Cross-chain or blockchain interoperability research could finally be reaping results, with multiple projects launching interoperability protocols this week.
Ontology (ONT), Neo (NEO) and Switcheo have collaborated to launch the “heterogeneous interoperability protocol alliance” Poly Network, while the NEAR project has launched the Rainbow Bridge, connecting NEAR and Ethereum.
Blockchains have long been seen as silos of data with no real ability to interact with any other networks. This has forced developers to choose between blockchains based on their existing ecosystem, their scalability or their fees. Ontology co-founder Andy Ji shared that this is one the reasons behind this new development:
“Cross-chain interoperability is becoming increasingly important as we focus on moving away from a siloed way of working.”
NEAR engineering manager Maksym Zavershynskyi explained that their new protocol will help developers as they no longer are forced to choose between blockchains or solutions that are not the perfect fit. Speaking on behalf of developers, he said, “we want to freely move our assets and data between blockchains, or even better — run our product on several blockchains at the same time and leverage each of them.”
Ontology has already been connected to Ethereum through cross-chain functionality, Ji stated, but now that the Poly Network has been launched, that interaction is now expanded to include NEO, and Cosmos (ATOM):
“Now, through Poly Network, an enterprise leveraging the Ontology blockchain will be able to seamlessly interact with an enterprise leveraging Ethereum, Cosmos, or Neo, helping these platforms overcome challenges to scalability, mainstream adoption, and collaboration.”
Ji went on to explain that one of Poly Network’s core functions will include swapping digital currencies for other tokenized assets, and will soon support the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain too.
This protocol currently only supports transferring ERC-20 tokens to and from Ethereum, but the plan is to add many other features out-of-the-box. NEAR co-founder Alex Skidanov explained that developers can avoid excess fees on Ethereum by transferring “performance or gas-fee critical parts to NEAR while keeping their Ethereum-native user base.” Currently the bridge is running in a test environment.
Many other projects are also trying to solve the interoperability problem. Earlier this year, the Tether (USDT) stablecoin was moved onto the OMG network in an effort to ease the gas burden on Ethereum, with Bitfinex’s CTO paolo Ardoino saying:
“By migrating USDT value transfers to the OMG Network, we save costs, drive performance improvements and relieve pressure on the root chain network.”
Thorchain is a cross-chain decentralized liquidity network which allows the transfer of BTC, ETH and USDT, among other cryptocurrencies.
Enjin have also built a bridge for their ERC-1155 token contracts to be read on the Hyperledger blockchain.