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NEAR is the native token on the NEAR Protocol, a decentralized application platform similar to Ethereum.
NEAR can be used to pay for services such as storage space on NEAR’s platform. The value of NEAR is tied to the success of the NEAR Protocol, which was launched in 2020. If NEAR becomes a popular destination for decentralized apps or other uses, the price of the token could increase as a result.
Decide whether to invest in NEAR
Because the price of NEAR is connected to NEAR Protocol, it’s helpful to know about the central features of that ecosystem:
It uses sharding, which splits up both the processing of data and the storage of data into smaller chunks. Sharding makes NEAR fast and highly scalable.
It uses proof-of-stake rather than proof-of-work, which makes it more environmentally sustainable. By contrast, crypto that uses proof-of-work, like Bitcoin, has a much larger carbon footprint.
It emphasizes usability, including the ability to create readable, discoverable account user names — which could be beneficial in some applications — and interoperability with Ethereum.
It attempts to price in the cost of storage on the platform by requiring users to lock a percentage of their token balance, a requirement similar to maintaining a minimum balance in a checking account.
When sending or receiving NEAR, you’ll pay a gas fee, similar to Ethereum. The gas fees are also roughly 10 times lower than Ethereum's, according to the company.
Another feature of NEAR that could make it appealing to potential users is its ability to interact with the Ethereum network using a technology called Rainbow Bridge. Rainbow Bridge is a permissionless and decentralized tool that brings interoperability to Ethereum and NEAR. For example, a contract made on Ethereum can be validated on NEAR.
Cryptocurrencies are volatile, risky assets and have historically experienced dramatic rises and falls in prices. NEAR’s short track record limits the ability to compare its past performance relative to other cryptocurrencies or other types of investments. Because of NEAR’s recent entry to the market, its core technologies and the willingness of developers to build on it is also unproven.
Find a place to buy NEAR
NEAR is available on centralized exchanges including Binance, Gate.io, FTX and Kraken. However, it is not as universally available as some tokens or coins, with absences on major platforms including Gemini, Coinbase and SoFi.
Decide how to pay for NEAR
Pay with cash or credit card
If buying through a centralized exchange, you can generally transfer funds directly from a bank account. Some exchanges also allow you to pay with credit card.
Pay with another crypto
You might want to buy NEAR with another cryptocurrency you already own. You can do this either through a centralized or a decentralized exchange. On a centralized exchange, the exchange itself facilitates trades based on user orders to buy and sell, similar to how stocks are traded. Decentralized exchanges help establish prices but don’t facilitate trades. Instead, trades are settled directly on the blockchain. Decentralized exchanges can be cheaper and give the users a greater degree of control, but they can also be harder to use.
Purchase and store your NEAR
If you purchase NEAR on an exchange, you can store them on the exchange. To offset the risks involved, you can move them to a wallet. You can use a web-based wallet, referred to as hot wallets, including Trust Wallet, Sender and NEAR Wallet. You can also use a physical device, such as Ledger Wallet. These devices, which are typically not connected to the internet, are referred to as cold wallets.
NEAR allows staking, a process in which users give their NEAR tokens as collateral to validators — which are people who run the servers needed to operate the network — in return for a slice of any rewards earned by the validator. To stake, you’ll need to store tokens in a supported location, like NEAR Wallet or Moonlet.
Disclosure: The author and editor held no positions in the aforementioned investments at the original time of publication.