Discussing Ethereum merge and B2B products built on NEAR: Interview with NearPay’s Igor
Igor Poltavtsov represents NearPay, a suite of NEAR Protocol-based cryptocurrency products that facilitate the transition from fiat to crypto and vice versa for both individuals and businesses. As a passionate crypto enthusiast navigating the industry since 2016, he had already worked many different jobs – from managing the mining center and building the turn-key data center to executing the cryptocurrency trading platform and running his own exchange.
I reached out to Igor to discuss his vision of the impact that NearPay has done to help blockchain adoption progress. But our conversation actually started with a casual chat about the recently completed Ethereum PoS merge, as I found out that he was a big fan of the project.
The Merge – Is the blockchain trilemma resolved?
When asked to assess the implications of the Merge, Igor said that it was premature at this point as we haven’t seen congestion on mainnet Ethereum post-merge: “It’s hard to talk about how the Merge itself will affect the scalability issues. In fact, it only provided infrastructural foundations for making the base layer faster and cheaper.”
According to him, one of the original Ethereum’s key values is a huge variety of layer-2 solutions, which serve to improve the throughput of the network and reduce gas fees.
“If the move to PoS with the following implementation of sharding achieves the goal of improving capacity, there may be no purpose for layer-2s anymore. Meanwhile, the increased efficiency of Ethereum may trigger L2’s to become much more efficient right alongside. Only time will tell which scenario will prove to be correct,” Igor further reflected.
Continuing on the subject, he noted that while PoW implied that a few data centers and mining pools make decisions regarding the network development through voting, PoS aims to increase the number of such participants by reducing the equipment requirements and removing the competition for the amount of hashrate. However, staking 32 ETH is still a big deal for many average users who then flock to Ethereum’s pool operators to become validators.
“Proof-of-stake is claimed to be a more decentralized and secure alternative to mining. And what we see right now, is that just four entities – Lido, Coinbase, Binance and Kraken – control over 50% of the stake on Ethereum’s PoS network, which looks more like centralization. And this is dangerous as the ongoing situation makes it easier for regulators to put pressure on blockchain operations as large stakeholders are much more susceptible to being influenced by government sanctions.
The data shows that 45% of new ETH validators are located in the USA and already adhere to the OFAC sanctions program, while 25% of all blocked are affected by censorship. And that’s not the limit! Increasing censorship poses a threat of lowering the speed of transaction validation, which will cause additional expenses and, subsequently, the outflow of users from the ecosystem,” Igor cautioned.
After that, he noted that this runs counter to Satoshi Nakamoto’s perception of decentralization, which dictates that no miner or mining center can control 51% of the hashing power.
Businesses will eventually settle payments with blockchain
As the PoS-based blockchains are sliding down the centralization, the Delegated Proof-of-Stake solutions like NEAR Protocol are becoming the focus of the crypto community due to significantly lowering the threshold for staking and creating more sustainable and democratic way of maintaining the network security.
I asked Igor to describe the NEAR ecosystem for those who were new to it, and he pointed out that this was the environment that provided benefits for all kinds of the industry players.
Shifting focus to the B2B segment, Igor emphasized that the NEAR ecosystem is particularly attractive since it offers best-in-class scalability solutions like the Aurora EVM allowing for a quick migration from Ethereum to a more friendly blockchain with significantly reduced transaction costs.
A few other NEAR’s B2B projects he found the most inspiring and influential are Octopus Network that provides leased security and interoperability to substrate appchains, Rainbow Bridge enabling token transfer between Ethereum and NEAR, a streaming money protocol Roketo, and AstroDAO that helps launching DAOs in less than 10 minutes without a line of code. “I believe that the ecosystem needs more such solutions that strive to provide fast, secure and low-fee user experience,” Igor stated.
Then we talked about why traditional entrepreneurs should educate themselves about crypto while it still remains an enigma to many people. Igor insisted that cryptocurrencies were the future of settling payments between clients and businesses.
“Until comparatively recently, the internet and social networks, such as Fido, seemed to be too complicated for average users. But as you can see, today using the web every day has become commonplace and we barely notice that. Same thing goes with crypto – it is only at the beginning of its journey, and those projects that understand this are now putting their efforts to facilitate onboarding of new users to web3 to further benefit as trailblazers.”
He also mentioned that web3, which is a dream place for developers, who build various crypto solutions, has not yet begun to actively develop: “What is happening today, in a nutshell, represents only the initial steps towards the financial system with prevailing decentralization, accessibility and low fees. Here, the governments as controllers, permit systems and benefactors will go into the shadows, while cryptocurrencies and web3 solutions will become supranational institutions.”
Commenting on the mission of NearPay, which brings together NearPay Wallet, the NearPay Prepaid Visa cards and the NearPay Swap widget, Igor explained that the service acts as a bridge that connects cryptocurrencies with fiat money.
“We are a vital part of the ecosystem as we provide on-ramp and off-ramp products, all opening the gate to the market for web2 users. Of course, this role will be reduced along with the mass transition from fiat to crypto, and the wallet will gradually come to the fore, letting users manage their assets in a familiar and convenient way as well as connecting NearPay cards to make day-to-day purchases with cryptocurrencies at any Visa-accepting merchants.
Basically, you can buy everything with crypto, ranging from pizza to the citizenship of some countries like Vanuatu. I think that I need not mention the possibilities of making crypto payments in exchange for cars and real estate – the blockchain technology increasingly runs every human life.”
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