Since the advent of blockchain technology,thanks to the breakthrough with bitcoin,many blockchain platforms have arised,so also have this technology have utility in many sectors,prominent among them are non fungible tokens(for the creator economy),decentralized finance[DeFi(lending,borrowing,trading,liquidity provisioning etc).
Ethereum has predominantly led the pack of development but all that is changing,as more and more developers and users are going multichain,now developers prefer to develop the same dapp and put it on multiple blockchains and leave it up to the users which blockchain they wish to connect from.
The future will be multichain but to achieve its through potential,it needs to cross-chain. Different blockchains offer different environments that cater to different needs,we have the likes of Bitcoin(that acts as a store of value), Ethereum(a global supercomputer that power dApps),IOTA,EOS,NEO,COSMOS,POLKADOT,AVAX etc all offer different use cases.
Blockchains in their form are like cities or communities,imagine the following scenario : here are two cities CityA and CityB, CityA is cut off from other cities(they have no bridges that link them to other cities,there have no way to communicate with inhabit of other cities,they can’t import or export goods,services and expatriates),CityB on the other hand is open,has bridges and roads that connect it to several cities,have working communication channels with other cities and can import or export goods,services and expatriates). Here is a question,which among these cities will experience more growth and development over the course of their lifetime.
Some attempts at bridging
Today,many blockchain platforms,Dapp developers and end users are like the citizens of CityA,they are trapped,they can’t do much and at such,they are limited in actualizing what is truly possible.
Before now,many attempts have been made at bridging different networks and making them interoperable but we will briefly examine them and their drawbacks.
Centralized options : They include centralized exchanges and swap services that enable users swap one asset for the other. The future of decentralized finance cannot be built on centralized solutions,such foundations are bound to fail,this attempt is not ideal due to certain factors like regulations,security(hacks) and centralization(power in the hands of a few).
Interoperability hubs : Ethereum hosts multi dapps of different use cases and computing requirements on a single platform,while this is great for composability and internal interoperability between dapps on Ethereum,these dapps suffer from some problems like high gas costs,slow transactions etc. So dappX with 1000 users is competing for computing resources with dappY of 1 million users,dappX users are constrained to pay same fees as those of dappY and also been slowed down as well.
To solve this,many attempts have been made to create hubs,an example is the Cosmos Hub,any group of developers can build a chain with the cosmos SDK that suits their need and their chain can easily bridge and interconnect with other chains built with the cosmos SDK,same is the same with Polkadot and its parachains,AVAX and its subnets but these attempts have some challenges,one mainly which is it’s hard to connect it to other chains built with other technologies.
Pairwise bridges and wrapped assets : One can use bridges to connect assets from one chain to the other,a some examples include the Mosaic bridge,Celer bridge,Hop protocol but they are limited in the chains they support and the assets they support which is primarily due to the engineering work needed to do such.
Enter Axelar Network
The co-founder of Axelar Network was also a co-founder at Algorand,so the team is pretty suited to deliver this great solution.
Axelar offers plug and play integration for blockchain platforms,no need to do heavy engineering inorder to make your platform interoperable
Like it’s easy for browsers to easy discover and read addresses across the internet,Axelar is able to easily detect which chains a particular address belongs to,thus it’s able to deliver effective cross-chain routing
For chains,dapps leveraging Axelar Network,they need not worry about issues that may arise with upgrades,an upgrade on chain A or dapp A will not affect other chains or dapps.
It also offers a uniform language for dapps to easily connect to other dapps,thereby lock,unlock, transfer assets and communicate.
At the core of Axelar Network are two principal protocols,the cross-chain gateway protocol(your blockchain need not speak any particular language,CGP enables chains to connect autonomously and routing among them.
Secondly,it’s the Cross-Chain Transfer protocol,dapp developers can connect their dapps on a particular to other dapps on other chains and perform cross-chain requests like locking,unlocking,transfer of assets or even trigger complex smart contracts.
Axelar network consists of a network(to bridge blockchains),protocols,cross-chain tools and APIs for dapp users to use .
To design a system as Axelar requires some consideration
Decentralization : For axelar to be effective,it has to be highly decentralized(anyone should be able to join the network as a validator or delegate to validators, anyone should also be able to put forth governance proposals as well as vote on governance proposals).
Incentives : The incentives for good behaviour and slashing for bad behaviour are in place,it uses a DPOS(delegated proof of stake) consensus algorithm. Nodes have to have a high liveness,ensure they act in the best collective interest of the platform.
Network security : Apart from maximum safety(no one should be able to propose false blocks and steal user assets) and maximum decentralization(anyone should be able to join and leave the network anytime as a validator),Axelar has robust fall back mechanisms,such mechanisms are put in place to mitigate or limit the extent of damage that may occur in the event of security breach or hack on a connected chain until the issue is satisfactorily resolved.
Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol(CGP)
This protocol ensures state synchronization(validators run light clients about the state of different blockchains,they are able to give update about information on a source destination if such info is needed on a destination chain) and asset transfer across chains(one can transfer any digital asset from chainA to chainB etc)
Axelar network benefits the whole ecosystem: blockchain developers,Dapp developers and end users
Blockchain builders : They only need to set up a threshold account on their chain and need not bother about the hassle of interoperability.
Dapp developers : You can build anywhere,you can easily connect to other dapps on other chains
End users : From your wallet,you can use dapps on any chain.