A Guide To NEAR Wallets
In the current crypto market, Ethereum is the platform of choice for decentralized applications, smart contracts, and decentralized finance. However, Ethereum has several problems that are a hindrance, such as high gas fees and significant issues relating to scalability. So while Ethereum may be Numero Uno, several other protocols are emerging to challenge Ethereum in the market.
NEAR protocol is one of the blockchains that has emerged as a true challenger to Ethereum’s dominance in the space. The team at NEAR looked at Ethereum’s shortcomings and created a protocol that goes straight for its most glaring shortcoming, its lack of scalability and high gas fees. NEAR uses a process called sharding, allowing the protocol to scale exponentially. NEAR has also managed to raise significant funding from some of the biggest venture capitalists, including a16z, Coinbase Ventures, Scalar Capital, Dragonfly Capital, and several more. In this guide, we will look at NEAR, and in particular, the NEAR wallet.
The NEAR Protocol
Founded in 2018, the NEAR Protocol is a decentralized development platform designed to create a seamless and near-perfect environment for decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts. NEAR was created after analyzing the shortcomings of existing protocols, particularly Ethereum. The protocol focuses on addressing these issues and is looking to become the go-to platform for Decentralized Applications and Decentralized Finance. NEAR’s use of sharding allows the protocol to scale up exponentially, addressing scalability issues prevalent in the space.
NEAR’s Proof-of-Stake blockchain is extremely developer-friendly, thanks to it being low-cost and highly scalable, and developers can seamlessly create decentralized applications. The NEAR protocol also has several other features, such as the NEAR wallet and other components. Our focus in this article will be on the NEAR wallet, but more on that a little later. NEAR also utilizes Doomslug, allowing blocks to achieve finality in seconds. Other blockchains usually centralize processing, limiting its usability to very high-end hardware. While this approach increases throughput, it does so only temporarily. NEAR is capable of scaling linearly, supporting billions of transactions in a decentralized manner.
NEAR has been created by the NEAR Collective, a community of researchers and developers. NEAR collective’s focus is the continuous development and improvement of the protocol. The collective has also worked on the initial code of the NEAR Protocol and implementation of the NEAR Network. While the NEAR Collective is behind the development of the NEAR Protocol, the latter operates entirely independently and is entirely decentralized, with even the NEAR Collective unable to shut it down.
Advantages Of The NEAR Protocol
- NEAR users do not require any complicated browser extensions or keys to register. A simple email and password is sufficient to register.
- NEAR smart contracts are compatible with WebAssembly Virtual Machine (WASM).
- The protocol allows developers to deploy scalable and high-performance blockchain applications.
- A fraction of the gas fees compared to others such as Ethereum.
What Is A Crypto Wallet
Before moving on to the NEAR wallet, it is essential to understand what a wallet is. In the simplest of terms, crypto wallets safely store your private keys, ensuring that your cryptocurrency is safe and accessible. You can also use crypto wallets to conduct transactions, send and receive cryptocurrency, or even spend your crypto. When selecting a crypto wallet, you have several options to choose from. These are paper wallets, hardware wallets, and online wallets.
Hot wallets are online-based wallets that allow users to transfer their crypto quickly. Most online exchanges have their own wallets which users can access. Hot wallets are easy to access through a mobile or desktop. While hot wallets offer easy connectivity, they are also at risk from threats such as hacking. Desktop wallets, online wallets, and mobile wallets are examples of hot wallets.
A cold wallet or hardware wallet is a device similar to a USB device where users can store their keys. The wallet is portable and can be connected to a laptop/desktop whenever the user wishes to access their crypto. Hardware wallets are much less prone to threats such as hacking or any other malicious attack that could occur online.
A paper wallet is essentially a printed piece of paper containing your public key and private key. The keys can be accessed only through a QR code. Paper wallets are used to store a significant amount of cryptocurrency since they are considered extremely safe.
The NEAR Wallet
Developers at the NEAR Protocol have developed a convenient wallet application for NEAR tokens. The wallet is an in-browser and web-based wallet that users can use the NEAR wallet to create and interact with other NEAR accounts. The wallet is also required to interact with the NEAR Protocol. The wallet is used to store the NEAR tokens and NEP21 token standards, which are supported on the NEAR blockchain. The wallet allows users to send or receive NEP21 and NEAR tokens and interact with applications on the protocol. While using the NEAR wallet, it is essential to remember the following information.
A key differentiator for NEAR accounts is that NEAR uses human readable accounts, and not a hash. So an account on NEAR would not read as 0x71C7656EC7ab88b098defB751B7401B5f6d8976F but as alice.near or bob.near. NEAR accounts can also create sub-accounts, but only the root account can create them. Another critical differentiator is that most blockchains have one public/private key pair for each account. On NEAR, accounts can have multiple key pairs associated with them. These are called “access keys.” Access keys are of two types, a full access key, and a functional call. A full access key grants the user complete control of their NEAR account. On the other hand, Functional call allows for non-monetary transaction signing.
