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NEARWEEK PERSPECTIVES: AURORA

With new initiatives and projects being constantly birthed into the NEARverse on an almost daily basis, a challenge arises in deciphering the most promising, engaging and idea-driven projects on the NEAR blockchain. Enter NEARWEEK PERSPECTIVES: An ongoing, curated selection of projects throughout the NEARverse, selected purely on the basis of our own subjective merit.

This time, we’re looking towards Project Aurora — an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) that seeks to deliver turn-key solutions for developers that allow them to operate their apps on an Ethereum-compatible, scalable and safe platform with low transaction costs.

We linked up with the CEO of Project Aurora, Alex Shevchenko, to learn more about his background, his thoughts on NEAR and his vision for Project Aurora.

Alex Shevchenko, CEO of AuroraLabs
Alex Shevchenko, CEO of Aurora

Something that holds true for the people who choose to work with blockchain and cryptocurrencies is that they come from an abundance of different backgrounds. In this matter, Alex is no exception: “I got into crypto entirely by accident. I was finishing up my PhD and my university had a vacancy fair. I ended up at a booth that had caught my eye; it was something about immersion coding technology and it happened to be Bit Fury. They told me how they were building a logic data center for mining bitcoins. This was in 2015 and I’d heard very little about Bitcoin then. Noting that I was what some refer to as the classic, extremely eager A-level student, they said the best thing to say to a person like that if you want to get their attention: ‘We have a very complicated test for all applicants and only about 1% actually end up getting the job. You can give it a go if you want but don’t expect much’. So, my mind was basically thinking ‘Okay, challenge accepted. Let’s go!’”. Tracing his paths from there to where he is today, Alex resumes: “I ended up working at Bit Fury for over four years and from there got into NEAR. Illia (Polosukhin, Co-Founder of NEAR) was actually someone that I knew from school, so that’s how the connection came about.”

Blockchain and the open source code revolution

When asked what made him gravitate towards the NEARverse, Alex argues: “I think one of the coolest elements of NEAR, and within the entire blockchain space overall, is something that I also find to be incredibly underestimated: It’s tremendous architecture solution, spending 30% of the gas fees in the execution of a smart contract, i.e. burning 70% because of the protocol nature while the said 30% are deposited into a smart contract. In short, this means that the fee can be withdrawn by the smart contract developer! It is such an underutilized tool right now. It’s so simple, which is what makes it so brilliant, and it brings to the front what the world has been struggling to identify for so long — the economics behind open source.”

Nowhere in the world, claims Alex, is there a single company purely based on open-source tech that has been valued above USD100M: “They’re really struggling to find the means to pay their bills.” Yet, open source will be a revolutionary element, he says: “The concept of open source is so powerful as it allows people to see what is happening and put their trust in the code. This missing piece of monetization, being how to ensure that the developers behind the tools are paid fairly, has risen within the blockchain, making the idea of spending a portion of gas fees on smart contract developers a truly brilliant solution.” Summing it up, Alex concludes: “Developers can develop contracts, deploy their open-source onto the blockchain and monetize it from there. Then, the smart contract becomes a public good with developers getting paid as more users use their work. It is such an amazing tool that I hope, and believe, will become incredibly impactful in the near future.”

Aurora, the ETH gateway to NEAR

Zoning in on the role of Aurora in the blockchain universe, Alex finds the project to be a solid test for scalability on the NEAR blockchain, testing its robustness and composability. “Project Aurora lowers the entry barrier for any app that is moving from ETH to NEAR: First, they can deploy on Aurora, offering them a familiar environment in which they can reuse their smart contract and move their assets. From there, they can step outside of Aurora into the wider NEARverse. A clever thing here is that you don’t need to rewrite all of your smart contract to do this and that you’ll be able to run the app directly on the NEAR ecosystem. This is done through a small, consecutive step as everything has already been deployed on Aurora. In short, it’s a nice onboarding tool to the NEAR blockchain for all existing ETH blockchain developers and projects”, he says.

Alex’s passion for his work is evident. After having laid the outlines for Aurora out, he delves into the bridge specifics of the project: “Our Rainbow Bridge is that of a generic one. Its biggest use case is obviously tokens at the moment and we’ve moved more than $100M worth of tokens via said bridge since the fall of 2021. However, there are so many more things that we’re able to bridge! Today, any smart contract on NEAR can read any state from the ETH blockchain, meaning that if something is saved on ETH, you’ll be able to read it and use it on NEAR. Adding to that, we’re in the midst of finalizing a non-fungible token connector so that NFT ERC-721 will also be able to be bridged. One of the most important things to note here is that it is entirely extensible, allowing for anyone to call a connector and bridge anything that this project or person wants!”, he elaborates.

Stepping into a more holistic point-of-view to round our conversation off, we ask Alex to boil his thoughts on why NEAR is the right solution down to the very essence: “What NEAR brings as a third-generation blockchain is all of the existing elements of the blockchain alongside its additional features and value that is built into how you transact your value, created to be able to do anything with the valuable items that you possess. NEAR brings these features to the whole world through its scalability. In my opinion, this is an extremely important step for the adoption of blockchain technology. If you seek to deliver your product to the masses and want to offer it to users across the globe, serving millions and even billions of users, then you must do this: Go to NEAR and build your solutions on top of it,” he ends.

About Aurora

Aurora is an EVM, (Ethereum Virtual Machine) created by the team at the NEAR Protocol, delivering a turn-key solution for developers to operate their apps on an Ethereum-compatible, high-throughput, scalable and future-safe platform, with low transaction costs for their users.

About NEAR

NEAR is a high-performance blockchain that is designed to be super-fast, incredibly secure, and infinitely scalable. NEAR’s vision is to create a network that enables people to re-imagine finance, creativity and community in new and inclusive ways.

NEAR is built by an award-winning team of engineers and entrepreneurs to be simple to use, inclusive and good for the environment. NEAR is backed by top VCs such as A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Blockchain.com, and Baidu Ventures.

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