Will blockchain’s future be Cross-chain or Multichain?
What makes blockchains interoperability possible? Cross-chain bridges and Multichain platforms. What are the pluses and the minuses of both? Read about it in our new blog.
In 2009, there was only one blockchain based on the SHA-256 algorithm. However, as cryptocurrencies developed, so have other blockchains.
There have been many different blockchains developed since 2009, and it is difficult to estimate their exact numbers, but there are currently at least 1000, and their numbers are growing rapidly.
Each blockchain has its so-called language that does not match the language of another blockchain, making it impossible to exchange data between different blockchains. To enable this data exchange, specific systems were developed: Cross-chain bridges and Multichain platforms.
The goal of Cross-chain and Multichain platforms is to make it possible for data and information to travel between several blockchains.
Nevertheless, their approach to reaching this goal is somewhat different.
Let us explain to you the main differences between Cross-chain and Multichain platforms.
Cross-chain platform vs. Multichain platform
Cross-chain enables communication between entirely different blockchains.
The extensive use of blockchain has emphasized specific problems, such as scalability. However, users cannot fully see the potential of blockchain technology and its advantages because all blockchains function separately and are not connected.
Therefore, interoperability is essential for blockchain development. Interaction is one of the problems that Cross-chain platforms aim to solve by connecting blockchains and enabling data transfers through so-called bridges.
The cross-chain platforms are consistent with different blockchains as they aspire to increase correspondence. Whereas in the past, accepting crypto payments from an individual was only possible using an identical blockchain.
So in order to transfer assets across blockchains, you are required to have native tokens supported by that network. If that is not the case, you can exchange your tokens in the required currency, but then you would have to use a third-party mediator, which is another extra step in the process.
Cross-chain technology acts as a bridge that eliminates the need for third-party exchanges.
Advantages of Cross-chain bridges
- Improving the scalability of the bridged blockchains.
With Cross-chain platforms, you can use the speed of several networks and consequently enhance the scalability of the network.
- Transaction speed.
Transactions and data transferring are much faster due to Cross-chain solutions. An example of increased scalability is the Bitcoin lightning network. It uses channels between other users and unites their transactions into a single one that is then sent to the main net as a single transaction without compromising security.
- Bringing interoperability to the table.
In short, because of interoperability, data can be transferred across blockchains that are not compatible.
What makes interoperability so significant?
You've probably often heard the term interoperability mentioned whenever the topic of Cross-chain is raised.
To explain how it works, we will use an example of banks.
Transferring assets from one account to another is possible because of the system's compatibility.
The same cannot be said for blockchains, as every blockchain operates in a unique environment with specific instructions and protocols. However, it is known that because of these limitations, it is impossible for blockchains to exchange data.
This is where cross-chain technology steps in with its interoperability solutions.
Increased traffic on blockchain networks has created lower processing speed, and bridges are meant to ease congestion on crowded blockchains. One more worthy thing to mention is that most of these bridges offer lower fees than, for example, the Ethereum blockchain.
Disadvantages of Cross-chain bridges
Cross-chain bridges are not considered the most secure due to the risk of hacking and therefore need to be exhaustively tested to prevent losses.
To transfer something from one blockchain to another, a Cross-chain bridge has to be built. The same goes for transactions between different combinations of blockchains, and creating a new bridge is a costly undertaking because you need people who are experts in this field, and every expertise costs money.
A Multichain is a collection of parachains and bridges linking existing blockchains to improve services and bypass the restrictions of more traditional technologies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).
Parachains are blockchains connected to Polkadot and Kusama networks. They are compatible and work parallel to those networks, thus the name Parachains.
Examples of such solutions include blockchains like Solana, PolkaDot, and Cosmos.
Cross-chain bridge's security issues are intended to be reduced by Multichain ecosystems (also known as Layer-0 chains), like Cosmos and Polkadot.
The Polkadot is a distributed Multichain network that enables users to transact through several chains simultaneously without switching between networks.
Developers can use it to create their blockchains, or "parachains," on top of the current system.
The Layer-0 chain on which many Layer-1 chains can be created is the Polkadot network. Through the primary Relay Chain of the Polkadot, every parachain is linked to each other. At the center of Polkadot is the Relay chain, which controls security and network consensus maintenance.
Cosmos is a network of blockchains interoperating with each other. The project intends to assist programmers in creating blockchains that can converse and conduct transactions with one another.
Advantages of Multichain platforms
- Solving obstacles of the main blockchain, like congestion and slow transactions.
- Combining the beneficial features of connected chains, such as cheaper transactions and higher speed.
- Multichain platforms also enable interoperability. Users are able to create private blockchains and transfer assets to public blockchains and vice versa.
The intention is to build an internet of blockchains. These blockchains are to interact with other blockchains in the ecosystem while maintaining their independence and speeding up transaction processing.
In his post on Reddit, Vitalik Buterin explained why he thinks that the future of blockchain is precisely Multichain. As he says, cross-chain bridges are not secure enough to transfer assets across chains. In his opinion, the greater the number of transactions through a certain number of chains with different security measures, the greater the possibility of asset compromise.
Transferring assets through blockchains also poses a security risk to the participating networks. Just like the water ripples when you throw a stone in the pond, the same would happen to participating blockchains.
Just like Buterin, Kadan Stadelmann, CTO of Komodo, thinks that Cross-chain bridges are a temporary solution that become more compromising with time and that it will lead to Multichain adoption.
Cross-chain bridges are swift and inexpensive - which might be the reason why the Multichain technology still hasn't seen the light of day.
The future of blockchain
Blockchain technology has come a long way since its inception (when Bitcoin was the only crypto).
Many individuals were skeptical about whether blockchain would develop so fast, but back in 1942, who could've thought that computers would look and function like nowadays? Of course, no one can say what the future holds in store, but one thing is for certain: technology is evolving rapidly, and while it might seem that Cross-chain platforms will be abandoned, the direction we are heading is uncertain.
Hey, you! What do you think?
They say knowledge has power only if you pass it on - we hope our blog post gave you valuable insight.
If you want to share your opinion or learn more about the future of blockchain, feel free to contact us.
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