Decentralization, above almost all else, is what cryptocurrency evangelists value. Numerous applications even exist for the sole function of monitoring the health of a given network, typically expressed in varying degrees of aspirational decentralization.
How many holders are there? How many whales are there? How many nodes? How much hashpower and who is providing what percentage? These are all common questions whose answers are the barometer for many cryptocurrency users.
Rightly so, many of these same users are hoping to realize some form of Satoshi Nakamoto’s promise of a peer-to-peer monetary system, with minimal (ideally zero) central authority. However, while cryptocurrencies may enjoy different levels of decentralization, the fact remains that the assets and information on a given chain are tethered to that one chain. This might be seen as an abstract form of centralization.
This is not to say that individual decentralized networks are not worth building, using, or improving — far from it, since innovation relies on this plurality. That said, certain types of data, blockchains, their governance, their communities, and their degree of (de)centralization can be less than ideal in a vacuum. This is especially true with pure cryptocurrencies, that is, cryptoassets meant to behave as money.
The key to further decentralizing decentralized networks is what the Metronome team calls “chainhopping,” or the portability of a single digital asset between multiple chains.
If Retail Banking Worked Like Crypto Today
Consider an example of an individual who holds cash in USD across multiple accounts. This individual wishes to move their USD from Bank A to Bank B. The process is simple enough, they deduct USD from Bank A’s ledger, it is sent to Bank B, and Bank B records the new amount on their ledger.
To graft the current cryptocurrency model on top of this system, this scenario begins to look very different. Suppose the same individual has the native asset of Bank A and the native asset of Bank B. Moving the asset from Bank A to Bank B is impossible, as Bank B’s ledger cannot support recording this asset. Therefore, the individual is required to sell their Bank A asset at a determined rate for Bank B’s asset before that wealth can be transferred. This exposes the individual to volatility risks, fees, and other unsavory considerations. The situation would only become that much worse if the individual hoped to leave Bank A due to practices, governance, or other aesthetics they did not share. Most would find this wholly unacceptable.
Yet this is the exact scenario most cryptocurrency users experience when exiting a chain for security, governance, or community considerations.
In the same way that an individual might expect to be able to move their USD based on security and other needs, cryptocurrency users should also see value in such portability. This is one of the reasons that the Metronome team, its chief designer Jeff Garzik, and Bloq co-founder Matthew Roszak believe Metronome’s chainhopping is so important — it substantially increases the “moniness” of cryptocurrency.
A MET owner can move their MET away from or to a blockchain based on their needs. Currently MET owners can chainhop between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. Additional chain support is on the timeline, along with research into even more ambitious blockchains as “lily pads” for MET owners.
To circle back to the analogy — the individual can now move the same asset (MET) across multiple ledgers without having to “cash out” in any way, in very much the same way one can move their money between bank accounts.
Enabling users to move their MET between chains opens up the notion of governance arbitrage — but more on that later.
More to come,