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|4 Curve Finance
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|5 Kyber Network
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|8 Beefy Finance
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Aurora is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) built on top of the high-performance NEAR layer-1 blockchain. This solution enables Ethereum ecosystem application developers to migrate their applications to a scalable and secure platform that also offers lower transaction costs for its users. In this way, the Aurora network provides the familiar Ethereum development experience, but with the speed and scalability of Layer-2 solutions.
Although Aurora operates as an independent organization, the project was initially created by members of the NEAR team, including CEO Alex Shevchenko (who manages various Ethereum-related projects at NEAR). In 2021, the Aurora team raised $12 million to expand the network. The funding round was led by Pantera Capital, and the total number of investors was more than 100. Aurora is backed by leading venture capitalists such as Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, and Alameda Research.
Aurora is an EVM, essentially implemented as a smart contract on Near. Thus, Aurora, functioning as a smart contract, does not need a separate set of validators because it is secured the same way as any other Near contract. The set of validators, consensus mechanism, data storage methods and any other tasks performed by the blockchain, — are all inherited by Aurora from Near Protocol.
EVM Aurora makes it compatible with Metamask and allows users to pay for gas in ETH. It also enables developers to work with familiar tools like Truffle and Hardhat for their smart contracts written in Solidity. However, the execution of smart contracts takes place on Near.
An important difference from other EVM-enabled solutions is that on Aurora, the proprietary asset is ETH, which is used to pay for gas. But as the primary native asset of the Near blockchain is the NEAR coin, Aurora needs to ensure compatibility between Near and Ethereum by using relayers. These relayers encapsulate EVM transactions into NEAR transactions, submitting them on-chain and returning the transaction result.
The transaction process is as follows. The user signs the Ethereum transaction (e.g., using Metamask) and sends it to the RPC (Remote Procedure Call). RPC encapsulates the transaction into a Near transaction and submits it to Aurora's Near contract. The Aurora engine contract parses the transaction and executes it, calculating gas in ETH, which is paid by the RPC for the transaction. Thus, NEAR is used to pay for gas (by the relayer) to execute the contract on Near, with the relayers receiving ETH from the Aurora user.
The process of launching relayers to run Aurora is subsidized by RPC Aurora Labs, which makes the cost of transactions relatively low (until not long ago, they were completely free).
From the above, it follows that all of the calculations, data availability, and execution of smart contacts happens on Near. That makes Aurora stand out from classic layer-2 Ethereum solutions, because all the economic value of Aurora ultimately goes into the NEAR coin, not ETH.
An important part of Aurora's infrastructure is the trustless Rainbow Bridge, which allows tokens to be transferred from Ethereum to Aurora. The critical nuance that defines the importance of Rainbow Bridge is that before tokens can be created on Aurora, they must be minted on Ethereum. It follows that Aurora's asset contracts are on Ethereum, protected by Rainbow Bridge. Therefore, ETH on Aurora is the same as ETH on Ethereum, and USDC on Aurora is the same as USDC on Ethereum.
Since Aurora is designed to be fully compatible with Ethereum, to use Aurora, a user simply adds the network to an Aurora wallet such as Metamask or Coin98 Wallet or other popular wallets and connects to the desired platform to interact with it. The user needs to have a small amount of ETH in their wallet, because Aurora’s fees paid in ETH are just a few cents.
If a user needs to transfer ETH or any other token from the Ethereum network to Aurora, they can use Rainbow Bridge by connecting Metamask and paying a small fee in ETH.
Overall, the end-user experience with Aurora is similar to any other EVM-enabled network, except that the amount of commission here is negligible.
AURORA tokens can be staked through a special application called “Aurora+”. In addition to APY, Aurora+ users who stake AURORA tokens are eligible to receive rewards from other projects in the Aurora ecosystem, as well as to participate in the governance of the Aurora protocol through AuroraDAO.
The native Aurora token is the AURORA token of the same name. The token is used for staking, governance, and rewarding voters.
The total supply equals $1 billion. About half of the tokens (48%) are unallocated. The remaining tokens have the following distribution: 20% — community treasury; 18% — Aurora Labs; 9% — private investors; 3% — validator Incentives; 2% — early contributors.
One of the main future uses of the token will be on the Jet platform, where AURORA owners will vote on the protocols that need funding. Approved projects will receive AURORA from the DAO treasury, and possibly will receive NEAR from the Near Foundation and Proximity Labs. So, as the Aurora team states, they want to become a "Kickstarter" for the ecosystem, and 20% of the token offering has been set aside for this purpose.
At the time of writing, the mechanism for giving value to the token has not yet been worked out yet. According to Aurora's plans, in the future there may be Rainbow Bridge transfer fees in AURORA, and fees for speeding up transactions. There also will be farming locked funds in the Rainbow Bridge. The simplest value accrual method, however, may be the Aurora Labs RPC. Aurora subsidizes NEAR fees for users, but in the future could make a small fee for handling the service.
Although Aurora Labs operates as an independent organization, the project was created by the NEAR team, which consists of experienced professionals. Among them: Aurora Labs CEO Alex Shevchenko, an entrepreneur, blockchain enthusiast since 2015, developer of Bitfury's Exonum and a strong advocate of blockchain scaling solutions; CTO Arto Bendiken, an entrepreneur, open-source author with more than 20 years of professional software development experience, working with organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the US Navy Space, and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR); the Aurora Labs Engine team leader Joshua J. Bouw, who has more than ten years of experience in software development and creating an open-source ecosystem.
As of the time of this writing, the Aurora ecosystem is still in an early stage of development. The first projects launched on Aurora were Trisolaris (a fork of Sushiswap), as well as the Bastion and Aurigami lending protocols. Thanks to the Near ecosystem fund of over $800 million, as well as AURORA DAO incentives, the Aurora ecosystem now includes a wide range of platforms, consisting of decentralized exchanges, startup platforms and cross-chain bridges. Aurora's biggest partners include Curve, DODO, The Graph, Flux, Coin98 Wallet, Covalent, and others.
There’s no public roadmap shared by the Aurora team.
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