Over the past decade, the proliferation of blockchain technology has resulted in hundreds of networks that are unable to talk to each other. With data siloed and developers’ options now extremely limited, the sector has been described as being at a “historical crossroads” — and unless this industry evolves and expands, it’s feared that blockchain will struggle to achieve the same reach and interconnectivity that the internet enjoys.
Interoperability has been one of the hottest phrases in the blockchain lexicon in recent years. Although this cross-chain mentality is encouraging, it could be argued that many of the solutions being touted are a mere sticking plaster, only providing connectivity between a select number of networks.
An everyday consumer would react with incredulity if they were only able to send an email from their Yahoo inbox to someone else with the same domain name. The idea that someone surfing the internet on Google Chrome couldn’t access a website found on the Safari browser is equally unimaginable. Yet this is the situation that the blockchain sector has found itself in — to the extent that convoluted processes have needed to be built to ensure that assets can make their way across blockchains. (One example here could be Wrapped Bitcoin, which involves depending on a centralized intermediary.)
Given how one of blockchain’s main advantages is meant to be its decentralization, there’s a danger that certain workarounds and concepts can move this innovative space away from what it is supposed to be — undercutting its usefulness in the process. But what if any and all blockchain and smart contracts were able to communicate with one another? What if decentralized access to off-chain oracle information could be granted to these platforms? To fix these issues once and for all, the industry may need to take a page out of the book of a technological marvel that many of us take for granted: the internet.
Back in the early 1990s, when going online was still considered a niche activity, the agnostic TCP/IP protocol united all computers and operating systems, opening up a method of communication that is now relied upon by billions of people around the world. Confronted by the current fragmented landscape, there are now calls for an “internet of blockchains” to be created… allowing data to flow freely and without limitations.
This could create a world where any smart contract platform and any blockchain, even one that doesn’t boast this functionality, could start interacting. Developers would have the freedom to mix and match the components that they like best from the myriad platforms out there, building whatever they want without needing to waste time and substantial amounts of money addressing the technical hurdles. Some believe this could even be the silver bullet that mounts a serious threat to centralized app stores, which restrict the freedom of users all while clipping the wings of developers who have to follow an endless list of strict rules — and give up a substantial chunk of their proceeds.
What is the answer?
One solution that is being actively touted right now is XRouter technology, which seeks to deliver the elusive “internet of blockchains” that so many have dreamed of. As well as being agnostic to the myriad networks that now exist, it operates on a free-market basis. In the long term, the goal is to ensure that payments can be made in any cryptocurrency, paving the way for a “social, economic and technological revolution.” The technology has been created and championed by The Blocknet.
Now, The Blocknet is leveraging XRouter to provide Avalanche with a decentralized indexing system that allows DApps to use Avalanche’s contracts and transactions alongside any other blockchain in a trustless fashion.
Setting out just one use case that illustrates the benefits of this approach, Avalanche explained: “With the emergence of multiple DeFi platforms, the success of a contract or DApp on any one platform creates a demand for DApps on any platform to interoperate with it. The varying performance and cost differences of these platforms makes it advantageous for developers to cherry-pick and orchestrate contracts across chains.”
Indexing services are described as instrumental for enabling decentralized applications to deliver what users want, and using XRouter technology will ensure that they remain fully decentralized in the process.
“The Blocknet is the only project that enables interoperability with effectively every chain in existence and is decentralized at the interchain level,” The Blocknet co-founder Arlyn Culwick said. “It does not privilege any one chain over another, making it as open and agnostic as the internet.”
Learn more about the Blocknet
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Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.