Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy)

By bengy | Idle Musings | 1 May 2022


Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

I've mentioned it quite a bit, but one of the missing infrastructure pieces for cryptocurrencies and blockchains is privacy. Many of the existing blockchains have been developed with openness and transparency first and foremost... but these are not necessarily great things to have for a fungible currency. There are a few (Monero and ZCash) that are built as privacy first currencies, but they suffer from the lack of smart contracts that have allowed for such an explosion in Ethereum and other EVM dApps.... and these vast dApp use cases are where we will see most of the user adoption and interesting applications of distributed ledgers.

There are a number of other projects that are also offering privacy as a service, but these are mostly existing on other blockchains and are not backed by the security of the Ethereum mainnet. So, it is with some interest that I heard the news of Aztec Network launching as a L2 on Ethereum.

 

Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

So, what does Aztec bring to the table that isn't already provided by existing L2s... well, the answer is pretty obvious, privacy in addition to scalability... built upon zero-knowledge proofs (PLONK/SNARK).

At the moment, they have a working dApp where you can bridge across ETH, DAI and renBTC from Ethereum mainnet to exchange for tokenised zk versions of the same. From there you can send on L2 and return back to mainnet shielded completely by the zero-knowledge proofs that hide your transaction details from prying eyes.

 

Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

So... lets have a look around and test out the first dApp to operate on Aztec Network. zk.money is the bridging dApp that connects the L2 and Ethereum mainnet, and it also handles the L2 transactions that take place between accounts on the L2.

 

Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

To start off with, you will need to sign a few proofs to set up your L2 account. Your account will be attached to a L2 username that is user chosen, and to prevent mass spamming of network usernames, choosing a username requires that at least 0.01 ETH is bridged to the L2. There are a few proofs to sign, but only a single actual bridging transaction that is required... so, nothing too onerous. From memory, the total ETH fee was quite low for the paid (non-signing) transaction... on the order of 5 USD at today's prices. I must have gotten lucky during a bit of a Ethereum usage lull. I guess it was in the evening and on the weekend... I hadn't really thought about it, I just had some time before a concert to nerd out and try out some thing!

 

Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

Bridging over was seamless and pretty easy.... it was a little trickier coming up with a username, I probably could have just used a random generator to come up with something, but I think the point is to have a fairly easy to remember one for ease of usage, but then have the balances and transactions shielded by the network. Definitely a step up in terms of user experience! Very akin to the usage of ENS domains.

One little snag is the fact that it takes bridged assets about 6 hours to be ready to use on the L2 in the form of zkETH (the bridged version of ETH). That could be a little unpleasant if you want to use it immediately... on the other hand, once it is there, then it is more than easy enough to use. But it means that you need to plan a little bit ahead to keep that zk balance funded and ready to use!

 

Playing around on Aztec Network (Ethereum Privacy).png

 

At the moment, the ability to send ETH from user to user and wallet to wallet without leaving traces of the transaction is pretty cool... but by itself, it isn't that useful. Where things are starting to become interesting is the release of Aztec Connect... a set of tools that allows Ethereum DeFi protocols to harness Aztec's rollup... which means that DeFi transactions on the mainnet can be done cheaply and PRIVATELY! Wow... I'm really looking forward to this being rolled out to as many DeFi protocols as possible... I'm hoping that some of the big players are looking at this... and given that there was a favourable interest tweet from Vitalik, it would be hard to not think that these privacy tools aren't on the radar of all the major DeFi dApps!

So... not huge amount of things to do at the moment... but the potential is definitely there, and the need for privacy is definitely unmet at the moment. Could this be the L2 that solves both scalability AND privacy?

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bengy
bengy

I am a Musician (Violinist/Violist) specialising in Early Music living in The Netherlands. I have a background in Mathematics and Physics due to an earlier tertiary level study... and so, I'm still quite interested in Science and Technology related stuff!


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