The team behind the NEAR Protocol, called the NEAR Collective, has thrown its hat into the ring of the burgeoning decentralized finance (DeFi) space by announcing $800 million in funding for the ecosystem’s developers and startup grants.

NEAR Collective is a globally distributed group of teams and individuals contributing to the research and development of the NEAR protocol.

Boosted by the announcement, NEAR, the protocol’s native token, soared to a new all-time high of $12.62 in early hours on Tuesday, before backtracking to $12.17 by press time.

NEAR is still up 17.7% over the last 24 hours, which makes it one of the day’s biggest gainers, according to CoinGecko.


Backed by such high-profile investors as a16z, Pantera Capital, and Coinbase Ventures, NEAR is Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain platform for decentralized applications (dApps).

NEAR’s blockchain uses a technique called “sharding” which splits the network into multiple pieces so that the computation is done in parallel, which improves the network's scalability. This is the same technique that is being utilized, for example, in Ethereum 2.0.

Projects building on NEAR include Mintbase, a non-fungible token (NFT) minting platform, and Flux, a protocol that allows developers to create markets based on assets, commodities, real-world events, and more.


Focus on DeFi

The NEAR Collective said that it is now shifting its focus to DeFi.

“While NEAR is giving all communities access to this record amount of funding, it will be focusing on decentralized finance (DeFi) teams who are actively revolutionizing and reimagining the way we interact with money,” reads the latest announcement.

The NEAR Collective added that DeFi projects on NEAR have already hit a significant milestone of more than $150 million in total value locked (TVL), and that they have “an ambitious goal to grow that number quickly and securely.”

The new funding includes another $350 million in grants announced by Proximity Labs last week.

In addition, NEAR is also actively looking for projects focused on NFTs, DAOs, and gaming, with about $250 million to be allocated to grants for existing ecosystem projects, and another $100 million reserved for startup grants.

The remaining $100 million in funding will be allocated to regional funds across Asia, Europe, and the United States, the NEAR Collective said.

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