Near Protocol: The Best Solana Alternative?

Near Protocol: The Best Solana Alternative?

Disclaimer: Your capital is at risk. This is not investment advice.

Token Takeaway: NEAR;

Near is a Layer-1 public blockchain network for smart contract development. Renowned for its exceptional scalability and developer-friendly features, Near places significant emphasis on enhancing user onboarding and experience. This Token Takeaway will delve into the unique aspects of Near, explore the broader Layer-1 space, and analyse the value proposition of its native token, NEAR.


Near, initially introduced as Near.AI in 2017 by Illia Polosukhin and Alexander Skidanov, has transformed significantly since its inception. Faced with the challenges of navigating transactions and development on Ethereum during their Near.AI tenure, Polosukhin and Skidanov opted to develop their own blockchain solution. Near's mainnet debuted in April 2020 to address Ethereum's limitations. Today, Near boasts more than 74 million total accounts, with these accounts collectively executing over a billion transactions, a testament to its growth and potential as a Solana alternative in the Layer-1 blockchain ecosystem.

Near also has substantial support from leading VCs in the industry. Since its inception, Near has secured a staggering $600 million in funding, with its most recent $350 million round led by Tiger Global Management in April 2022. Notable backers include Andreessen Horowitz and Dragonfly Capital, demonstrating the confidence these industry giants have in Near’s potential.

Near’s vision is to drive Web3 into widespread adoption by offering an exceptionally cost-effective, fast and decentralised blockchain ecosystem. This ecosystem aims to mirror the familiar experience of Web2, ensuring a seamless transition for users accustomed to conventional web browsing. However, the competitive landscape of the Layer-1/smart contracts poses a significant challenge. Despite this, Near’s unique features and strategic positioning give it a competitive edge. 

Smart Contracts Sector Overview

Ethereum emerged as the pioneering project that profoundly impacted Web3 development. It paved the way for a multitude of dApps and NFT ecosystems, serving as the catalyst for new sectors such as DeFi, GameFi, and DePIN. However, with the rapid adoption of Web3 and the exponential surge in Ethereum usage, the platform became expensive and sluggish. This limitation presented a significant opportunity for new Layer-1 blockchains to offer similar functionalities as Ethereum but in a more cost-effective and scalable manner. Today, there is a plethora of alternative smart contract development platforms. Among them, only BNB Chain's BNB token has achieved a market cap exceeding $100bn, while Solana's SOL token came close, reaching as high as $90bn. However, unlike BNB, which reached its all-time high market cap in November 2021, SOL achieved its peak in March 2024.

The Solana ecosystem has witnessed remarkable growth since Q4 2023, showcasing outstanding activity. Despite being one of the fastest blockchains, Solana has struggled to manage the surge in activity, prompting a series of updates to address network congestion. While this presents a challenge, overwhelming demand is a good problem to have. However, similar to how Ethereum congestion spurred growth for platforms like Solana, Solana's congestion now offers opportunities for its competitors. Near Protocol is capitalising on this trend, as evidenced by the increasing activity on its platform.

Interestingly, congestion isn't Solana's sole concern; in fact, it's not even the primary drawback. The most significant issue facing Solana, far more impactful than congestion, is network outages. According to data from Solana's official network status website dating back to March 2021, the platform has experienced several major outages.

Solana Outages Since September 2021

Date Outage
14 September 2021 17 Hours of Major Outage
January 2022 9 Days of Partial Outages
30 April 2022 2 Hours of Major Outage
1 May 2022 5 Hours of Major Outage
1 June 2022 4 Hours of Major Outage
30 September 2022 1 Hour of Major Outage
1 October 2022 6 Hours of Major Outage
25 February 2023 18 Hours of Major Outage
6 February 2024 4 Hours of Major Outage

Source: Solana

Marked by the highest number of outages, 2022 stands out as the worst year for Solana. That notably improved in 2023, with only one day affected by an outage, albeit lasting 18 hours. Following this, Solana enjoyed a commendable streak of an entire year without outages before encountering another on 6 February 2024.

Outages are common on Solana, and the SOL token price seemed to have gotten used to it, but it is a huge problem and has no fix. Imagine you’re trying to borrow a million dollars within Solana's DeFi ecosystem or minting a high-value NFT collection, only to face an 18-hour mainnet crash. Such incidents tarnish Solana's reputation, especially as it aims for mass adoption. 

Do you know which Layer-1 blockchain boasts incredible speed, affordability, scalability, and 100% core mainnet uptime? You guessed it – Near. Near handles millions of transactions daily, with an average block time of 1.2 seconds and fees averaging around $0.0001 in normal network conditions. There's plenty to explore; let's dive in!

Near Fundamentals and Features