UMA’s Across Launches, Starts Token Incentive Program: Interview With Founder Hart Lambur At EthCC 5

Hart Lambur, the founder of Openfolio and UMA, sat down with Benzinga to discuss the latest developments in DeFi at EthCC 5 in Paris.

Most notable was the undergoing deployment of the cross-chain bridge Across that utilizes UMA’s Optimistic Oracle. The Across referral program had just launched, with Lambur saying that the program had been a massive success just two days after.

Building Blocks: Lambur shared how he got to the position he is in today, and what the transition from traditional finance to decentralized finance was like.

“I learned a really interesting set of skills from 2005 to 2013 at Goldman Sachs, and then I left to start this wealth tech business called Openfolio, which is something that I was excited to do,” he said.

“The desire here was to use individual financial data to help our users make better investment decisions. It’s actually where I crossed paths with Benzinga back in late 2014, pretty long ago. [Openfolio] got acquired by an asset manager in 2017. And it gave me time to go full time into DeFi starting early 2018.”


Lambur was at his trading desk when the financial markets fell apart in 2008. He has since dedicated much of his time to building financial tools that bring users more safety and clarity, taking risks away from singular points of failure.

Lambur gave an overview of how UMA works, as well as how it is different from the popular oracle solution, Chainlink.

“UMA is an optimistic oracle. What does that mean? It’s a system to get arbitrary data, any bit of publicly verifiable data onto a blockchain in a trustless and decentralized way,” he said.

“Chainlink is a good example of a commonly known oracle out there and it functions as an oracle that pushes data to a blockchain, and really pushes price data. So, like the price of Ethereum or the price of Bitcoin, which is kind of like a relatively limited set of frequently requested data types.”

“The Optimistic Oracle is a very different design,” Lambur added, “with very different use cases where you can ask it any arbitrary question that’s publicly verifiable and it can answer this long tail of data. So for example, we can use our Optimistic Oracle to do sports betting or prediction markets. Who won an election is something that Oracle can easily answer because we can ask it that question.”

Across Update: Lambur went on to explain what the UMA team was up to at EthCC 5: while it was simply to reconnect with friends in the ecosystem, Hart was also sharing updates on Across, the chain bridge powered by UMA.

“One of the things that we launched, released two days ago, was a referral program for Across. Across is this cross-chain bridge that uses the Optimistic Oracle, so it’s like an optimistic bridge and it functions remarkably well. I’m biased, but our fees are lower, our speeds are better and we have great security models,” he said. 

“The V2 protocol launched about seven or eight weeks ago. A referral program launched two days ago. And this referral program was a pretty interesting way where you can refer users and earn the Across token, which doesn’t yet exist.”

Lambur added: “This referral program has been remarkably successful in the first 48 hours. It’s almost like a bit of a riff on how airdrops work, where instead of doing some action and getting dropped tokens, if you refer users to the bridge and they use them, or if you use the bridge yourself, you are earning a portion of the fees you pay to the bridge. You’re earning those back in Across tokens.

“And so people are incentivized to use the bridge to earn these Across tokens that don’t exist yet. And so it’s been this kind of bridge to earn our tokens that seems to have been working pretty well.”

As the world continues to upload real-world data on-chain, UMA aims to push the transition along in a safe and transparent way. Few are better inclined to lead this charge than Hart Lambur.