NEAR crypto has doubled in price in four weeks. Here’s what you need to know about the hot new currency

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of NEAR. Launched in October 2020, the cryptocurrency hasn’t made waves like Bitcoin, Ethereum, or popular meme coins. But in the past month, investor interest in the token has exploded.

On March 13, NEAR was trading at $9.73. On Friday morning, it had nearly doubled to $19.63. And in the past 24 hours, it’s up nearly 24%, due in large part to venture capital interest in the decentralized exchange powering it.

It’s a bull run that other cryptos, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, can’t keep up with. (Bitcoin is up 16% in that same time frame. Ether is up 28%.) NEAR’s market cap has jumped to nearly $13 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, topping that of Morningstar, Logitech and Lyft.

The latest NEAR surge follows news on Wednesday that Near Protocol, the company behind the NEAR token, has closed a strategic investment round led by Tiger Global. That followed a $150 million round in January and $21.6 million in May 2020.

Near Protocol says the money will be used to accelerate the decentralization of its ecosystem.

Additionally, Barry Silbert, the founder of venture company Digital Currency Group, announced on Thursday that NEAR had become the company’s third-largest crypto holding, trailing Bitcoin and Ether.

There are also rumors that Near plans to launch a native stablecoin, though the company has not commented on those. Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that derives value from some underlying external asset, like the U.S. dollar or the price of gold, rather than being “mined” by computers.

While it was launched for trading in 2020, Near was founded in 2018 as a platform for building decentralized applications using smart contracts. It has since grown to being the 16th-largest crypto as ranked by market cap, just shy of Shiba Inu.

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