Anoma, a layer one blockchain in development, wants to help traders move assets across networks with privacy technology and without the need for a base currency.
“For example, you’re able to pay BTC to a friend who wants to receive ETH,” Anoma Network founder Adrian Brink explained in an email. “Under the hood, the protocol handles the exchange automatically and at the best market rate.”
Anoma closed a seed round of $6.75 million earlier this year, the company told CoinDesk exclusively. The round, led by Polychain Capital, included prominent backers Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, FBG Capital, CMS Holdings, Lemniscap, Cygni Labs and Walden Bridge Capital.
The project plans to launch a public testnet in June and looks to stand by not relying on synthetic assets that represent the underlying cryptocurrencies. As outlined in the Anoma white paper, there’s also no need for a layer two.
A bet on interoperability
The fundamental bet Anoma is making, according to Brink, is built around the idea that layer one chains are going to be interoperable with each other – specifically modern chains like Solana, Polkadot and Cosmos that rely on Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT).
Anoma will connect directly (point to point) to such networks via interoperability protocols such as IBC.
For example, the Anoma validator set has an account on Near and the Near validator set has an account on Anoma. When you move 100 DOT (Polkadot’s native token) from Near to Anoma, you move the DOT into the Anoma account on Near; as a result, the Anoma validator set credits you that 100 DOT on Anoma. Brink said you can now transfer and trade it freely on Anoma and later a different user can withdraw the 100 DOT (or a portion of it) back to Near.
Historically, such assets have been siloed on their hometurf, making it unwieldy for investors to quickly tap market opportunities.
When it comes to privacy, Anoma uses a “multi-denomination zero-knowledge transfer circuit,” which enables different types of assets to share one anonymity set. An anonymity set is the set of entities that may have the same attributes, meaning they’re indistinguishable from each other.
According to Brink, Anoma’s multi-asset shielded pool is a specific kind of zero-knowledge circuit that allows for private transfers of arbitrary assets. It provides a unified privacy set for all assets and as such an observer can’t distinguish whether a transfer contained 1 BTC or 1 SOL.
A zero-knowledge circuit is a method by which one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that they know a value X, without conveying any information apart from the fact that they know the value X.
Put simply, it’s a cryptographic technique that allows two parties on the internet to verify information with each other without sharing or exposing underlying data related to this information.
Zero-knowledge circuits are used by projects such as ZCash (for private transfers), Tornado Cash (for building a trustless mixer) and Starkware (for building a fast decentralized exchange).
Open sourcing the code bank and launching the public testnet will go a long way towards determining whether Anoma can deliver on its ambitions.