One of the main issues with blockchain technology is just how many separate blockchains there are, leading to user fragmentation in a non-monopolized market.
No, that doesn’t sound right. Let’s rewrite that. One of the main issues with blockchain technology is that separate blockchains can’t work with each other, leading to user fragmentation that requires external actors (ie, cryptocurrency exchange sites) for users with different cryptocurrencies to interact with one another.
While the non-centralized, non-monopolized model blockchains follow is positive, having users stuck in small islands, unable to interact with those in others, is a major problem. Sure, we have a solution for now, but these exchange places are problematic by themselves. Not only do they charge sometimes hefty commissions, but they also can be insecure — most large crypto robberies, in fact, stem from insecurities in these sites.
Because of this, the problem of blockchain interaction has been studied for a while. And, although several solutions had been proposed, it’s only now that we have an actual implementation of one.
A blockchain to unite them all…
Now, the problem of cross-blockchain interaction is an old one, and it comes from the very definition of a blockchain. Being security-oriented means a blockchain is setup to only trust its own nodes, since they’re the only sources of information whose security it can account for. Therefore, opening up to external actors was seen as risky and, in general, undesirable.
This, of course, comes couple with how original definitions for blockchain thought of a single, all-encompassing blockchain. Back then, it wasn’t thought that everyone might want their own cryptocurrency, and the original aim was to simply model and create a method to sustain a secure digital currency.
Times have changed. Instead of a single entity, cryptocurrencies comprise thousands of different coins, all with different exchange rates and amounts of users. And while, as usual in any markets, most users gravitate towards just a handful of these, even exchanging between them is impossible without third-parties.
Since the goal is getting cryptocurrencies to become widely used, that’s a problem that needs to be solved. Most people won’t stand having to use middlemen for any exchanges, so cryptocurrencies handling their exchanges themselves is extremely important.
A solution looms near
Instead of asking random nodes for proof-of-work or proof-of-stake, which wouldn’t work for this setting, the WAB network expects to connect blockchains based on nodes that are previously authenticated as trustable. In other words, in order for, say, Ethereum, to connect to the WAB network, the engineers working with the blockchain must first perform a link with the platform themselves.
This link includes setting up specific nodes they consider trustable to connect to WAB. WAB then will perform a series of tests with the linkage, to ensure the information going back and forth is both well secured, trustable, and traceable inside WAB. This process of testing nodes will then be repeated occasionally to ensure the integrity of the system.
Once nodes are linked, they are free to exchange information, effectively linking the blockchains together. Moreover, the WAB network can also serve as a bridge between different blockchains, so that other blockchains can just link themselves to WAB instead of having to perform independent links to any other chains.
How the Conversion works
Now for the main question: How does this conversion work? It’s obvious you can’t move BTC to the ETH network, no matter how much you want to. So, since you can’t effectively move crypto between blockchains, what can be done?
We’re glad you asked.
While different blockchains indeed use different tokens with different values, and while the default method of money exchange (ie, using a third coin as a base) won’t work with blockchains, there’s still a way. It simply includes finding something else all blockchains use and always require.
That something is computational power. A blockchain can’t exist without one, and the task of every active node in a blockchain (ie, everyone ‘mining’ crypto) is to give said blockchain their computing power to keep it alive. The crypto you get from mining or staking is a payment for using your resources, not some free money being printed out of nowhere.
Knowing this, WAB set up its cross-chain model based on the exchange of computational power. So if, for example, the Bitcoin blockchain were to need to send tokens to the Ethereum blockchain, the latter wouldn’t have to find a way to handle BTC. Instead, the Bitcoin network would request for ETH to produce a certain amount of ETH tokens in exchange for their equivalent in processing power (ie, the amount of processing power one would need, in average, to create that many tokens.)
This power debt is then handled by the linked nodes who have the task of sending information between them, allowing one blockchain to use the resources of the other until said debt is settled.
As for what happens with the BTC spent in the process, the BTC network would be expected to keep them and use them to pay their nodes as they perform the tasks required by the ETH network. In other words, nothing is lost, and seamless exchange among networks is attained.
To maintain integrity, these transactions must be recorded in the ledgers of all involved parties, and any transaction referring to them must be authenticated by them all via the existing links.
The main difficulty with having blockchains interact with each other, as stated above, is one of trust. Blockchains trust and authenticate their own nodes in many ways, though most commonly by proof-of-work and proof-of-stake algorithms that ensure nodes will act as expected. Even then, many blockchains assign nodes weights based on trust, thus knowing who to believe in cases of conflicting information.
This isn’t doable when blockchains interact with each other. Or, more than not doable, it’s not practical since it would require a blockchain made of blockchains that would serve little use other than allowing said transactions.
WAB is making a difference by providing a cross-chain functionality.
Find us on social media:
- Whitepaper: https://wab.network/Whitepaper-v1.pdf
- Official Website: https://wab.network
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/WABnetwork
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