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EOS, the blockchain once famously entangled in a protracted dispute with developer Block.one, is now out on its own and making a bid for web3 relevance.
Once at the center of a jaw-dropping $4 billion ICO, EOS has had a major facelift, and since severing ties with Block.one has been managed by the nonprofit EOS Network Foundation DAO led by long-time developer Yves La Rose.
As acknowledged by La Rose himself, it’s been a year since EOS “was on life support, left for dead.” But the past 12 months has seen this sleeping giant finally awaken, with a slew of positive developments positioning it for rapid growth in 2023.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
The EOS narrative was toxic for a number of years, a consequence of its nasty divorce from Block.one. A blow-by-blow account of the head-scratching imbroglio was provided by Wired in an article that went viral last May. But EOS, it’s fair to say, has come out the other side, with a renewed focus on building impactful products that web3 users want and need.
EOS might have missed the lucrative DeFi boom, but it’s clearly positioning itself for the next one, having introduced support for Tether (USDT) in addition to DeFi-centric products like the Yield+ liquidity program and Recover+ insurance layer. It even has its own VC, EOS Network Ventures (ENV), which manages a $100m war chest to invest in web3 protocols.
Perhaps the biggest sign that EOS has reopened for business concerns the EOS Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) that La Rose recently teased was “around the corner.” As the backbone of number-one DeFi network Ethereum, the EVM provides developers with a run-time environment to build dApps and other protocols, executing the smart contracts which all DeFi products rely on. Little wonder, then, that numerous blockchains, from Avalanche and Solana to Polygon and Cardano, have invested heavily in achieving EVM compatibility.
According to La Rose, however, the upcoming EOS EVM is “by far the most performant,” capable of processing over 800 swaps per second – four times faster than Solana. The EOS Network Foundation is set to manage EVM as a public good, running an RPC node to guarantee uptime and offering funding to developers keen to build on the platform. What’s more, the EVM will be powered by the $EOS token. The mainnet is expected to go live in March.
IBC: A Blockchain Bridge Killer?
Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) represents another notable coup for EOS. Considered by many to be the Holy Grail of blockchain, IBC lets two separate blockchains communicate with each other, sharing data about their individual ledgers and thus permitting the transfer of tokens from one to the other. If realized, IBC could make the unstable bridges currently used by traders to ferry tokens across blockchains obsolete overnight. Something likely to be roundly cheered given the four most costly DeFi hacks of 2022 were bridge exploits (Ronin, the BNB Smart Chain bridge, Wormhole, Nomad).
Several blockchain platforms are aggressively pursuing IBS, including Cosmos and Polkadot, and EOS is doing the same via the Antelope IBC soon to launch on the EOS mainnet. Antelope, a community-led protocol that EOS invested $10m in last year, is an open framework for building user-friendly web3 products and services. Backed also by Telos, WAX and the UX Network, Antelope's IBC purports to enable “nearly limitless horizontal scaling for EOS and all other Antelope-powered chains.”
Antelope facilitated the first-ever IBC wrap token transfer between EOS and the UX Network earlier this month, with La Rose remarking that the “EOS IBC era is upon us.” If Antelope does indeed help users move tokens and execute cross-chain functions independently – without having to rely on vulnerable bridge infrastructure operated by permissioned parties – it’s easy to see it taking off. While the Antelope IBC does still use a bridge, it happens at the chain’s base layer rather than via a third party.
There is a certain romance in the idea that EOS could return from the brink and actually shake off the controversy of that ICO, in the process becoming a go-to chain for DeFi users. But it wants to go much further, setting itself a lofty goal of encouraging mass adoption and positioning its technology at the forefront of innovation. Whether it succeeds or not, it’s been an undeniably bright start to the year for a project determinedly fixated on its future.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.