Wallet Address – The wallet address is essentially a sequence of characters or numbers or both that are used to send or receive tokens using the NEAR wallet.
Private Key And Passphrase – The passphrase and security key is a type of password. The passphrase comprises 12 words, while the private key consists of a sequence of letters and numbers. Both are extremely important steps when it comes to wallet recovery.
Creating A NEAR Wallet
The NEAR Wallet allows users to send and receive NEAR tokens and stake their NEAR tokens. However, you have to create a wallet on NEAR to access these features. Let’s get started.
- The first step is to go to https://wallet.near.org/. Once you reach this page, you will have two options, Create Account or Import Existing Account. We will go with the first option.
- Once you click on “create an ID,” you have to create an account name. Create your account name and if the name is available, click on “Reserve My Account ID.”
- The next step is choosing how to restore access to your account. There are three recovery methods for you to consider. You can use a seed phrase, connect a ledger hardware wallet, or email. The protocol recommends choosing a seed phrase or connecting a ledger hardware wallet, as these are more secure than securing your account through email. We will select “Secure Passphrase” in this example and move ahead.
- It is highly recommended that you use the Ledger Nano S or X. Using the ledger ensures that your private keys are securely stored in your ledger. The Ledger provides the highest level of security whilst using the NEAR wallet. Setting up your ledger is simple, all you have to do is download Ledger Live, and update the firmware. To install the NEAR Ledger app, open the Ledger Live app, go to Settings and click on Experimental Features. From here you will be able to switch on Developer Mode. Once this step is completed, select Manager, Search for NEAR and click on Install.
- Once you click on Secure Passphrase”, a seed phrase will appear on the screen, containing 12 mnemonic words. You have to store these words safely, and the best way to do that is simply write them down in a book or a piece of paper and store it in a safe place. Please do NOT take a screenshot and save the phrase or store it on any online medium. Your seed phrase is for you alone.
- Confirm and verify that you have entered the seed phrase correctly and completed the setup process.
- Once you have completed verifying your seed phrase, you will be redirected to the “Fund Your Account” screen. This process is required to get the ID that you selected earlier. There are several ways in which you can fund your account. You can either do it yourself by going to your exchange account and sending NEAR to the one-time funding address. You can also fund your account using Moonpay or ask a friend who has NEAR to send 1 NEAR to your temporary address. Once the transaction is confirmed, your initial deposit will reflect in the wallet.
- Now that your account is successfully funded, click on “Continue to Account,” and you will be redirected to your wallet’s home interface.
Once your account is created, it is recommended that you enable 2FA. This step is critical as it significantly increases the security of your NEAR wallet account.
Account Creation With Ledger
Let’s understand how you can create an account using a Ledger device.
- Go to wallet.testnet.near.org and select “Create an Account.”
- Use the same step described in the previous method and reserve an account ID. Once you enter your ID, click on “Create The Account.”
- Next, you will have to choose your security method. This is where account creation is different because you will be using your Ledger device. So instead of “Recovery Phrase”, select the “Ledger Nano S or X.”
- After selecting the Ledger option, hit “continue” and you will be prompted to connect your ledger device.
- Once you have connected your Ledger device, unlock it. If you have the NEAR app installed, select it. Your Ledger device will say “Pending Ledger Review”. Click both buttons on the top of the device and your device will prompt you to “Use Wallet To View Accounts.” Once this message appears, you can go ahead and click “Continue.”
- Once you hit continue, the public key will appear on your Ledger screen. Approve the public key and confirm the operation on the Ledger.
- Next you will be prompted to add a key on your Ledger wallet. Once you click on “Approve” on the ledger. Once the operation has been approved, your account has been successfully created.
Staking Using The NEAR Wallet
The NEAR network is run by users that operate nodes, known as validators. The NEAR community supports validators through staking. Validators keep a minimum amount staked, allowing them to stay on as validators. NEAR token holders can stake with any validator they choose, allowing them to earn rewards from the network. The NEAR wallet has a staking user interface that is built directly into the web application.
Let’s understand how to stake using the NEAR wallet. Staking using the NEAR wallet is a fairly straightforward process and comprises the following steps.
- Select the option to stake from the navigation bar. If you are on mobile, then you will find the option in your dropdown menu.
- Select the button that says “Staking Validator.”
- Select the validator of your choice from the list of validators. Remember, as a NEAR token holder; you can stake with any validator of your choosing.
- Once you have confirmed your choice, you can select “Stake with Validator.”
