Twitter Space Recap: Multichain Web3 infrastructure — Create without Limits
In our most recent Twitter Spaces, we invited Amos Zhang (MetaWeb Ventures) to moderate a panel about multichain web3 infrastructure with Illia Polosukhin (NEAR Protocol), Alex Shevchenko (Aurora Labs) and Louis Liu (Octopus Network). Here are the topics covered:
Major achievements of NEAR, Aurora and Octopus in 2022
- NEAR reaching 22m+ accounts with $330m in outside funding
- NEAR launched Nightshade Sharding Phase 1 with over 300 validator seats
- NEAR has over 1000 monthly active developers working on 1000+ projects
- Aurora achieved over $1.5B in TVL at its peak and reaching over 4.6m unique accounts (more than Avalanche)
- Rainbow Bridge sustained multiple hack attempts as one of the few permissionless bridge in blockchain
- Octopus onboarded several appchains, and hosted 4 batches of accelerator with around 250 Web3 projects participating
How NEAR facilitate multichain and interoperability of Web3
- Rainbow Bridge Technical Insight and Future Plans
- Permissionless bridge designed to sustain hacks
- Reducing crosschain transfer of FTs from NEAR to Ethereum from 4–8 hours to seconds
- Improving security, cost of maintenance, and functionality of the Bridge; exploring the use of ZK
- More crosschain use cases to be supported such as NFT transfers, crosschain function calls, oracles, and account lookups
Upcoming plans and priorities for NEAR, Aurora and Octopus
- NEAR launching Nightshade with over 100 shards supporting thousands of validator seats
- NEAR releasing more features to improve user experience such as better cryptography on mobile devices, zero-balance accounts, etc.
- Aurora elevating experience of launching Aurora+ and launching a next generation blockchain wallet to further improve onboarding experience
- Aurora launching solutions for blockchain containers to allow businesses to launch customized solutions, such as permissioned DeFi.
- Octopus launching substrate-IBC and NEAR IBC to break the barriers between NEAR, Cosmos, EVM based chains, Substrate based chains and create a truly secure internet of blockchains, supporting use cases like crosschain of Fungible Tokens, NFTs transfers, crosschain account look up, and more.
You can listen to the full recording here:
What are the major achievements for NEAR and Aurora in 2022?
Alex: 2022 was a very intense year, we experienced ups and downs in the market but we also accomplished a lot for Aurora, we recorded over 3 billion in assets bridged over the Rainbow Bridge between Ethereum, NEAR and Aurora. We experienced several hack attempts in our permissionless bridge, but all attacks were mitigated automatically and cost loss of funds for the attackers. When it comes to adoption, at some point in time Aurora blockchain achieved around 1.5 billion dollars in TVL. We are outperforming Optimism and Avalanche in terms of wallet usage with 4.6 million unique addresses (accounts) created on the Aurora blockchain.
Aurora — A Year In Review
What a year 2022 has been! The crypto industry as a whole has suffered several blows this year that have left many of…
Illia: In 2022, NEAR grew around 5 to 10x in every single dimension, including total accounts, monthly active wallets and projects etc. In 2022, we started regional hubs and moved towards a more decentralized model of capital allocation that involves different ecosystem funds to further grow the ecosystem. We also achieved a much broader user base with the launch of a wide variety of applications such as Sweat Economy (Sweatcoin) and Orderly Network. In September, we launched Nightshade Phase 1 and introduced chunk-only producers, allowing more validators to take part in the NEAR network. We currently have 150 validator slots available so make sure you work with Metapool, LiNEAR, StaderNEAR if you are interested.
Louis: 2022 is a fulfilling year for Octopus. We onboarded several appchains to the Octopus mainnet: Myriad, Atocha, Discovol, Fusotao, all running with a whole-set infrastructure including crosschain bridge, indexer, blockchain explorer and RPC cluster, which are the living evidence that Octopus Network is stable and flexible enough to hatch appchain on-demand.
Octopus community kept expanding in 2022. We hosted 4 batches of accelerator with around 250 Web3 projects participating,and 20 projects won Octopus Accelerator Star Grants among them. Octopus organized Substrate training programs in Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Mexico and Nigeria which benefited more than 200 blockchain developers. Through our accelerator and Substrate training programs, Octopus Network helped grow the appchain developer community around the world.
Octopus Network also set up its on-chain governance organization, Octopus DAO, in 2022. The appchain acceptance voting has been moved to the DAO. In 2023, we will transfer more decision making processes from the core team to Octopus DAO to further decentralize our network.
Octopus Network — 2022 in Review
Even though 2022 clearly created challenges for the Web3 industry, we can’t deny that it was still an amazing year for…
What’s the next step of the Nightshade Sharding roadmap?
