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  • Claudia Campisano

Blockchain Interoperability: a critical analysis


"Blockchain Interoperability: a critical analysis" article's cover

The blockchain industry is constantly evolving, and there are many challenges to be faced with adopting this technology in every sector. Blockchain interoperability is one of these. It promises to be a real game-changer in the frontier of the evolving Web3 landscape.


Every day, blockchain interoperability is a hot topic for the industry that sees more and more developers focus on developing platforms and protocols that can communicate with different blockchains.


This article will explain blockchain interoperability and its current approaches, followed by benefits and challenges.


an example of interoperability between blockchain ecosystems

 

What is blockchain interoperability and why is it a challenge?


Blockchain interoperability refers to the ability of different blockchain networks to communicate and exchange information easily and securely to create a more connected ecosystem.


Interoperability is a significant challenge in the blockchain industry because of the inherent nature of blockchain technology.


In their nature, blockchains are designed to be independent and decentralized. They operate independently with their own rules and protocols. Most protocols are developed to interact with the determined ecosystem, not other networks. This represents a huge obstacle to cross-chain transactions and data sharing.


There is a need to overcome this great barrier, which today represents one of the biggest obstacles towards a shared adoption of the so-called web3.


Worldwide developers have tried to build and adopt interoperable solutions, such as atomic swaps, sidechains, and cross-chain protocols, making different blockchain networks communicate and interact.


However, it is still challenging as it requires high collaboration and coordination among different blockchain communities and a common set of standards and protocols to be established.


 

Current approaches to achieving interoperability in the blockchain industry


Nowadays, there are several approaches to achieving interoperability in the blockchain industry:


Sidechains: this sort of layer 2s are separate compatible blockchains connected to a mainchain, allowing assets and data to be transferred between them. Each sidechain has its consensus mechanism, security parameters, and tokens.


two different blockchains in sidechains: Main chain and Side chain

Atomic Swaps: allow traders to exchange assets across blockchains in a decentralized manner without needing a centralized intermediary. Like cross-chain bridges, they use smart contract technology to enable cross-chain trades that are trustless and decentralized.


Cross-chain bridges and swappers: enable a digital asset owned by a party to be locked on one chain. In contrast, an identical asset is “minted” on another chain and sent to an address owned by the original owner.


Interoperability Hubs are central hubs that act as a bridge between different blockchain networks, allowing them to communicate and exchange assets. (Examples of this are Aion and Wanchain).


Wrapped Tokens: this approach allows users to tokenize assets on one blockchain and then use the tokenized version of that asset on a different blockchain.

the creation of a wrapped token from a token through a smart contract

Oracles fill the informational gap between on-chain and off-chain environments. Smart contracts often require off-chain information to run properly. Oracles connect blockchain’s data with the off-chain world, providing the data they need as a common reference point for separate blockchains.

Connection between real world data and blockchains


There is no one-size-fits-all solution. All these approaches have their advantages and limitations and are still under development and testing to find the best interoperable solution for the industry.


 

The potential benefits and drawbacks of an interoperable blockchain ecosystem


As mentioned above, interoperability is one of the biggest challenges facing the blockchain industry. This is because different blockchain systems have other protocols and technical architecture, making it challenging to communicate with different ones.

Additionally, there may be issues related to security, scalability, and governance that need to be addressed before interoperability can be achieved.


One of the main benefits of an interoperable blockchain ecosystem is the improved efficiency of cross-chain transactions. Blockchain networks operate independently, and most layers 1 are not born with the ability to communicate with each other.


A genuinely interoperable ecosystem would allow for the seamless transfer of assets and data between different blockchains, increasing the speed and security of transactions and bringing innovation to the entire industry.


With an interoperable blockchain ecosystem, new and innovative applications and use cases for blockchain technology would emerge. This increased competition would drive the development of new technologies and lead to more robust and secure blockchain networks.


Another aspect to consider is that an interoperable blockchain ecosystem would also increase blockchain technology's overall adoption and acceptance because users can access a broader range of services and applications, increasing the general utility of the technology.


However, there are also potential drawbacks around the corner. Among these is the possible loss of security and privacy. Read about the top 6 Cross-chain bridge hacks in 2022.


With the ability to easily share data and assets across different blockchains, there is a risk that sensitive information could be leaked or stolen, exposing users and exchanges to a higher risk of hacking and other security breaches, especially in cross-chain wap.


Another fear that terrifies all supporters of decentralization is the potential intensification of centralization in this technology. With the spread of interoperability, many prominent players could dominate the ecosystem, reducing competition and limiting innovation.


 

The future of blockchain interoperability and its potential impact on the industry

Although current approaches are solving the interoperability problem to a small extent, the search for more efficient solutions continues.


One of the key trends in the future of blockchain interoperability is the increased collaboration and coordination among different blockchain communities, developing common standards and protocols that can be used across different blockchain networks to create a more connected and secure ecosystem with less centralization and more competition, which will drive innovation.


Overall, the future of blockchain interoperability is promising. With further research and development, it has the potential to significantly enhance the capabilities of the blockchain industry and create new opportunities for growth and innovation.


cryptocurrencies interacting with eachother

 

Conclusion


A real interoperable blockchain ecosystem has the potential to bring many benefits to the technology, such as increased efficiency, competition, innovation, and acceptance.

On the other side, it has the potential to bring drawbacks such as loss of security and privacy and increased centralization.


The industry is still experimenting with more efficient ways to achieve interoperability, and more research and development are needed to ensure that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.


As more and more industries begin to explore the potential advantages of adopting blockchain technology, there will be a greater need for interoperability solutions that enable different blockchain networks to communicate with each other. Interoperability will drive the development and implementation of better interoperability solutions and help to create a more connected and efficient blockchain ecosystem, building new innovative applications and use cases for this technology.



What is your point of view on the operability of blockchain?

Do you know other approaches that aim to solve this problem?


Keep in touch on Discord and Telegram.

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