When Solana was first conceived, supporters expected it to usurp Ethereum’s throne as the world’s preeminent smart contract platform. But these days, the Ethereum-killer narrative has given way to a focus on blockchain interoperability.
More than just a buzzword, interoperability is central to a Web3 philosophy committed to the free flow of information and value. It is also the driving force behind an increasingly connected ecosystem of decentralized apps (dApps) and services.
With a headstart of several years, by the time the Solana mainnet launched, Ethereum already benefited from a strong network effect. Today, not only does it boast the most active developer community, but a powerful suite of dev tools and an established user base make Ethereum the go-to choice for most dApp builders.
That being said, the blockchain still has its drawbacks.
Compared to Solana, Ethereum is slow, clunky and expensive. Sidechains and Layer 2s can scale capacity, but each has its trade-offs.
In 2023, rising interest in Solana’s potential has even seen its native token SOL significantly outperform ETH. As Ark Invest CEO Cathie Woods put it recently, “Ether was faster and cheaper than Bitcoin in the day — that’s how we got Ether. Solana is even faster and [more] cost-effective.”
Looking to create an Ethereum-like development environment on Solana, NeonEVM beta-launch occurred earlier this year, allowing Ethereum smart contracts to run on Solana for the first time.
“Right now, Ethereum is the biggest ecosystem in the market,” CTO Andrey Falaleev said in an interview. “But without efficiency, it will not grow – there will be no evolution.”
From a developer’s perspective, NeonEVM approximates the native Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). But the efficiency boost comes from Solana, with its superior transaction speed and lower gas fees.
By creating what Falaleev called “one world of communication,” the new platform allows two otherwise disconnected ecosystems can grow together.
Yet, if interoperability was just a matter of translation, a code compiler like Solang would be sufficient. To realize the full potential of Ethereum compatibility, NeonEVM needs a way to bridge assets from one blockchain to the other.
To port tokens from Ethereum, NeonEVM tapped deBridge. The latter is a decentralized interoperability layer that can transfer data and all manner of different tokens between various blockchains.
The most simple model for cross-chain bridges sees assets locked at one end while minting their wrapped equivalent at the other. But deBridge’s solution is a far more dynamic and general-purpose protocol for cross-chain transport and messaging.
As CEO Alex Smirnov explained to CCN, deBridge “allows any projects or any token holders to bridge any asset from other ecosystems to Neon.” For NeonEVM-based dApps, that means users don’t need to hold the network’s native token – NEON – but can pay gas fees in the transaction token.
Because solutions like NeonEVM and DeBridge increasingly abstract away the moving parts, “users can interact with any new data without the need to think about the underlying infrastructure, and even without the need to think about switching wallets or switching networks,” Smirnov observed.
With Web3 technologies seemingly on the cusp of mainstream adoption, this emerging multichain environment demonstrates the true power of interoperability: its potential to transform the experience of everyday dApp users.