Illia: Our short term goal right now is to make sure we can get 100 shards running, in order to showcase the true scalability and prove capacity of sharding to developers and users. The final goal is to move towards Dynamic Sharding when the allocation of contracts to shards is fully dynamic, and we target to see that coming in late 2023 or 2024. In the meanwhile, we are also working on better user interface and features for developers. As for users, we are working on a so-called Zero-balance Account — by changing how the storage model works, we allow accounts with zero balance to exist to make it easy for applications and wallets to create accounts for new users.
At the same time, we are also enabling more integration with cryptography on mobile devices, building really easy ways to onboard new users, such as social login and social recovery.
Amos: With potentially thousands of nodes validating NEAR’s network, the security of NEAR’s mainnet will reach another level. At the same time, this will also increase the number of tokens to be staked and result in a lower amount of liquidity across exchanges over time while creating more demand for the NEAR tokens, which could lead to an increase in NEAR’s token price. This is not an investment advice tho 🙂
What are the upcoming priorities for Aurora?
Alex: The ultimate goal for Aurora is to make blockchain convenient for everyone. Therefore, we want to deliver an even better experience. Aurora+ put forward our major initiative and we will continue to advance it and release the 2nd version of Aurora+ to further elevate users’ experience. We figured that the most complicated piece of blockchain end-users is “cryptocurrency” and its underlying necessities or concepts such as transaction cost, gas cost, traffic congestion on the network etc. With that in mind, we are putting two key directions: 1) Next generation blockchain wallet that is going to work on top of Aurora and NEAR infrastructure, to deliver value straight to users by removing all the complexities associated with blockchain 2) Blockchain containers, a non-existent, brand new package of blockchain scalability solutions to deliver simplicity for businesses and developers, allowing users to launch their own blockchain customized for their needs in a short period of time without sacrificing decentralization.
A Deep Dive into Rainbow Bridge
Amos: Rainbow Bridge is one of the few truly decentralized bridges that’s still yet to be hacked. Can you share more technical insights on the Bridge?
Alex: The core principle of Rainbow Bridge is building a trustless, permissionless protocol for connecting blockchains. Since smart contracts are automated and trustless, anyone can interact with them, including bad actors. If someone tries to submit incorrect info, then it would be challenged by independent watchdogs, who also observe NEAR and Ethereum blockchains. As we can see, Rainbow Bridge hasn’t been successfully hacked and was able to thwart attackers successfully in all the hack attempts. On top of that, the Bridge has also gone through both internal and external audit, with ongoing active monitoring and testing. We also have a very successful bug bounty program where hackers are able to share potential vulnerabilities and the team can react proactively. In the future, we will continue to improve security and cost of maintenance of the Bridge. There are two main things we are now focusing on development. First one is the fast speed solution. Currently, it takes around 4–8 hours for users to transfer assets from NEAR and Aurora to Ethereum. We are working on shortening it to seconds, which is planning to go live this month. The second thing is to continue to improve security, cost of maintenance, and functionality of the Bridge. We are exploring the use of ZK to optimize usage of the Bridge.
Illia: The principle behind rainbow is always opening up new ways to interact with users. Currently it’s predominately used for token transfer, but looking forward we are looking forward to using the bridge for sending messages or NFTs etc. Rainbow Bridge provides the basics of the communication pipeline, and there are plenty opportunities for developers to build different kinds of experiences.
Alex: One of the interesting use cases that we look forward to seeing is to have Chainlink Oracles bridged to NEAR. If this is something you are interested in, please let us know!
An Overview of Octopus and its Priorities for 2023
Amos: Octopus is a substrate-based application chain network built on top of NEAR Protocol. Currently, Octopus is focusing on supporting IBC solutions because the multichain concept is blooming in the space. Why specifically IBC? The crypto space had lots of hacks with crosschain bridges (except for a few solid bridges like NEAR/Aurora’s Rainbow Bridge and security is a rather dynamically developed process. Nothing is 100% secure, and it’s almost like a competition between the hackers and the maintainers of the bridges. With around 50+ chains, IBC is perhaps the largest crosschain open source community and is still growing robustly. The Octopus team has deep expertise in working on crosschain protocols and has been working with Solana, Oasis, Flow and other protocols in their crosschain initiatives via grants. They also received a grant in 2020 from the Interchain Foundation (ICF) to implement Substrate-IBC (Polkadot — Cosmos). The team has completed 7 out of the 8 milestones, and is waiting for another team to complete the last remaining milestone, by which time, IBC and Substrate would be fully connected via Octopus this year.
At the same time, Octopus has also worked on the NEAR-IBC interconnection protocol on the framework level and hopes to complete the first integration by Q2 of this year. So the goal is to break the barriers between NEAR, Cosmos, EVM based chains, and Substrate based chains and create a truly secure internet of blockchains including crosschain of Fungible Tokens, NFTs transfers, crosschain account look up, and many other use cases that Illia and Alex mentioned.
