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Sending $NEAR

You might want to send tokens from a contract for many reasons.

  • The contract uses something like the Storage Standard and needs to return deposits to users when they unregister.
  • Users pay into the contract and the contract later pays these fees to the maintainers, redistributes them to users, or disburses them to some cause the users vote on.
  • And more!

Blockchains give us programmable money, and the ability for a smart contract to send tokens lies at the heart of that ability.

NEAR makes this easy. Transferring NEAR tokens is the simplest transaction you can send from a smart contract. Here's all you need:

let amount: u128 = 1_000_000_000_000_000_000_000_000; // 1 $NEAR as yoctoNEAR
let account_id: AccountId = "example.near".parse().unwrap();


In the context of a full contract and function call, this could look like:

use near_sdk::{json_types::U128, near_bindgen, AccountId, Promise};

pub struct Contract {}

impl Contract {
pub fn pay(amount: U128, to: AccountId) -> Promise {

Most of this is boilerplate you're probably familiar with by now – imports, setting up near_bindgen, borsh, etc. Some interesting details related to the transfer itself:

  • U128 with a capital U: The pay method defined here accepts JSON as input, and numbers in JS cannot be larger than 2^53-1, so for compatibility with deserializing JSON to JS, the integer is serialized as a decimal string. Since the transfer method takes a number in yoctoNEAR, it's likely to need numbers much larger than 2^53-1.

    When a function takes U128 as input, it means that callers need to specify the number a a string. near-sdk-rs will then cast it to U128 type, which wraps Rust's native u128. The underlying u128 can be retrieved with .0 – used in transfer(amount.0).

  • AccountId: this will automatically check that the provided string is a well-formed NEAR account ID, and panic with a useful error if not.

  • Returning Promise: This allows NEAR Explorer, near-cli, near-api-js, and other tooling to correctly determine if a whole chain of transactions is successful. If your function does not return Promise, tools like near-cli will return immediately after your function call. And then even if the transfer fails, your function call will be considered successful. You can see a before & after example of this behavior here.

Using near-cli, someone could invoke this function with a call like:

near call $CONTRACT pay '{"amount": "1000000000000000000000000", "to": "example.near"}' --accountId benjiman.near