Article source: Vernacular blockchain
If 2018 is called the "first year of the public chain," 2019 may be called "the first year of the chain."
On March 14th, the main network of the Cosmos project, which focuses on “ cross-chain technology ”, was successfully launched, which opened up a heated discussion among the industry on the new round of cross-chain mechanism. In addition to Cosmos, another well-known cross-chain project, Polkadot, will be launched on the main network in the second half of this year. In addition, there are many cross-chain projects on the road in the industry.
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What impact will the cross-chain project bring to the entire blockchain industry? Will it have an impact on the existing public chain? The vernacular blockchain text interviewed He Bin , founder of imToken wallet, and Wang Bo, the chief product officer of Nervos . The following is the interview content:
First, what is a cross-chain
Vernacular blockchain: Can you describe to us what is cross-chain in the simplest, vernacular language?
imToken He Bin : Because it is a vernacular blockchain , so give a simple comparison, cross-chain to the blockchain , just like the Internet to the LAN.
Since the birth of Bitcoin in early 2009, ten years of development, a lot of public chain projects have emerged. In the early days, it was a cloning technology for Bitcoin, such as: Litecoin, Dogecoin, Dotcoin, Future Coin, etc. Ethereum, which was born in 2015, was the first Turing-complete intelligent contract platform, which led to the creation of a number of blockchain 2.0 projects. From the perspective of the whole industry, there are more than one hundred well-known public chains, each with different technical characteristics, improvement and innovation, interest pursuit and application scenarios, but each chain is like a local area network, and it is impossible to communicate and interact with each other. . If each blockchain carries its own ecology and value, the current status of the industry is: the ocean and the floating "value island."
Cross-chaining is essentially to solve the problem of silos, so that the blockchains in the "local area network" state can be interconnected. We are generally called the interoperability of the chain.
Nervos Wang Bo: From an application perspective, cross-chain is a state on a chain. Usually it is a kind of encrypted asset, which is transferred to another chain in some way. For example, Alice turns 10 BTCs from the Bitcoin blockchain to the ETH blockchain and becomes 10 WBTCs. From a technical point of view, cross-chaining is a protocol that ensures that events on one chain must trigger an event on another chain . In the above example, actually Alice transferred 10 BTCs to a hosted address on the Bitcoin blockchain, and then the contract transferred 10 WBTCs to Alice's address on the Ethereum in Ethereum. The existence of a cross-chain protocol is to ensure the security of this process, so as to prevent one event from happening and another event not being triggered.
Second, the cross-chain principle of Cosmos and Polkadot
Vernacular blockchain: Cross-chain technology is complex, and the cross-chain principles of Cosmos and Polkadot are different. Can you explain the cross-chain principle of Cosmos and Polkadot to our users with a few analogies and metaphors?
imToken He Bin : The analogy mentioned above – LAN, in order to make the LAN globally interconnected, we need the corresponding technology and equipment, so there is a TCP/IP data transmission protocol, with router/hub data distribution routing device.
Then, in order to open up blockchains that are isolated and incompatible with each other, the things to be done are similar. We need to standardize "interoperability" protocols, as well as components that bridge each other.
Cosmos and Polkadot are similar in terms of cross-chain principle and topology, all using the Spoke-Hub mode. Cosmos Spoke is called Zone. It can be a stand-alone blockchain system built with the Cosmos SDK, or it can be an existing blockchain, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The Zones are interconnected to the Cosmos Hub through the IBC communication protocol. If the existing blockchain is connected, additional Peg-Zone components are required for bridging. Polkadot is similar. The middle hub is called Relay Chain, and the connected independent blockchain is called Parachain.
Nervos Wang Bo: The difference between Cosmos and Polkadot is not that great in terms of cross-chain principles.
The vision of Cosmos and Polkadot is to make each application have its own chain, and each application will generate its own token. Under this premise, there is a need for a way for these different Tokens not to be trapped in their own chain, but to let them flow and move from one chain to another. This requires a cross-chain implementation.
There is a real problem in implementing cross-chaining. If we want to implement direct cross-chaining between each chain, we will need to build a cross-chain system at the NxN level. So in order to solve this problem, both Cosmos and Polkadot adopt a Hub-and-Spoke-like mode, which uses a Hub (or Relay Chain) to make an intermediary between any two chains. In this way, all the chains only need to form a cross-chain system with this Hub, and the cross-chain between any two chains can be realized through the Hub.
