• In its bid for DeFi Mindshare, NEAR Protocol offers $800 million in grants

  • While Fantom, Harmony, Avalanche, and Celo have all launched nine-figure ecosystem development funds, NEAR’s $800 million grants fund may set a new high water mark.

    The high-speed and self-proclaimed “climate neutral” chain announced the fund on Monday, with major tranches earmarked for specific purposes such as:

    $250 million in ecosystem grants will be distributed over a four-year period. A $100 million regional fund $100 million is earmarked specifically for startups.

    Decentralized finance (DeFi) is also a major focus of the program, with Proximity Labs committing $350 million to the cause. The funds will be managed by a newly formed “DeFi DAO,” and protocols will be able to apply for liquidity mining programs through the DAO. Proximity is a group of early NEAR contributors that spun off from the parent company as an independent entity with NEAR Foundation funding.

    NEAR is getting ready for prime time.

    NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin told ULTCOIN365 that the program has already distributed $45 million in funds this year, with a particular emphasis on early-stage ecosystem building blocks.

    “A lot of the projects we’ve done so far have been infrastructure,” Polosukhin explained. “Croncat allows you to send transactions at different times, and Cartosis is testing smart contracts – so supporting new programming languages, supporting storage, so a lot of it was, ‘What are the building blocks we need to unlock exponential composability?”

    Aurora, an ecosystem project, raised $12 million earlier this month to enable Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) contracts on the NEAR blockchain, which could be the first step toward a full DeFi ecosystem.

    “Before, you felt like you had to pull the ecosystem, but now the ecosystem is pulling you,” Polosukhin explained. “It’s now time for the DeFi money legos to spawn.”

    NEAR is set to launch in April 2020, following token sales from prominent investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital.

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