The public blockchain sector grew from less than a few million dollars in the last decade to a $1 trillion industry. However, one thing that the space has yet to solve is a decentralized and secure interoperable solution.
Let’s take Ethereum (ETH) to Bitcoin (BTC), the largest blockchain network, for example. Till today, centralized exchanges are the only viable solution for shifting from one chain to another.
A centralized solution provider, BitGo, provides the largest pool of liquidity for Ethereum users to gain BTC exposure via Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC). The BitGo IOU accounts for over 93.6% of the Bitcoin bridged to Ethereum. Users must rely on BitGo partner platforms like centralized exchanges or CoinList to exchange BTC and WBTC.
The dominance of WBTC exposes it to evident centralization and regulatory risks. RenBTC, a platform managed by Alameda Research, dissolved in December after FTX’s collapse, and the same might happen with BitGo. The recent regulatory crackdown on Paxos for issuing a USD-backed token, BUSD, could also eventually bring services like BitGo into the U.S. SEC’s crosshairs.
The interoperability between smart contract platforms and other application-specific blockchains must also be developed. Sidechains and rollups in Polygon (MATIC), Arbitrum and Optimism comprise 90% of the cross-chain bridge volume from Ethereum. Near’s (NEAR) Rainbow and Fantom (FTM) bridges are the only independent blockchains with a notable total value locked (TVL) on bridges with Ethereum.
Several major crypto projects, such as Polkadot (DOT) and Cosmos (ATOM), implemented modularity from the ground up to build a secure and scalable cross-chain platform, with the ultimate goal being to establish an interoperable “network of networks.” However, Cosmos has yet to attract sufficient liquidity to its ecosystem, and Polkadot continues to stay in development.
The issue from bridge centralization
The 2021 hype cycle witnessed the emergence of a “multichain future” where various blockchain host specific functions like but are joined together through interoperable solutions. The first generation of bridges was highly primitive and centralized, eventually making them hot targets for exploits.
The next generation of interoperable solutions operate as separate blockchains to include decentralization and enhance security. These include intermediate transfer tokens like Thorchain’s RUNE. However, the daily volume…
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