To put this in perspective, think of how you can use your Visa to pay for your MasterCard bills; or how PayPal can pay for all your online purchases no matter where you’re buying from. Different systems with different protocols yet transactions are fast and seamless. That’s because interoperability has always kept the financial system in place long before cryptocurrency was a thing. As blockchain technology becomes more prominent and not just for crypto, solutions like cross-chain bridges are a big step towards normalization. These blockchains mint different coins and operate on different sets of rules; the bridge serves as a neutral zone so users can smoothly switch between one and the other.
Rather, the amount of BTC you want to transfer gets locked in a smart contract while you gain access to an equal amount of ETH. When you want to convert back to BTC, the ETH you had or whatever’s left of it will get burned and an equal amount of BTC goes back to your wallet. A blockchain bridge is a connection that allows the transfer of tokens and/or arbitrary data from one chain to another.
But as the number of blockchain networks continues to grow, they remain largely cut off from one-another, like islands with their own communities and economies that can’t exchange information or value with the outside world. The siloed nature of today’s blockchain networks goes against the principle of decentralization and re-establishes the Balkanization of the existing centralized web (often called Web 2.0). Once your WTBC is on the Ethereum network, you can use it as you would any other of Ethereum’s tokens. This is because WBTC is essentially an ERC20 token and operates seamlessly with Ethereum’s ecosystem. Your WBTC can buy any other Ethereum-based tokens, including NFTs and other cryptocurrencies that are built on the Ethereum network.
Using a blockchain bridge means you can transform your existing crypto into something capable of operating on other networks from the security and privacy of your own, custodial wallet. Instead the power to operate across networks can be achieved on a decentralized basis. A blockchain bridge solves the problem of inter-network communication by offering a way to connect island-like blockchains with each other.
That can include purchasing various Ethereum tokens or making low-fee payments. As blockchain technology matures, several projects are addressing this problem by building “bridges” between networks. The move to a world where blockchains and systems are interoperable will allow applications to build on each other’s services and strengths. This will likely have a major impact across crypto quality signals a wide range of services, as a new, decentralized and interoperable internet begins to take shape. Rubic Bridge, a decentralized bridge, will be launching soon on Ledger Live. It means Ledger users will have seamless access to decentralized finance from multiple blockchains, including staking, swapping and providing liquidity on some of the most popular platforms in the space.
Is The Blockchain Bridge Safe?
Another parachain bridge may be working in the same way with a different chain, for example, Ethereum. In this way the user could use their BTC to take part in a decentralized finance smart contract on Ethereum via Polkadot. For example, a chain anchoring verifiable credentials on Polkadot could be used for KYC requirements by a gaming company built on Ethereum. Bridges allow applications to be even more decentralized, as they are no longer limited by their network of origin. By contrast, trustless bridges are those in which users don’t have to place trust in a single entity or authority. Rather, the trust is placed in the mathematical truth built into the code.
Darwinia is building a permissionless non-custodial bridge protocol featuring efficient, low cost, decentralization of cross-chain tokens and non-fungible token transfers, as well as other cross-chain operations. Darwinia has already launched its bridge to Ethereum and aims to implement more bridges in the future connecting significant heterogeneous blockchains such as BSC, Tron, Filecoin, etc. For a fluid blockchain future, interoperability is not only important – it’s a necessity. Being able to work and move assets across networks will be a driving force in the digital world, from cryptocurrency networks to Metaverse platforms. People make use of blockchain bridges to wrap other cryptocurrencies to be used on other networks.
Choosing A Bridge
While there are many advantages to using bridges, you can expect some disadvantages. This leads many of us to wonder whether blockchain bridging can be used safely. Blockchain bridges are important because they enable users to move and leverage their digital assets in a more efficient and effective manner, as well as scale up to support growth and change.
