Now, blockchain interoperability has been the pot of gold that sat at the end of the rainbow for most of the cryptocurrency space.
Most developers have been in-between ecosystems and had no idea how to port their applications to other blockchains and ledgers.
This problem however is being resolved in two ways. The first way, layer-2 solutions are built from scratch and they produce mixed results (based on what we have seen so far).
Yes, things will improve as they always do within the cryptocurrency space.
However, a mix between cross-platform applications could also be an avant-garde approach to this issue.
Aurora which spun off NEAR is one of those projects that could be the future of blockchain interoperability.
We reached out to Alex Shevchenko, who is the CEO of Aurora Labs.
They just had their recent funding round and raised $12 million from various investors.
Here is what Alex told us.
Alex Shevchenko CEO at Aurora Labs
Please, can you explain to us, Aurora’s blockchain interoperability concept?
Aurora is implemented as a solution to extend the Ethereum economy.
From the user standpoint Aurora is a separate network with ETH as a base token and the bridge to Ethereum.
All the tools for the Ethereum ecosystem (wallets, SDKs, IDEs) are also working for Aurora.
Why is Aurora focused on NEAR-Ethereum interoperability?
Aurora is focused on extending Ethereum economy.
How has Aurora’s NEAR Ethereum Virtual Machine performed when compared to others?
Aurora transactions cost around $0.01 with the confirmation time less than 2 seconds.
Do you have any plans for adding other blockchains to the mix? Please, can you tell us more about them?
At the moment Aurora does not have a plan to deploy the execution environment to other blockchains.
However bridges to other blockchains is something that is already in progress.
Any bridge with NEAR would automatically mean that this bridge is interoperable with Aurora.
Congratulations on your recent $12 million funding round! What’s next for Aurora?
Improving Aurora performance, fast transfers over the bridge (in seconds, though still trustless), and a sharded version of Aurora.
Please, can you tell us more about the partners behind the funding round?
Aurora’s funding round was less about funding but rather about early ecosystem development.
In the funding round we have more than 100 investors, mainly Ethereum projects that are looking forward to extending their operations to the network with lower fees and faster confirmation times.
What is the impact of launching your NEAR-Ethereum Network bridge? How have developers responded?
Rainbow Bridge is in operation for about a half of the year.
Mainly it’s used by the developers to allow the users to bring their tokens to NEAR. Net flow over the Rainbow Bridge exceeded $100M over this period of time.
However, we see that the Rainbow Bridge is capable of much more than just token transfers: it is a generic bridge and allows to send any messages or even doing cross-chain smart contract calls with callbacks.
All the feedback that we received about the bridge until now was extremely positive from both, architecture point of view and from user experience point of view. You can check out Aurora’s bridge here.
How prepared is Aurora for the launch of ETH 2.0?
We’re working in the same direction with ETH 2.0.
We fully support the Evolution of Ethereum blockchain and participating in it by committing our code to base open source implementations of the EVM.
We’re looking forward to collaboration with Ethereum Foundation on bringing sharded EVM to the world: at the moment Aurora and Ethereum Foundation are the only people that are moving this technology forward to our best knowledge.
Please, can you tell us more about the Rainbow Bridge?
Rainbow Bridge is a trustless bridge between Ethereum and NEAR blockchains.
It is based on the concept of implementing light Ethereum and NEAR nodes as smart contracts on NEAR and Ethereum correspondingly.
This bridge elevates the security of NEAR blockchain against retrospective attacks to the same level as Ethereum blockchain has.
On top of the Rainbow Bridge technology, we have implemented the Aurora bridge — the bridge between Ethereum and Aurora.
What are the other products and projects that you have in development at Aurora at the moment?
We’re focusing on Aurora and Rainbow Bridge at the moment.
We hope that newly created Aurora DAO will guide the project and suggest specific product development.
What is the backstory behind Aurora’s founding? Please, can you tell us about that?
Aurora was started as two separate projects: Rainbow Bridge and ‘EVM’, in NEAR Inc.
Both of the projects were focused on the interoperability with Ethereum blockchain.
The development started in the autumn 2019.
As soon as we understood that two projects are super interconnected and the same people are working on them, we decided to merge them under the single brand name — Aurora.
