Unleashing the power of Web3: an exclusive interview with Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation

Thursday 27 July 2023 09:32 CET | Editor: Diana Lupuleac | Interview

Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation, discusses the company's core solution and the advantages of incorporating Web3 principles for businesses and end consumers.


For those who are unfamiliar with the NEAR Foundation, could you provide an overview of the organisation and its mission?

The NEAR Foundation is a non-profit organisation that supports the ongoing growth and development of an autonomous decentralised NEAR ecosystem. NEAR is a blockchain operating system with the NEAR protocol at its core – a community-driven, carbon-neutral blockchain, which is fast, secure, and scalable.

The NEAR Foundation is on a mission to help onboard a billion users to the infinite possibilities of Web3 with help from the NEAR Blockchain Operating System (BOS), which can be used for creating and discovering open web experiences. NEAR Protocol’s front end is compatible with all blockchains, making it the entry point to the open web for users and developers alike.

Could you please share some details about your professional background? How does your experience align with the mission of the NEAR Foundation?

I'm a French-born computer engineer who has had the privilege of working all over the world, across different business sectors. My journey has taken me from the luxury giant LVMH, famous for Louis Vuitton, to the Boston Consulting Group and Expedia’s I then served as the Managing Director of Europe and Global CMO for Circle, one of the industry's largest crypto companies. During my time at Circle, I was at the forefront of pioneering the consumer application of blockchain.

After Circle, I became the CEO of Mettle, a free mobile business bank account by NatWest built for the UK’s self-employed population. I joined the NEAR Foundation in January 2022, as its CEO, to help onboard millions of users into Web3.

With your involvement in various prominent organisations like Expedia, Circle, and NatWest, what key insights have you gained that financial services companies and professionals can apply in their own practices?

A key learning from the tech industry is to focus on the user when building products and to conduct experiments before going to market. In the world of finance, the essential insight is that regulation exists for a reason – and that is to protect users. However, with the help of technology, regulation can be done differently and without stifling innovation.

Succeeding in the Web3 arena requires a shift from Web2 mindsets. How can leaders embrace this change and approach the future with an open mind?

There is still a big education gap that needs to be addressed by the Web3 community to help leaders develop a better understanding of what the future of Web3 will look like and how it will benefit society. One of the easiest ways to educate people is to share case studies of companies that have successfully transitioned from Web2 to Web3 and show first-hand how this shift has benefited their businesses and consumers.

How does NEAR support Web3 technology? What are the benefits for businesses and end consumers in implementing Web3 concepts, particularly within strategic partnerships and projects involving the financial, retail, and gaming sectors?

We enable Web3 technology by supporting the development of an open, inclusive, sustainable layer on blockchain that is accessible and easy to build on. Users can interact with the platform without the need to navigate complex processes such as purchasing cryptocurrency or installing extensions.

We help the Web3 developer community bring their ideas to life by championing sustainable and socially impactful projects built on the NEAR protocol and the recently launched NEAR Horizon, an accelerator revolutionising how founders are supported in Web3. Through the programme, founding teams can scale their project with the support they need. As a result, we seek to increase the number of teams that are building products with real-world value on the NEAR Protocol.

With the launch of the NEAR Blockchain Operating System (BOS), we aim to make it easy for people to create applications and to offer faster onboarding for services where users don't even know that they have entered the Web3 space – they simply access the applications they want, without compromising ownership of their data.

The benefits that Web3 brings to businesses and consumers include a better way for companies to create and engage a community to enhance loyalty, with users owning their own data and assets. Instead of users having to share their data with a brand and sign up for a newsletter, companies can now create a more meaningful experience in Web3. For example, global racing league SailGP and Oracle have come together to develop a new SailGP fan engagement platform, ‘The Dock’, to provide fans with exclusive offers, content, and rewards.

The loyalty programme uses Oracle’s CrowdTwist platform and bridges the worlds of Web2 and Web3 with the help of the NEAR protocol. The Dock is intended to change the way fans follow SailGP, and it is designed to reward and engage sports enthusiasts worldwide.

Developed as a loyalty platform, SailGP fans will be able to create a personalised account, access and engage with unique SailGP content, and earn points that can be redeemed for exclusive rewards. These include VIP access to SailGP events, signed merchandise, and unique experiences with teams and athletes. The more fans interact – through videos, stories, behind-the-scenes content, quizzes, surveys, polls, and much more – the further they will progress in their own race to become a SailGP Champion.

Gaming is also big on loyalty and Web3, and the NEAR Foundation has partnered with many firms looking to unlock new experiences for their users, especially in countries with big gaming cultures like Korea. We recently signed a partnership with METABORA SG, a Web3 gaming initiative affiliated with South Korea’s multi-platform gaming company, Kakao Games. We are supporting each other to generate Web3 business collaboration opportunities in Korea and worldwide.

Could you provide some insights into NEAR’s future plans?

At NEAR, the open web represents a future where technology is more inclusive, accessible, and user-friendly – and where power and control over data are democratically distributed. We envision a world where applications are permissionless and censorship-resistant, and users retain full control over their own data. We aim to provide the tools developers need to build this future, fostering an ecosystem of innovation and mutual growth.

The launch of the NEAR Blockchain Operating System (BOS) is just the beginning of this journey, serving as the front end that allows any blockchain to join and become user-friendly. Our vision for the future of Web3 involves treating it as a multi-chain construction, where a decentralised front end enables the integration of different chains, moving towards greater decentralisation. We believe BOS will help achieve the goal of making Web 3.0 more accessible to everyone.

About Marieke Flament

Marieke Flament is a French-born computer engineer who has worked across the globe and is now the CEO of the NEAR Foundation. Before joining NEAR, Marieke pioneered turning niche blockchain products into globally recognised brands, scaling Circle from zero to two million users in less than two years and launching USDC. A passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, Marieke was recognised in the Women in FinTech Powerlist for 2017 and 2019, and she is frequently quoted by the press, including The BBC, The Telegraph, Fortune, The Financial Times, Reuters, Forbes, and City AM.


About NEAR Foundation

The NEAR Foundation is a Swiss non-profit that supports the ongoing growth and development of the NEAR Protocol, a carbon-neutral blockchain that is designed to be fast, secure, and scalable. NEAR is built with a focus on usability and ease of use, for both developers and users. NEAR leverages token economics in a unique way that empowers both creators and developers.

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Keywords: web3, blockchain, financial services, cryptocurrency, data
Categories: DeFi & Crypto & Web3
Companies: NEAR
Countries: World
This article is part of category

DeFi & Crypto & Web3


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