NEAR is a decentralized development platform that uses a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism and will eventually feature a sharded architecture to scale transaction throughput. Its block generation scheme is called Doomslug and its proposed sharding design is dubbed Nightshade. These technologies will work together to scale the network and minimize congestion. NEAR has also been designed to be developer and user-friendly as it features a few key innovations to accelerate the application development and user-onboarding processes. The NEAR blockchain was created and developed by the NEAR Foundation. Its mainnet went live in April 2020, and network validators voted to unlock token transfers in October 2020. NEAR's bridge to Ethereum (called the Rainbow Bridge) launched in March 2021.