Both Cosmos and Polkadot implement both homogeneous and heterogeneous cross-chain models. The former occurs between Hub-Spoke, implementing standardized cross-chaining with the same protocol and data structure. The latter is the solution used when bridging external chains such as BTC and Ethereum. The difference between Cosmos and Polkadot in the cross-chain is only the isomorphic link into the Hub/Relay Chain setting, the former uses the Token pledge voting access mode, while the latter uses the shared security pool mode. But recently, some of Cosmos's promotional materials can be seen, and they are also trying to allow two zones to cross the chain directly through the Hub, which deserves constant attention.
Third, cross-chain application scenarios
Vernacular blockchain: What kinds of application scenarios are there mainly in cross-chain? Can you give a simple example for each application scenario?
imToken He Bin : First of all, the cross-chain technology itself solves the chain interoperability first , so that chains that cannot communicate with each other can transfer assets and call smart contracts.
Secondly, cross-chaining can solve the problem of " chain scalability " to a certain extent. Because of the cross-chain architecture, different application scenarios can adopt different technical implementation methods. Vertical layering or horizontal sharding can be independent for different scenes. The choice includes a consensus mechanism.
So when it comes to application scenarios, I think it is very generalized. Take Polkadot as an example. His Parachain can be any blockchain adaptation scenario, such as decentralized trading platform, IoT Internet of Things, DeFi application, DApp games, etc. Etc., even access to the alliance chain, private chain.
Nervos Wang Bo: The first is cross-chain asset mapping. The WBTC mentioned above or the recently popular xDai locks the encrypted asset (Token) on one chain and maps it to another chain and uses it in the ecology of another chain.
Followed by cross-chain atomic trading, that is, I use my BTC to trade with your ETH. The difference between this and cross-chain asset mapping is that no new mapping assets are generated in this process, but only a predetermined proportion of the ownership of the two assets is exchanged on the two chains.
The last one is proof of cross-chain status. In fact, cross-chain asset mapping can be considered as a narrow sense of cross-chain status, that is, asset lock/map asset destruction proof, but it is customary for us to separate assets from the state. The cross-chain status proof is generally used to calculate the results in Layer 2, such as voting, privacy transactions, and push the results to the main chain.
Fourth, cross-chain projects threats to the public chain
Vernacular blockchain: Will cross-chain technology become a threat to existing public chain projects? Will there be a phenomenon of "one thousand links in one" in the future?
imToken He Bin : To be honest, there will definitely be a big impact on some existing public chains. The reason is that through the well-defined definition of cross-chain technology itself, component technology framework, SDK and other good support, the threshold for developing and operating blockchain will be further reduced, and it is a more advanced technology. This is the benefit of evolution, allowing innovative practitioners to have more resources to invest in real user scenarios.
More advanced technology, more focused scene development, and more network-effect connections, I believe there will be a process of survival of the fittest. But you said that "the chain is one" I don't agree, it is impossible to converge to a chain, but I hope that the blockchain can outperform the Internet, and there is no need for trust and communication without permission.
Nervos Wang Bo: Cosmos and Polkadot have brought us a very good idea of blockchain expansion. In particular, Cosmos has already been the main online line, and many project parties have begun to deploy Cosmos Zone. The prospects are worth looking forward to.
But like the blockchain technology itself, cross-chain is not a panacea, and its application scenario faces at least two limitations.
First, cross-chain actions will certainly bring some kind of bottleneck. After all, cross-chain involves two chains. For all current cross-chain technologies, it is difficult to ensure the security, user experience and decentralization at the same time, which means that some services are implemented on the same public chain. It is more advantageous than through cross-chain implementation. In other words, not all businesses will migrate to the cross-chain ecosystem.
Second, the cross-chain itself does not solve the problem of where the assets come from, that is to say, the cross-chain does not occupy the ecological status of the chain being crossed, and the two are complementary. Both Cosmos and Polkadot are excellent projects, and their prosperity will only help public assets such as Bitcoin improve liquidity and introduce more DeFi ecology without stifling their living space. Because Cosmos and Polkadot don't have assets like Bitcoin, the positioning and solving problems are completely different.
5. Will EOS launch a cross-chain function?
Vernacular blockchain: EOS founder BM recently announced that it will engage in things in June this year, and many people speculate about cross-chaining. What is the probability that you think is related to cross-chain? If EOS really introduces cross-chain functionality, are you optimistic? why?