How NEAR Marches towards Mass Adoption
Illia: I believe this is always a two-sided market where we enable both users and developers to use the technology. The core principle for NEAR is to target user and developer-friendly interfaces with easy onboarding by removing the complexities of blockchain. For users, we should make it as simple as possible, and make sure there’s nothing technical when they use Web3 applications. People do not need to know about the tools or any sorts of cryptography. For developers, NEAR allows developers to build anything they want with familiar tools including apps, blockchains or even decentralized frontends easily and seamlessly. Additionally, we will add other functionalities like private data and private shards. As we mature the platform, we will also push out initiatives like Sweatcoin, NEARCloud, and Learn to Earn that enable us to onboard large numbers of general users and developers.
Amos: Sweatcoin has over 100 million users, with millions of monthly active users. This showcases that NEAR as a scalable infra that can support a huge amount of users and transactions. Together with Aurora and Octopus, we witness true scalability and usability of the NEAR ecosystem.
Applications and Specific Use Cases on NEAR
Amos: With the incidents of Luna, FTX and Celcius happening over last year, and currently Binance, as a centralized exchange owns over 80% of market share in the space, many people are raising concerns about centralized exchanges or the blockchain space in general. As an industry player, what’s your point of view and how do you bring a positive change to the space and tackle these market hurdles?
Alex: The fundamental cause of the unfortunate events are generic human problems, and has nothing to do with blockchain. The mentioned companies are operating in the blockchain space, but the core problem for the incidents is caused by the improper unqualified decisions made by the management. From that standpoint, the DeFi vertical is exactly built to prevent this type of event from happening. However, I am not praising DeFi in its current form as the future. There are some additional concerns in the DeFi space that we are facing, for example, compliance on the blockchain is extremely hard, even though it is transparent and traceable. I do believe that in order to move towards mass adoption, we need to combine the best practices of traditional finances with blockchain such as compliance and traceability, or even automatic taxation. In order to do this, we might need to have a separate chain or maybe multiple chains that perform different functions such as KYC/KYB operations. This type of permissioned DeFi chains will be a great step forward to mass adoption and will ensure security. Speaking of that, NEAR’s scalability and Aurora’s container approach will provide the type of user experience that these financial applications will need, and we are extremely ready to host different sorts of applications on NEAR and Aurora.
Amos: Permissioned DeFi is a hot topic discussed among big players in the space. It’s believed that the next wave of bull market and mainstream adoption requires cooperation with existing enterprises such as large banks as well as regulation and compliances.
Illia: For many people, centralized exchanges feel safer because self custody is something unfamiliar to general users. The reality is the decentralized world is lagging behind because we don’t really have easy yet secure measures to protect users. NEAR wallet is the first wallet that offers progressive security. I know someone who recently had all his crypto stolen except NEAR because his private key got exploited except for NEAR. When people are using apps, the wallet should also be able to flag to the users if an app is unsafe. Permissioned and institutional DeFi will ensure users’ security, and this is surely a way to go mainstream.
Alex: Bear market is a great time to be onboarded into blockchain. It’s time for you to understand the core principles of blockchain and start building on NEAR and Aurora. The crypto winter is going to end. It’s an ordinary thing, it’s happened before, so just focus on technology and fundamentals.
Illia: Looking back to 2020, we saw our blockchain launching and lots of infrastructure work around the space. 2021 was the year of basic infrastructure being built out and showing that they work. Everyone got excited and over-leveraged. 2022 was the year unloading that leverage in a dramatic way. 2023 is the year when we will see actual products and true value for users on blockchain based applications. It’s slowly but surely that web3 is bringing better tools and security for users and developers, and this year we will see existing Web2 apps and brands looking beyond the hype to build actual value for users and customers.
Louis: Blockchain infrastructure is still evolving at an astonishing pace. Ethereum was able to remove major optimization obstacles by completing the merge in 2022. NEAR is unleashing the power of sharding by pushing forward Nightshade. The concept of modular blockchains has prompted many researchers and developers to rethink what is the most suitable blockchain architecture to support decentralized applications. When price speculation is no longer the core topic of the crypto world, 2023 will surely belong to builders. We hope both the NEAR ecosystem and Web3 space will make great strides in this year.
Amos: We saw great achievements for NEAR, Aurora and Octopus in 2022. This year, we look forward to a faster Rainbow Bridge and we might see permissioned DeFi take off via Aurora. Very soon, NEAR Protocol will be able to run more than 100 shards with thousands of validators and support more mainstream use cases to demonstrate true scalability and usabilty. Octopus Network will also bring in IBC and a more diverse set of apps and use cases to the NEAR ecosystem. We are in a bear market but no doubt the NEAR ecosystem is growing robustly and will keep building.