What Are Blockchain Bridges & How Do They Work?

Just like the web3 industry, blockchain bridges are still in the early stages of development. On top of it, the community of blockchain developers believes that the best design for a blockchain bridge has not been created yet. In addition, the risks with a blockchain bridge depend on the type and have a different impact on users and the blockchain community. 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. 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.

what is a blockchain bridge and how it works

Many blockchain bridges adopt models that fall between these two approaches. Bridges are touchpoints for everyone in Web3 to transfer assets from one blockchain to another regardless of architecture or consensus mechanisms. Every innovation bears its inherent risk, and crypto bridges are no exception. Most bridges using this method often have staking and farming programs where users can lock their assets into the pool for periodic rewards. Bridges exist to connect blockchains, allowing the transfer of information and tokens between them. Imagine different banks worked in silos with no integration between any of them.

Centralized or Trusted Blockchain Bridge

Custodial bridges require users to place their trust in a central entity to properly and safely operate the system. Users should do extensive research to ensure that this entity is trustworthy. Bridges and atomic swaps are two well-known methods for sending assets across chains. Solana has huge appeal as a layer one chain given the significant throughput it can achieve, with 50,000 transactions per second, compared to Ethereum with just 30. As Solana and its ecosystem have developed the need for bridges quickly emerged.

what is a blockchain bridge and how it works

Blockchain bridges, also known as cross-chain bridges or network bridges, are mechanisms designed to address interoperability issues between blockchains. This is why blockchains cannot automatically connect and function in isolation. Bridges have therefore become an important part of the blockchain business.

What are the best blockchain bridges?

Bidirectional bridges are another example of a blockchain bridge variant, working exactly opposite to the functioning of unidirectional bridges. A bidirectional blockchain bridge helps in ensuring seamless transfer of assets and information between two networks. Therefore, bidirectional bridges serve as a favorable alternative to using two different unidirectional bridges.

what is a blockchain bridge and how it works

Trust-minimized bridges, on the other hand, are non-custodial bridges that rely on smart contracts, algorithms, and economic incentives to safely store cryptoassets. The use of smart contracts leaves you in control of all your locked crypto. However, the security of trust-minimized bridges is as good as its underlying code and incentive structure. Blockchain bridges are meant to address the problem of blockchains operating in silos, thus being unable to communicate with one another. Remember, each blockchain has its own set of rules, protocols, tokens, and smart contracts and therefore is not natively interoperable.

Risk using bridges

When a user redeems their tokens back on chain A, the tokens on chain B are sent to a burn address. Avalanche and Solana L1 are built differently for higher throughput at the expense of decentralization. Each blockchain evolves in a closed environment with different rules and consensus mechanisms. As a result, there is no natural exchange or free transfer of tokens between blockchains.

It’s a huge deal in the world of decentralized finance because it introduces connections between previously isolated networks. Aside from enabling cross-chain transfers, blockchain bridges provide other benefits. They allow users to access new protocols on other chains and enable developers from different blockchain communities to collaborate. In other words, blockchain bridges are a critical component of an interoperable future of the blockchain industry. An atomic swap enables the secure exchange of assets between two different blockchains without the need for a trusted third party.

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Then, you also have Ethereum island, where ERC-20 tokens like ETH and Chainlink exist. With the rising acceptance of crypto assets, the demand for blockchain bridges has grown considerably over the years. The demand for blockchain bridges is projected to increase as the internet shifts toward Web3 and Crypto.

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