Why Blockchain Interoperability Is Key To Mainstream Adoption Of Blockchain
What Is Blockchain Interoperability?
There have been many calls for the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, but that will all be for nothing without blockchain interoperability. You can see blockchain interoperability as the collaboration of different blockchain platforms to share information and data amongst themselves. Such cooperation must come without any form of restrictions before meaningful mainstream adoption can be achieved.
It has been more than ten years since the release of the first blockchain platform, and the tech has reached mainstream users. A large number of enterprises and government agents has been trying to maximize the benefits of blockchain technology. The mainstream blockchain application is seen in the financial industry, healthcare, agriculture, real estate, supply chain management, etc.
Every year, dozens of new blockchain projects are launched in the quest to develop the “best blockchain platform.” These developers and project owners are always quick to show the many ways that their project is better than the already existing ones. Whether their claims are true or false, the fact remains that their project is a disconnected and stand-alone blockchain platform. Without blockchain interoperability, our desire for full mainstream adoption of blockchain might not see the light of day.
These different blockchains entail different ecosystem, hashing algorithm, communities, and consensus models. With each passing day, the blockchain space is increasingly becoming isolated while the core philosophy of decentralization largely remains undermined. As it stands at the moment, no one blockchain platform has information that might exist on another blockchain network.
For example, the Ethereum blockchain is 100 percent independent of the Bitcoin blockchain, and that does not mean well for blockchain mass adoption. Although there are several blockchain interoperability projects as well as blockchain interoperability solutions, we are yet to see what they have to offer.
Why Blockchain Interoperability Is Critical To Blockchain Mainstream Adoption
The truth is that without blockchain interoperability, mass adoption is greatly in doubt. There has been a lot of focus by enterprise and blockchain developers to beat their competition at the detriment of the general infrastructure. A very good example of this is the scalability race by different blockchain platforms.
There is hardly any corporation that would want to process its payment with blockchain if the overall infrastructure is not interoperable, irrespective of the level of scalability. With the original blockchain (Bitcoin) able to perform just seven transactions per second (TPS), various blockchain platforms currently boast of 40,000 TPS.
When you compare this with the Visa network whose capacity is estimated at 24,000 TPS and performs only 1,700 transactions on the average; it is quite evident that it doesn’t make sense at all to increase transaction per second. My reason is that even the one for Bitcoin is very far from beating Visa when it comes to engagement. Make no mistake, the output of these blockchains might be better than Visa’s, but they won’t command the same usability across different industries if they all stay isolated.
A very good example of interoperability is witnessed among the different cards issued by the global card schemes. For instance, Visa, MasterCard, American, etc., are all interoperable across ATMs across the world. The internet wouldn’t be able to grow into what we see today if it wasn’t interoperable.
Blockchain interoperability is inevitable if it must gain mainstream appeal. The Blockchain platforms must show and prove that they can work seamlessly with each other before any meaningful adoption can be attained.
The Importance Of Blockchain Interoperability
Well, let us consider the healthcare industry for a start. Let us assume that blockchain has gained mass adoption, and every company uses blockchain to store data. A person needs to be transferred from one hospital to another one due to the nature of the ailment and while he or she is still on the way the new hospital requests the medical record from the clinic where this individual is recorded.
You can imagine a scenario where the first clinic uses a different blockchain which is not compatible with the second hospital’s ledger. Here life is on the line and every second count. Without the ability of blockchains to interoperate, no hospital will rely on it, no matter the benefits. Mass adoption is impossible without blockchain interoperability.
How Interoperability In Blockchain Can Be Achieved
There are lots of blockchain interoperability solutions and different methods to engage. Methods like cross-chains, sidechains, proxy tokens, and swaps are all in the mix to helping blockchain become interoperable. We must know that interconnecting existing blockchains won’t be an easy task, but it is not impossible either. If we clamor for mainstream adoption, then we must be willing to do everything necessary to achieve it.
There are several blockchain projects that have focused on interoperability, employing different methods and approaches. The examples include:
Cosmos is a blockchain interoperability project that follows the cross-chain principle. The project makes use of an inter-blockchain communication (IBC) protocol to establish blockchain interoperability. It is more of a TCP/IP-like messaging protocol for blockchain platforms. The Cosmos Hub is an interchain ecosystem developed to contain other entities not supported on the IBC by design.
By using “peg zones”, Cosmos connects them to the Cosmos Hub and coordinates communications between different blockchains through a standardized language. The Iris Hub focuses on enterprise customers and Chinese Clients.
The Wanchain project uses a different protocol to facilitate the transfer of data between unconnected blockchains. Unlike Cosmos that makes use of peg zones, Wanchain creates a “wrapped” token that can be traded on other blockchains. For example, to mover 20 ETH to the BTC chain, the Wanchain platform will first lock that amount on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts.
The smart contracts would then mint 20 Wanchain-wrapped ETH (WETH) on Wanchain. The WETH could then be traded for Wanchain-wrapped BTC (WBTC) on any trading platform. These wrapped BTC tokens can be turned into the original tokens located on the Bitcoin blockchain.
This is a multichain or cross-chain technology that allows different blockchains to plug into a larger standardized ecosystem. This project was founded by Gavin Wood, a co-founder of Ethereum. On a technical level, Polkadot is made up of parachains (parallel blockchains that process and transfer transactions to the original blockchain), a relay chain (a central component that connects parachains while ensuring their security), and bridges that link and connect Polkadot to external blockchains.
The Chainlink is a decentralized oracle service that allows for data to be retrieved from off-chain APIs and incorporated on a blockchain. Chainlink serves as a bridge between blockchains and all other infrastructure that exists off-chain. The Oracle nodes receive real-world data, and process it through the network and take it to the blockchain. This company cooperates with the global interbank data transfer and payment system called SWIFT, used by many banks across the world.
Blockchain interoperability is vital to the mainstream application of blockchain across various industries. Enterprises and blockchain stakeholders need to synergize their efforts to promote blockchain’s interoperability. There should be a less focus on competition and more emphasis should on linking the various blockchain platforms. Blockchain interoperability solutions need to be promoted and encouraged to drive blockchain adoption.
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