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BuilderTalk #3: How Aura Network is bringing NFT to Web2

Builder Talk is a series that allows builders to share about the projects they are working on and their opinions of the cryptocurrency market. This week’ s Builder Talk episode was accompanied by Mr. Long Nguyen, Chief Technology Officer of Aura Network.
Published Mar 12 2023
Updated Sep 15 2023
8 min read

Aura Network is a layer-1 blockchain aiming to expand the use of NFT across various industries. The protocol allows users to mint, evaluate, track data, and transact NFTs. Its final goal is to help build a solid infrastructure to support various types of assets on the market.

In February, Aura successfully raised $4 million from Hashed and Coin98 Ventures, marking one of the biggest funding rounds of the project. Other angel investors included GuildFi, Istari Ventures, and Republic Crypto. With the new fund, Aura plans to accelerate development and expand the ecosystem by attracting more Web3 projects and products built on the platform. 

The blockchain was founded in November 2021 by experts in technology: Mr. Tran Hoang Giang - Founder & CEO of Aura Network and Mr. Tran Dang Hoa - CEO of FIS. Today’s speaker - Mr. Long Nguyen - is Aura's CTO and has had experiences in building consortium blockchain systems for global enterprises since 2018.

‘Crypto isn’t just about blockchain’

In 2018, Mr. Long returned to Vietnam and worked with some friends on a project called Akachain in FPT. Akachain was a blockchain enterprise solution that built dozens of chains internationally, including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan. 3 years later, they realized the crypto market is much bigger than the enterprise blockchain market. 

In 2021, the enterprise blockchain market was $10 billion while crypto was $2,000 billion. At that time, the world was also shaken by the blooming of NFT and DeFi. Therefore, they decided to hand over Akachain and start Aura Network, aiming to be the top layer-1 blockchain for NFT in the Asian market. 

Aura team. Source: Aura Network.

When asked about the term “builder,” Mr. Long regarded builders as people who dedicated themselves to the industry, whether they were developers, users, or speculators. Also, working at Aura gave Mr. Long a chance to talk and interact with anonymous through Discord, Twitter, and Telegram. In myriad ways, innovations connected builders all over the world.

Mr. Long and his colleagues used to work in a fintech company. Through past experience, he believed there should be a transition for people to migrate from Web2 to Web3. Crypto users nowadays work with either centralized exchanges or wallets with key management. These features are not friendly to mass users. 

As a result, Aura wants to gradually apply Web3 narratives to the traditional Web2 services. In the future, they expect to see multiple sectors like finding & development, loyalty systems, and e-commerce interacts directly with blockchain, NFTs, and DeFi protocols. While DeFi is hindered by the regulation in some countries, governments hardly consider a ban or limitation on NFTs. That is why Aura becomes an NFT-centric blockchain.

‘No intention to get users from others’

A bridge to Web3

Mr. Long pointed out that Aura was not the only layer-1 chain with NFT orientation. For example, the Flow blockchain from Dapper Labs was an ecosystem for DApps, NFTs, and decentralized digital assets. Given Flow, he loved the idea that a blockchain revolved around one specific purpose. As this kind of blockchain was optimized for particular purposes, they did not have to deal with hacks and fragmentation within the ecosystems. 

Tran Hoang Giang, CEO of Aura spoke at an event. Source: Aura Network.

Mr. Long also respected and learned from other Cosmos blockchains like Stargate and OmniFlix. According to Aura’s CTO, Stargate had its way to grow its NFT culture. He insisted his team did not attempt to compete with the counterparts because they had a different customer segment. Whereas Stargate targeted Web3 and Cosmos users, Aura wanted to bring more people from Web2 to Web3. 

Aura had a solid ambition: being compatible with anyone and growing an NFT ground for the community. The network was eager to benefit the whole industry. “We don’t care about getting customers from other chains or competing with marketplaces. We learned from them,” he told Coin98.

Alpha leaks

The project spent a year and a half building the software infrastructure for Aura Network. Most of the time, developers worked on block explorers, wallet extensions, and potential integration of an NFT marketplace. Heading the mainnet launch, Aura also focuses on finalizing new products, which will be introduced in the 2023 roadmap.

“We don’t do much on the application development side. [...] Because we’ve prepared everything for the whole year, we are ready to go mainnet where applications can be launched on Aura”, said Mr. Long. 

Regarding rewards for users, there would be an incentive program hosted by an incubation lab. The team would announce its incentive program in a few weeks so that builders who shared the same thesis with Aura would have a chance to earn bonuses.

According to Mr. Long, there were 12 projects in Web3, NFT, and DeFi on Aura Network. Coin98 Super App is one of the two wallets supported on Aura Network from the beginning and helped bring more than 6 million users to the chain.  