Your BTC would get locked up at the bridge and the same amount of Wrapped Bitcoin would be minted on Ethereum’s network . The following are two types of blockchain bridging currently in existence. Naturally, developers are reluctant towards big changes, lest deviating from the decentralizing philosophy. We may be inching toward an innovative and normalized crypto economy, but any progress is better than limiting ourselves to what already exists. Bridges on Polkadot can be implemented in a number of ways — some may be built as a common good public utility for the entire community to make use of, while others may be operated by community teams on a for-profit basis.
Blockchain bridges can do a lot of cool stuff like converting smart contracts and sending data, but the most common utility is token transfer. For example, bitcoin and Ethereum are the two largest cryptocurrency networks and have vastly different rules and protocols. Through a blockchain bridge, bitcoin users can transfer their coins to Ethereum and do with them what they otherwise could not on the bitcoin blockchain.
Layer 2 is built on top of an existing blockchain so while it does improve speed, the lack of interoperability remains. Cross-chain bridges are also independent entities that don’t belong to any blockchain. It’s a huge deal in the world of decentralized finance because it introduces connections between previously isolated networks. The lack of cross-chain interoperability between blockchains is the reason why Bitcoin can’t operate on Ethereum.
If a bridge is custodial, this means that only one centralized entity controls the asset. Bitcoins in all packages are held by BitGo, a centralized digital asset trust. Trust-based bridges are fast and an economical option when you want to transfer a large amount of crypto, but the pool of reliable services is rather small. Venturing to the territory of less-known brands can increase risks, which makes it unattractive to smaller traders. This concept is a lot similar to Layer 2 solutions even though the two systems have different purposes.
Snowfork is building a general-purpose bridge between Ethereum and Polkadot. This will enable ETH, ERC-20 assets and arbitrary data to be transferred from Ethereum to Polkadot. The bridge can be also used for more sophisticated interactions such as cross-chain smart contract calls. Not only does the lack of interaction between blockchain networks limit decentralization, it hinders the advancement and relevance of the technology by placing boundaries around innovation, economic growth and free trade. Generally, applications designed for one network only work within that network, limiting their potential for broader adoption. Let’s start by explaining some terminology – a blockchain bridge is the medium through which your coin or token passes to enter another blockchain.
Whats A Blockchain Bridge?
If you would do this regularly, you’d have to convert bitcoin to ETH on a trading platform, withdraw it to a wallet then deposit again to another exchange. By the time it gets there, you’d have incurred more fees than probably what you planned to do in the first place. Blockchain technology, especially bridging, is still at an early stage of development, so of course there will be some concerns. The following are the concerns exposed when using blockchain bridging. Users can enter the new platform and enjoy the benefits of different blockchains.
Many blockchains lack interoperability, which means that they cannot communicate well with each other alone. Bifrost has developed an EOS network bridge that enables trustless cross-chain asset transfer. Bitfrost is also planning to work on interoperability with EOS contracts. So at first glance, interoperability is a straightforward question of being able to move between different blockchain systems. But on closer inspection, it’s really about the future of this decentralized system. Imagine different banks worked in silos with no integration between any of them.
- A blockchain bridge, otherwise known as a cross-chain bridge, connects two blockchains and allows users to send cryptocurrency from one chain to the other.
- So at first glance, interoperability is a straightforward question of being able to move between different blockchain systems.
- For example, bitcoin and Ethereum are the two largest cryptocurrency networks and have vastly different rules and protocols.
- As blockchain technology matures, several projects are addressing this problem by building “bridges” between networks.
- ChainX, a crypto assets gateway, is planning bridges to several networks and has implemented a BTC-to-Substrate bridge.
- A bridge running as a parachain on Polkadot may have collators monitoring and translating the information between the Polkadot Relay Chain and an external chain, for example, Bitcoin.
Both chains can have different protocols, rules and governance models, but the bridge provides a compatible way to interoperate securely on both sides. Modern blockchain technology has some limitations, especially when Web3 space is developing so rapidly. What follows is the need to provide users with more choices and increase scalability for blockchain developers.
