Will NEAR become the Blockchain Operating System of web3?
NEAR's Blockchain Operating System aims to simplify web3, transforming blockchain interaction.
NEAR Protocol’s Blockchain Operating System (BOS) is a novel approach to the world of web3 that looks at the entire blockchain ecosystem and attempts to create a framework to abstract “janky” usability and complex user journeys.
Originally announced in October 2022 and followed by the launch of the first gateway in May 2023, the BOS initially faced skepticism from the NEAR community and investors. However, it has since gained traction and is now deemed a “game-changer for all blockchains going forward,” according to NEAR Protocol in a recent Medium article.
“We can confidently say that not only do we understand the BOS vision, but that we’re convinced it offers a unique competitive advantage, and an exceptionally forward looking and strategic move for NEAR Foundation and Pagoda to go all-in on, during the 2022 bear market.”
Simplifying blockchain interaction
The NEAR core team claims to have prioritized usability since the project’s inception, aiming to overcome the complexities and difficulties users often encounter when interacting with blockchain technology.
By connecting blockchain applications with “user-friendly pathways,” the BOS aims to allow businesses to create and integrate seamless entry points to specific use cases within the blockchain, hiding the underlying complexity from users who experience a simplified interface tailored to the application’s preferences. NEAR describes the BOS as follows:
“The BOS is your all-in-one solution, for connecting a user or a business to an application on a blockchain, as if they were just using the internet to browse for Amazon clothes.
The BOS connects the janky and painful world of the internet of value with the intuitive and relatively familiar world of the common internet (sometimes referred to as Web2.0).”
Real-world applications showcased
NEAR’s article outlines some potential example use cases for a BOS, including a commonly-touted “Steam Gaming On-Chain” gateway, which would offer one-click access to any web3 game on NEAR, Ethereum, and Solana. This gateway could feature a game item marketplace that enables users to easily play, earn, sell, trade, and custody their game items with a $10 monthly payment for access to 50+ games with no upfront costs.
Current methods of using multiple chains and bridges to facilitate cross-chain interaction are far from optimal, as anyone who has interacted with web3 dApps will surely agree.
In NEAR’s vision, the idea is for the BOS to further enable a global blockchain account marketplace, where users could purchase a named ID from any blockchain ecosystem, providing a single domain marketplace for all blockchains.
NEAR’s role in the BOS ecosystem
NEAR believes that the BOS not only simplifies user experiences but also plays a crucial role in monetization within the NEAR ecosystem. NEAR tokens will serve to ” anchor the entire system,” acting as the medium of exchange for licensing or implementations between dApps, widgets, and gateways. While gateway providers purchase and stake NEAR tokens to cover transaction fees and other user actions that may incur a cost on-chain.
“BOS is positioned to project NEAR into the top 10 most important digital assets in the world, while also opening up the floodgates to an entirely new user base.”
BOS: A vision for interoperability
The vision of the BOS is to position NEAR as the central blockchain connecting all other blockchains, a concept that has been proposed before but not with the product stack that BOS introduces. Co-Founder of NEAR, Illia Polosukhin, described the Blockchain Operating System stack as follows:
“Near Discovery (featured gateway: http://alpha.near.org)
NEAR Social (contract)
NEAR Onboarding (Fast Auth)
NEAR Data (Query API)
NEAR Protocol (still an L1)”
NEAR states that the OBS is a long-term approach that will take years to fully integrate but is expected to create a durable foundation for NEAR to eventually incorporate multi-chain components and dApps.
While the BOS brings forth a promising future, it’s essential to recognize the potential risks and challenges associated with its implementation. NEAR clearly identified the network effect of Ethereum in its article and the challenges a younger blockchain such as NEAR faces in the face of competition.
As the BOS continues to develop, it promises an ever-expanding ecosystem of widgets, dApps, and gateways for various blockchain-use cases and an increasing number of daily active users.