And, in the best traditions of the decentralisation, NEAR management proposed to do a spin off from NEAR to be faster and independent from the mother company.
NEAR founders are true believers in the decentralisation and have been thinking of this approach in the operations from the very beginning of NEAR.
What security measures are in place to protect assets within the Aurora ecosystem?
Aurora shares the same security measures as NEAR blockchain.
Rainbow bridge smart contracts are audited in 2020 and are undergoing the second security audit right now.
Please, can you tell us more about the team behind Aurora?
Aurora’s team spun off from NEAR, Inc. as a separate entity in July 2021.
Aurora maintains a close collaborative relationship with NEAR helping facilitate its growth, alongside Ethereum. Aurora CEO Alex Shevchenko led Ethereum-related initiatives at NEAR, Inc.
CTO Arto Bendiken is an entrepreneur and prolific open-source author with more than 20 years of professional software engineering experience.
The Aurora team also includes Frank Braun, who has over 20 years of experience in building complex software systems; Joshua J. Bouw, heralded as “The Godfather of Proof of Stake” for his early role in the development of Proof of Stake consensus mechanisms; and Marcelo Fornet, builder of the networking layer at NEAR Protocol.
The full list of Aurora team members can be found here.
Why is there a focus on Ethereum? Please, can you tell us your reasons for this?
While Bitcoin is a gen1 blockchain and Etehreum is a gen2 blockchain, NEAR is a gen3 blockchain, which is focused on solving the issue known from the first day of the Bitcoin whitepaper: scalability.
NEAR deeply honor all the achievements in the blockchain industry made prior to NEAR’s existence and would like to help to solve the scalability issue for the whole blockchain ecosystem.
How will the NEAR-Ethereum integration via Aurora be critical to the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies and their allied technologies?
Ethereum is the most developed ecosystem that has already brought to the world DeFi, NFTs, Gaming and other use cases.
Today we have millions of people using services built on top of Ethereum.
Aurora gives an ability to bring the same use cases and new ones to billions.
With low transaction fees and ability to implement flexible fee schemes, where users are not paying per transaction; with the confirmation times for actions that are the same as for web2 applications, Aurora makes web3 world convenient and familiar to everybody.
Please, can you tell us about the Ethereum projects that want to launch on Aurora? What’s giving them the drive to do so?
The main driver for the projects is an ability to expand their market.
With Aurora they now can finally target the long tail of retail customers which is impossible on Ethereum mainnet at the moment.
And, importantly, projects don’t need to change anything in their code: the execution environment and the base token is the same.
There’s a long list of the projects that will launch on Aurora soon, so follow the announcements.
At this point I can only say that probably 80% of the Ethereum projects that you know are working on the integration with Aurora.
What major contributions have been made by the Aurora team made to the Ethereum Virtual Machine? Please can you tell us more about this?
We are contributing to the SputnikVM, which is the Rust implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine, initially developed by Parity.
This is a very solid basement that we use in our project and we love giving back: all the updates, including London hardfork support, that we develop for ourselves, we push in the upstream.
We are considering giving the retrospective and forward-looking grants to the teams that are working on Ethereum 1.0.
Are we expecting any major announcements from you guys this year? Please can you tell us more about them?
We have a plan to deliver at least one major announcement about Aurora every week for multiple months ahead.
These include project launches, Aurora updates and the updates from the AuroraDAO (obviously, these are fully dependent on the voting of DAO members).
As you might know, we already started the integration with Etherscan and we expect it to be finished this year. Aurora team has a culture of relentless delivery, so you won’t be left without the news.
How can developers within the Ethereum or NEAR ecosystems onboard to Aurora? What steps do they have to follow?
The simple answer is to go to the Aurora documentation.
However, if you’re an Ethereum developer, then you can think of Aurora as an Ethereum testnet: it is a separate network with separate RPC nodes and some different preferences (chain ID, etc.). A
ll the rest is absolutely the same.
The onboarding is extremely simple and would take 10 minutes.
What steps has Aurora made to enable developers to scale their projects?
NEAR blockchain is a great piece of technology focused on scalability.
Aurora provides the means to Ethereum developers to use this technology without the necessity to learn new execution environments or programming languages.
Aurora allows to simply switch the engine for the smart contracts from Ethereum to NEAR to achieve better scalability and performance.