Bridging The Gap Between Blockchains
If you operate with one bank and your friend operates with another, trying to move money across to the other would not only be a headache, but it might be downright impossible. Without interoperability, working across networks would simply fail. For this reason, interoperability – and the lack thereof – is one of the biggest problems blockchains are facing at the moment.
This article is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. It is important to do your own research and analysis before making any material decisions related to any of the products or services described. This article is not intended as, and shall not be construed as, financial advice. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s [company’s] own and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinMarketCap. If you want to get your BTC back, you send your WBTC back to the bridge and the BTC you locked in at the bridge is unlocked and comes back to you for use. Decentralization has always been a defining factor of blockchain, which also makes it a priority over other operative improvements, such as scalability.
Building the future of an open, decentralized web (Web 3.0) requires a spirit of open collaboration and interoperability, with teams across the blockchain space working together to bring about a new paradigm. Blockchain bridges provide a promising way to move beyond the Balkanization of blockchain networks in an effort to promote greater innovation, user adoption and technological relevance. By enabling different blockchain protocols to work together, bridges can help move us toward the next-generation decentralized web, ending the relevance of powerful centralized mediators that don’t have users’ interests in mind. But Polkadot also allows parachains and external networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum to interoperate via bridges.
Like any physical bridge, a blockchain bridge acts as the missing link between two blockchain ecosystems, making the transfer of information, data and tokens across them fairly easy. Users need to give up control of their coins if they wish to convert them to other crypto, essentially trusting it in the hands of someone else. If you’ve ever seen a wrapped token, such as wBTC, it’s the result of this process. The idea here is that they take your BTC and “wrap” it in an ERC-20 contract, giving it the functionality of an Ethereum token. A bridge running as a parachain on Polkadot may have collators monitoring and translating the information between the Polkadot Relay Chain and an external chain, for example, Bitcoin.
The cooperation between different blockchains allows its users to have more choices. Cross-chain message passing Several bridges have already been built or are in development in the testnet stage for the Polkadot ecosystem. You can also use it on projects https://xcritical.com/ and platforms that are built on Ethereum, which opens the door for you to explore DeFi platforms without having to go through the process of exchanging. If you want to use Bitcoin on Ethereum’s blockchain, for example, Wrapped Bitcoin is the way to do it.
What Is Blockchain Bridge?the Complete Guide
In addition to the direction in which bridging allows you to freely send and receive assets, the custodian of bridging also changes, or who controls the assets used to create bridging assets. This platform is popular for having features other than transferring crypto. Once connected to a wallet, you can see all of your balances across different types of coins. However, there are certain blockchains where, if you want to transfer from, you can only go to a specific destination.
Different Types Of Blockchain Bridge
There are decentralized blockchain bridges, or trustless bridges, that intend to make users feel safer when transferring their coins. These solutions operate just like an actual blockchain with individual networks pitching in to validate transactions. If you’re worried about your coins falling in the wrong hands, using a trustless bridge will give you peace of mind in that regard. The problem with decentralized bridges is the service is freelance-based. That can be a liability when incidents happen since they’re only paid to process your request and not to fix them.
One way bridge allows you to send assets only to the target blockchain, but not to return its native blockchain. For example, wrapped bitcoin allows you to transfer bitcoin as ERC-20 token to Ethereum, but you cannot send ETH back to bitcoin blockchain. Blockchain bridges solve this problem by enabling token transfers, smart contracts and data exchange, and other feedback and instructions between two independent platforms. Centrifuge collaborated with ChainSafe to develop a modular, asset-agnostic and multidirectional bridge between Substrate-based blockchains and Ethereum. The ChainBridge allows Centrifuge to move fungible and NFTs between chains. Being open source, ChainBridge also enables other teams within the ecosystem to build bridges to their projects.
In a decentralized blockchain system, this truth is achieved by many computer nodes reaching a common agreement according to the rules written into the software. This removes many of the problems of centralized systems, which are open to corruption or abuse of power, by using transparency and incentivization of widespread participation. In order to keep Ethereum up to demand, rollups has been implemented.