Nervos Wang Bo: At present, there are not many EOS cross-chain solutions in the community. The sporadic data I personally see shows that EOS may use the same super node to run multiple parallel chains at the same time, and the super node is responsible for it. Direct cross-chain. This is a very clever model because it can balance cross-chain security with intra-chain security, and the super-node is responsible for parallel-chain transactions and cross-chain transactions without introducing new risks. But this model may also cause EOS to face more controversy about whether it is enough to decentralize. We will wait and see what kind of plan will be taken by the specific BM.
Six, when the cross-chain really landed application
Vernacular blockchain: Although Cosmos is the main online line, in fact, many functions have not been developed; the Polkadot, which is scheduled to go online in the second half of this year, is only part of the function on the line. Some of the core functions must wait until next year or even more. It will take a long time to achieve. Is the market's expectation and pursuit of "cross-chain" too frenetic? After all, cross-chain is difficult, and there is still a long way to go before it really goes. In addition, in which year do you think we can see the real maturity of cross-chain projects?
imToken He Bin : Indeed, the blockchain is so difficult, not to mention cross-chain. Therefore, the technological evolution of these projects requires a long period of time. I am very pleased to see that Cosmos and Polkadot are doing very well. Although they have not really "crossed" the past, it is not far from the milestone planning. This is why The market is pursuing cross-chain technology.
Personally, it is expected that in the second half of 2020, the industry-leading development brought by cross-chain technology can be seen, and InterChain brought by cross-chain technology is Blockchain 3.0 in my personal definition.
Nervos Wang Bo: In fact, Cosmos and Polkadot have made a lot of contributions to the blockchain infrastructure. For example, Cosmos's Cosmos SDK (Tendermint) and Polkadot's Substrate are both very good blockchain frameworks, and some teams are already using it for production-level blockchain projects. With this foundation in place, it is very simple to implement cross-chaining in technology, which can be achieved in minutes.
The real bottleneck is actually the application scenario. This is also related to the current big blockchain environment, and many developers and teams are experimenting with a variety of applications, such as DApp or DeFi . But the real Killer DApp still hasn't appeared yet. Even if the Killer DApp appears, let's judge whether the cross-chain in this application scenario will be just needed. So if I want to say it, the road is still far away.
Seven, the core competitiveness of cross-chain projects
Vernacular blockchain: As mentioned above, the current cross-chain projects are not only the most famous Cosmos and Polkadot, but also many projects are also cross-chain, competition will not be weaker than the "public chain dispute" in 2018. Not surprisingly, the cross-chain project will be the same as the public chain project, and eventually become two or three. For cross-chain projects, what factors will be core competencies and help the project stand out? Under what circumstances will the public chain actively participate in cross-chain projects? If the public chain ecology is strong enough, the public chain can fully develop its own cross-chain function.
Nervos Wang Bo: The core competitiveness of the blockchain project is nothing more than technology, community and ecology, and cross-chain projects are no exception . Technical aspects Cosmos and Polkadot are both teams with strong engineering capabilities and product capabilities. There should be no technical bottlenecks in the short term, and other projects are unlikely to come up with “external technology” to bend overtaking.
In terms of community and ecology, Cosmos and Polkadot have been firmly on the first echelon of cross-chain projects, and other similar projects have been difficult to shake their position. The next thing to consider is how to set up the infrastructure and how to attract business people to enter, which is the problem of commercialization.
In this respect, in fact, the cross-chain project needs to be clear about how to win with the business side. After we saw the Substrate of the Cosmos SDK and Polkadot, many of the business parties realized their own business chain and gained high user satisfaction. But attracting these business links into the central chain may be the point of competitiveness in the next phase of each cross-chain project. From the perspective of the business side, it is impossible for the own chain to provide all DeFi services, and it is impossible to cover all users. Therefore, it seems that the access center chain is connected with other business chains.
But if you think carefully, you will find that the bigger the business, the more users and assets, the less likely they are to get through with other business chains. Because once it is opened, its own users will go to other business chains to do business, which is equivalent to sharing their own users. The challenge in this regard is whether we can design an effective cross-chain incentive model that allows business parties to access rather than play by themselves . We believe that Cosmos and Polkadot have long recognized this challenge and are carefully designing solutions that we are happy to see.
From the perspective of the public chain, the cross-chain protocol is only a subset of the layered solution. We are more concerned with how to design a better Layer1 to facilitate the implementation of various protocols, rather than implementing all protocols by ourselves. We also have good collaboration with cross-chain communities, and we can tilt resources to design heterogeneous cross-chain protocols to connect similar Cosmos and Polkadot ecosystems.
『Declaration : This article is the author's independent point of view, does not represent the vernacular blockchain position, and does not constitute any investment advice or advice. 』