While Blockchain has brought the needed decentralization in almost every field that exists today, there are still some issues that require introspection; hence the need for Blockchain bridges. There is an existing insufficiency that prevents the interoperability of two blockchains. In other words, if a developer builds a DApp on any particular platform, there are limitations to that platform, as the developer cannot leverage the benefits of other different blockchains.
We will briefly discuss what Blockchain bridges are, examples, mode of operation, and their benefits.
Blockchain bridges provide a connection that enables the transfer of tokens or data between different blockchain ecosystems. They also serve as a link for communication and interaction between two blockchain systems. Lack of interoperability is one of the significant challenges of blockchains to date. Thus, blockchain bridges were created to enable a seamless relationship between different systems.
For example, Ethereum’s scalability issue can be resolved if they move to a faster platform, such as EOS. The DApp will then enjoy the benefits of both systems; the smart contract functionality of Ethereum and EOS scalability. In an interoperable blockchain system, tokens, data, information, and smart-contracts can travel between different platforms.
Also, blockchain bridges generally use the mint-and-bum protocol to sustain token supply across all platforms. When the token leaves one blockchain, it is simply burned or locked, then an equivalent token is minted on the opposite Blockchain.
Benefits of Blockchain bridges
As we mentioned earlier, Blockchain bridges help reduce network traffic, especially, on Ethereum by transferring it to other less congested blockchains, thus resolving Ethereum’s scalability issues. Asides resolving the scalability issues, the other blockchain will also gain exposure and adoption by the Ethereum community.
Blockchain bridges also give developers a better user experience, a higher transaction speed, and lower cost. By using the blockchain bridge, developers can execute DApp on Ethereum, and transactions can take place on another blockchain, which will allow the DApp enjoy the best features of both systems.
Also, the scalability challenges of Bitcoin and Ether have made instant payments at the point of sale almost possible. Therefore, Blockchain bridges are necessary for DApps in need of instant settlement for stress-free user experience, such as casino games.
Examples of Blockchain bridges
The Syscoin-Ethereum bridge, which was launched at the beginning of the year, enables a trustless connection between Ethereum and Syscoin’s network. Syscoin provides ERC-20 tokens access to an interactive instant settlement protocol called zero-confirmation directed acyclic graph, which can process over 60,000 transactions per second.
RSK is the second-layer smart contract platform operating on the Bitcoin Blockchain. The RSK token bridge allow assets to travel between RSK and Ethereum, thereby enabling an effective connection between Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Wanchain is also one of the first projects to dominate the interoperability space. However, it launched the fourth version of its main-net in January, bringing the T-Bridge structure. The T-Bridge framework permits the transfer of data and digital assets between blockchains.
Mode of operation of bridges
Just like blockchain, bridges can operate on a spectrum of decentralization. The above-mentioned bridges fall into two categories. They are Federated and Trustless bridges.
A Federated bridge is similar to a private blockchain. It consists of a set of rules for which someone can qualify to be part of the federation that manages bridge transactions. For example, in Wanchain, specialized nodes (storemen) lock tokens on the Ethereum blockchain using secure multiparty computation. While the minting of the equivalent value of tokens takes place on Wanchain, a threshold of storemen must provide a fragment of the security key before a user can move assets back onto Ethereum.
A trustless bridge can operate via a decentralized network of agents. Unlike the federated bridge, anyone can join the trustless system as an agent. And these agents receive rewards to ensure correct bridge transactions. The Syscoin bridge is an example of a trustless bridge. It uses a network of agents that stake Ether and earn fees from bridge transactions. However, if an agent thinks that another is not working in the interest of the network by submitting invalid transactions, they can opt for a challenge. If the challenge is genuine, the challenger wins 3 ETH from the submitter, but if it is not, the challenger loses 3 ETH.
For now, the bridges in operation are still in their early days of adoption. However, bridges are very promising, especially for stablecoins. Tether has had to expand to new networks to keep up with its growth. The company’s CTO, Paolo Ardoino, also disclosed his interest in using bridges for improving the scaling effort. Meanwhile, Syscoin is already in touch with other stablecoin projects that need its bridge.
In all, the current focus on scalability and interoperability will accelerate the adoption of bridges. And they will make up an integral part of blockchain technology in the future.