- Once you click on “Stake with Validator,” you will be prompted to enter the number of NEAR tokens that you would like to stake. Once you enter the number of tokens, click on “Submit Stake.”
To complete the staking process, you have to confirm two transactions—one transaction to select the validator and the other to deposit and stake with the selected validator.
Unstaking Your Stake
Unstaking your stake is extremely simple. Simply go to the staking dashboard and select your chosen validator. Once selected, click on “Unstake” and confirm. You will be able to access and withdraw your stake only after 36-48 hours have passed. To withdraw your stake, simply go to the validator page and click on “Withdraw.”
Monitor Staking Information
The NEAR wallet interface allows you to choose validators and also allow you to view information such as
- The total amount staked – This allows you to view the total number of NEAR tokens with validators that are accumulating rewards.
- Unclaimed rewards – These are rewards that have been earned but haven’t been withdrawn from the staking pool. These unclaimed rewards are automatically staked again, increasing the total amount staked and compounding rewards.
- Tokens for withdrawal – These are tokens that have been unstaked and are ready to be withdrawn.
- Tokens pending release – These unstaked tokens are still waiting for the 36-48 hour window to lapse.
- Validator fees – Validator fees are paid to validators to stake on your behalf. Validator fees are charged on rewards earned and not against the token balance staked to the validators.
Connecting Your NEAR Wallet To A dApp on NEAR
Connecting your NEAR wallet to a decentralized application on NEAR is extremely simple. You have to go to Awesome NEAR and choose one of the many available dApps. Click on the desired application, and you will see an option to “Sign In With NEAR Wallet” on the interface. Once you click, you will get a message on your screen stating that the dApp is requesting permission to access your account. Click on “Allow,” and the dApp will automatically be connected to the dApp.
Other Wallets Supported By NEAR
MyNearWallet is a web wallet that allows users to securely store and stake NEAR tokens and compatible assets. It is the official successor of the legacy NEAR Wallet. MyNearWallet also has wNEAR and USN swaps available, as well as ways to purchase NEAR.
HERE Wallet is a mobile wallet for the NEAR Protocol. With the use of this application, you can easily buy, sell and use NEAR. HERE is based on a liquid stacking protocol. All users start to receive passive income immediately after depositing. At the same time NEAR at HERE Wallet is not frozen and you can use it at any time without fees. Read more about it in our whitepaper. Also, the HERE Wallet can even work together with the NEAR web wallet, giving users access to all dApps.
Sender Wallet is a browser extension wallet built for NEAR protocol, which is also available as an app. It launched in February 2022, and is gaining popularity among NEAR users for its wide variety of features such as a blacklist of malicious addresses, Ledger support, NFT collectibles, token exchange, and staking. If you’re worried about security, Sender has got you covered. It has been audited by SlowMist, a leading cybersecurity firm, and it also regularly gives out bug bounties to ensure that security is up to date. With investors like Binance Labs, and Crypto.com Capital Sender Wallet has received a lot of industry backing, and is sure to be a mainstay in the NEAR ecosystem.
Meteor Wallet is a browser extension, and web wallet built for the NEAR ecosystem. Coming to the NEAR protocol in Q3 2022, this new wallet has an intuitive interface, and many exciting features such as simple onboarding, easy recovery, advanced NFT features and many more. Everything on the wallet is encrypted, and nothing is logged, so that you can have peace of mind that your crypto assets are safe. This new wallet is quickly gaining popularity among NEAR users and is sure to take up a decent chunk of market share this coming year.
The Trust Wallet is a non-custodial and decentralized wallet that allows users to store their cryptocurrencies. The assets are stored in a digital address accessible only by the user, making it a secure and efficient way to store digital assets. Trust wallet focuses on simplicity and ease of use. The wallet is an open-source, community-driven, multi-currency wallet capable of storing almost all cryptocurrencies. It provides users with a convenient way to manage their cryptocurrencies and allows them to control their private keys completely.
The wallet was acquired by Binance and is the official wallet of the Binance exchange. The wallet allows users to retain complete control of their assets and private keys stored on the user’s device. Developers can also build dApps, without any complications such as low-level implementation details. The wallet also supports on-wallet staking, which means users can earn rewards on any supported Proof-of-Stake or Delegated Proof-of-Stake tokens. Trust Wallet allows users to earn rewards and continually adds more stablecoins and cryptocurrencies.
NEAR’s ecosystem allows users to access a host of NFTs, decentralized applications, and DeFi solutions. NEAR addresses the shortcomings of blockchains such as Ethereum, offering solutions to long-standing problems such as network congestion, high gas fees, and slow processing fees. The NEAR wallet allows users to create and interact with NEAR accounts, allowing users to store their NEAR tokens, and stake them to earn rewards. We hope this guide provides some clarity about the functioning of the NEAR wallet and its use cases.