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2021 saw the rise of many alternative Layer-1 chains such as Solana, Terra (Luna), and Avalanche (commonly referred to as SoLunAvax in the Crypto Twitterverse). However, NEAR Protocol seems to have gone by relatively unnoticed within this narrative, even with the announcement of its generous $800M ecosystem development fund last year in October, which had at the time only stirred temporary excitement for the project.
However, things seem to be picking up for NEAR - with its native token $NEAR among the more resilient assets in an otherwise bearish and sideways market at the start of Q1 2022 (before the entire market went tumbling). NEAR Protocol has been drawing comparisons with the likes of Ethereum 2.0, Solana, and even ‘Layer-0’ chains like Polkadot and Cosmos due to its scalability and low transaction fees. So what is NEAR Protocol, and how do these comparisons measure up?