 will be at the discovery layer: the connective tissue that connects applications, tooling, social, earning, and developer components across the open web. This stack is what we call a “blockchain operating system.”
Many of the building blocks of the blockchain operating system already exist on NEAR, either as features or apps. These include NEAR Crowd, a gig economy platform with 50% of users transacting every day, and NEAR Social, an on-chain social network with a widget framework that lets developers fork entire app frontends to build new experiences. Combined with upcoming improvements to onboarding, including from EVM wallets (which we’re calling remote accounts), native meta transactions, Keypom, and new chat/social capabilities, NEAR will deliver even more amazing value directly to developers and users.
All of these user-centric elements further up the stack, particularly at the app layer, will form the basis for a core component of the NEAR ecosystem’s product and technical focus in 2023. Pagoda, NEAR Foundation, and other key ecosystem participants will work together to deliver the best possible technology with an increasingly integrated and seamless experience for developers and end users. The goal from here is evolving NEAR to be more than just a layer-one blockchain: it will become a global blockchain operating system. It’s still early days, but building is underway and the vision is clear.
NEAR is Now
NEAR is the place where mainstream adoption of the open web will happen. Soon, anyone in the world—app users, developers, founders, creators—will be able to create without limits.
Thank you for reading our NEAR 2023 Strategy Blog Post and/or participating in the NEAR Go Forward Strategy Twitter AMA! If you have questions or comments we would love to hear them!
NEAR Foundation is excited to share its newest integration with Binance Custody, an institutional-grade digital asset custody solution. By supporting the NEP-141 standard, Binance Custody enables any institutional user with $NEAR holdings to make use of their highly secure storage infrastructure. The integration also makes it easier for Binance Custody to provide future support for any NEP-141 compatible tokens from projects building on NEAR.
For those not yet in the know, NEP-141 is simply a set of rules that determine how tokens on NEAR can operate. It’s an upgrade from the earlier NEP-21 standard by being simpler for users and developers as well as being cheaper and more efficient.
Click here to learn more about NEAR’s NEP-141 standard
Storing NEAR and NEP-141 compatible tokens on Binance Custody
What does it mean to be able to store NEAR and NEP-141 compatible tokens on Binance Custody? It means institutional users benefit from an integrated ecosystem built to help them manage their assets with world-class security standards backed by multi-party computation technology. Binance Custody is an independent, compliant, and audited custodial solution that currently supports over 230 digital assets.
Click here to learn the difference between custodial and non-custodial wallets
“We’re very excited to be part of NEAR’s journey as their institutional custody partner,” said Athena Yu, VP of Binance Custody. “With this integration, $NEAR token holders benefit from our secure, integrated security and liquidity solutions. We welcome any project building on the NEAR protocol to reach out to us to learn how our institutional infrastructure can help them scale with peace of mind.”
Security on Binance Custody
Platform security is paramount, and Binance Custody makes it easy for institutional users to safely store their digital assets. With this integration, Binance Custody allows investors to not only store their $NEAR tokens securely, but also benefit from liquidity opportunities thanks to the custodian’s integration with the vast Binance ecosystem, which includes the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume.
“A core mission for NEAR is building an ecosystem of diverse communities,” says NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament. “With this partnership, NEAR can welcome to the NEAR ecosystem the many financial institutions that have turned to Binance Custody as their trusted provider for digital assets custody and settlement solutions.”
Binance Custody offers a growing suite of solutions currently including:
- Qualified Wallet: institutional-grade cold vault storage
- Prime Wallet: warm wallet infrastructure offering instantaneous transactions between Binance Custody and the Binance exchange, with sub-accounts.
- Binance Mirror: matches an institution’s cold storage custody funds with 1:1 availability on their Binance exchange account to access deep liquidity venues.
- Cold Convert: trade tokens from cold storage with zero counterparty risk and customized slippage tolerance without compromising on security.
Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this press release is not directed at nor intended for use by any users, investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any NEAR tokens. Information in this release is not financial/investment advice, please seek independent financial advice.