Paras and their expansion to Astar

On April 6th, we celebrated the launch of smart contracts 2.0 on WASM day. One of the projects joining us for it was Paras. Paras has developed the first launchpad for WASM NFTs featuring an innovative refunding NFT standard to ease the fear of losing one’s funds when minting. They also have successfully been accepted to our dApp staking program.

But who is Paras anyway, you might wonder. In this post, you’ll learn all you need to know about Paras and their reasons to go multichain with Astar.

What is Paras, and how did they get started?

Paras is an NFT marketplace that was one of the first to launch on NEAR protocol. Riqi, the founder of Paras, first learned about blockchain in 2017 but felt that it wasn’t the right time to develop a dApp since most use cases focused on trading. 3 years later, however, with the emergence of non-trading dApps he decided to take the plunge and started building the first iteration of Paras.

After conducting thorough research and interviewing digital artists, Paras has built a platform loved by artists and collectors alike. The marketplace first launched in Q3 2020, with sales growing by multiples ever since.

Even 3 years later, Paras holds a 95% market share of NFT trading volumes on NEAR and has facilitated more than 900k transactions. Its API sees 2.5 million requests/day, and the platform has become much more than just an NFT marketplace. Now, Paras is a hub for digital artists, collectors, and innovators to come together.

To mention just a few things that set Paras apart from other marketplaces:

  • Focus on creating a digital card collectible experience that evokes memories of trading Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh cards in the schoolyard with your friends. Furthermore, the team hosts frequent card4card events where collectors can swap cards and collect new cards from their favorite artists.
  • Curation: while completely permissionless marketplaces are desirable as well, Paras takes a different approach to provide a more organized experience for its collectors. Or as their team puts it: If typical permissionless NFT markets are like the jostling busy street vendors on a downtown street, Paras is the clean, well-organized shop known for quality. There’s a place for each to coexist. Curation and discovery are further supported by Paras’ publication feature, which lets artists enhance their visuals through storytelling. And for those looking to receive recommendations, the Paras team shares a weekly digest of the best artworks on its platform.
  • Comics: Paras hosts a comic platform for artists to publish their works as NFTs and a reader to enable collectors to enjoy them. The comic artists Gary Edmund, who previously worked with Marvel and other Indie publishers, shared that using Paras allowed him to get out of the “printable format” paradigm, further underscoring the potential for the combination of NFTs x Comics.

Why start on NEAR?

When it comes to launching NFTs, it’s probably natural these days for teams to go by volume, and NEAR NFT trading volumes pale in comparison to EVM chains or the likes of Solana. Nevertheless, the Paras team, having joined a lot of hackathons and built on a lot of chains, felt that in 2020 when they were building, NEAR had one of the best technical teams and a highly scalable platform to facilitate mass adoption.

After having established themselves in NEAR, Paras entered the Polkadot ecosystem this year to bring their unique experience and ideas to the space.

Multichain vision

Just like Astar, Paras believes in the multichain future. Eventually, each chain will have its own niche use case, and there won’t be one chain to rule them all, as some maxis like to claim. For Paras itself, they want to continue being a main driver for NFT innovation and expanding what artists can do with them. Going multichain to leverage what’s available in other ecosystems is only a natural step.

And everyone in the Polkadot/Substrate ecosystem knows that there are some fascinating NFT innovations, such as the RMRK standard, rental NFTs, and more.

The development experience

The Paras team had over 2 years of experience running and building NFT infrastructure on NEAR protocol. Smart contracts on NEAR are written in RUST, one of the languages considered highly secure, and then compiled to WASM. Consequently, making the transition to Astar’s ecosystem, which is based on WASM, wasn’t very hard for the Paras team and they created their first full product on Astar within months: their launchpad.

NFT launchpad

During launch day, users could already try the experience of the Paras launchpad by minting a commemorative NFT. In the future, projects can organize their first mint on it, benefiting from the refundable NFT standard.

The idea of refundable NFTs is to take out some of the fear that keeps away those wanting to mint an NFT but are afraid of losing their funds. The team believes that providing a safety net to collectors is crucial to increase onboarding by lowering risks. That’s why the refundable NFT standard has refunds programmed in. That means if a collector within 30 days changes their mind, they can still receive 95% of the initial price back, and even after 90 days have passed, they can claim 70% of the price. Consequently, with refundable NFTs, anyone can explore with ease of mind.

The standard itself is called PSP34R and can be deployed by other builders as well, thanks to the composability of Substrate pallets.

The first launch on Paras’ launchpad will be the pfp collection Project Sabia. Stay tuned for more details coming soon. 👀

We’re looking forward to seeing what the team will build on Astar in the near future.

Some words on getting from Astar to NEAR and vice versa

Since both networks are natively non-EVM, there are yet bridges to be built to facilitate a smooth swap between them. We’ll let you know as soon as options are available. However, if you want to try out Paras’ NEAR experience, you can exchange some native Astar to NEAR on a CEX or bridge Ethereum assets to NEAR using the rainbow bridge.

Alternatively, you can also give it a go on testnet: When setting up a NEAR testnet wallet, you’ll automatically receive tokens.

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