In the upcoming days, an NFT marketplace will join the ecosystem. Though not revealing the project’s name, he hinted it came from “good builders that he knew in Vietnam” and they were “the best when it comes to NFT.” He assured this marketplace would be comparable to well-known platforms such as Magic Eden and Blur in terms of innovation.

“We have worked with many partners in games, DeFi protocols, and tokenomic innovation. The roadmap for 2023 will be available around the time we launch the mainnet”, shared Mr. Long.

In the next session, Mr. Long discussed the interchain NFT functionality. With new interchain features, users could transfer NFTs from one chain to another. Mr. Long stated the unique point of Cosmos was that it was a group of 75 sovereign blockchains. People could talk to each other and move NFTs directly across different chains in a decentralized manner.

In 2021, the communication protocol allowed users to transfer only fungible tokens. By February, the new standard on NFT was successfully going into production. Mr. Long hoped developers and protocols would find a way to leverage this new technology in the long run. 

“It opens a lot of innovation space. For now, we can move anything from one chain to another or even beyond the Cosmos ecosystem. It has gone to Polkadot, Impossible Finance, Near, and enterprise blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric,” he added.

Future of Aura Network 

Aura Network will launch the mainnet in the next two weeks. However, Mr. Long said that the Mainnet is just the beginning. The Aura team spent a whole year on infrastructure building and securing the chain. The mainnet is the result and the root of the Aura tree.

From now on, the project moves to the innovation phase, where the applications can be built for the user. Aura will announce the roadmap at the same time as the mainnet launch. This year, many things are coming: real applications, new ways to onboard users, gaming, and many features.

Regarding user experience, Aura wants a better way for users to board the system. For example, when a user gets into crypto, needs portrait crypto, or buys stablecoin from OTC or third-party payments. After that, the user must convert those stablecoins to the native token of the chain he interacts with. So many steps must be taken for new users. 

"What we are trying to do is that users can ignore that process," Mr.Long said.

Mr.Long presents a fee-customized module that allows people to give a grant to others to pay gas fees on behalf of others. For example, an NFT project can grant users the use of project tokens to mint NFT. This will give the user a better experience. Users will not border native token fees anymore.

Aura is working on account abstraction. So, users can pay the gas fee with any token they want or mint NFT with a contract wallet. 

Q&A Sections

Aura Network after mainnet

Are you planning any POAP or NFT drop for active members of the aura network community? 

If you have participated in some of our campaigns in the past, we will airdrop NFT to the top user in the campaign. Time will tell. We know there will be an airdrop for active people working with the Aura network from the beginning. 

We did the IDO in July and have appreciated the community's love since then. But it is a rigorous task; we must do it strategically, not just randomly airdropping NFT. If We do that, the reward will have no meaning. We are trying to learn and analyze economic factors and the mental factors involved in the airdrop. But there will be for sure but not now. 

When Binance? 

That's the goal of any project. Coin98 has an excellent track record and gets listed on Binance. 
People think listing on Binance is a chance for FOMO, pushing for token value. But you must work for that, get more users, and grow the community. If you want us to be on Binance, you must support us. 

We have good tech and a lot of talent not only in Viet Nam but also in SEA to help us to the level of the project listed in Binance. The time will come. 

How can you lower the fee on the chain? 

Since Aura is a sovereign chain, we fully control the economy, tokenomic, and transactions. So, for example, we can subsidize the gas fee for people who hold NFT. If this kind of skin is, we open a lot of design space for DeFi protocol or NFT-related protocol on top of Aura. 

What is the role of native tokens in the Aura Ecosystem?

Nothing too fancy about it. You have to pay the gas fee in the native token. A native token in a chain is a medium for you to accrue all value of every application. The more successful app on Aura, the more value for the token. 

Aura Network - Future of NFT

What is the next trend of NFT?

Music NFT has been for a while. NFTFi maybe. But this is a bear market. Money is leaking out,  not in. We see little hype about the category we have just mentioned. Any project with a new way of doing things in these categories can succeed. 

Are you planning to find more partners to make the Aura Network stronger?

Especially now, there are a lot of big announcements coming from the mainnet. We have been saving those for so long. Even the statement with Hashed is kept for a very long time.
I can not say. I don't even know the schedule of the announcement. 

How does Aura Network help expand NFT adoption in the long run?

Our thesis is growing the local community. We want to grow with local businesses. We are solid in VietNam and SEA countries like Thailand, Indo, and Taiwan. We have presented in Japan and Korea. 

We also have a good connection with enterprises, brands, loyalty systems, and social networks locally. We go to the endpoint to integrate with them. We can transparently work with the payment gateway to use NFT in the traditional system. 

We can ensure an inflow of new users to web3. If you can onboard local users to your chain, you already produce value for those who love crypto.