LayerZero the future transport layer of IBC

Ryan Zarick
LayerZero Official
Published in
3 min readDec 8, 2021

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tldr: IBC everywhere (through LayerZero)

Today the vast Cosmos ecosystem is connected via Cosmos’s Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC). Recently, Tendermint chains such as Terra have enabled IBC which will connect them to Cosmos Hub, Osmosis, and many others.The Cosmos ecosystem is growing rapidly, but remains largely constrained due to the high costs in connecting to Ethereum and other EVM-based chains via IBC’s current transport layer.

LayerZero is an omnichain interoperability protocol, capable of sending a message to any contract on any chain. The message is a bytes payload allowing user applications complete control over its structure and interpretation. Simply put: LayerZero is a messaging transport layer for smart contracts to communicate between chains.

Today many applications are moving to a multichain architecture. LayerZero can enable these applications to communicate amongst themselves seamlessly (A →A, B →B), but what if A wanted to communicate with B? One way would be to get both the A and B teams to design an agreed-upon set of rules for interpreting messaging between the two applications. The messaging standard would be highly optimized for the specific type of communication A and B would like to perform. What if C would like to integrate a few months down the road, but they need modifications to the standard to meet their requirements?

This is where Cosmos’s Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC) comes in. Besides being a standard for how communication can be established between two chains, IBC also has a robust set of standards, such as ICS-20 that define how messages should be formatted for token transfer. Instead of reinventing the wheel, teams from A, B, and C could leverage these community-driven standards to define their messaging rules.

And now for the gotcha: IBC’s current transport layer requires pair-wise light clients between each chain. Running a full light-client is cost-prohibitive in most EVM-based chains limiting IBC’s reach to chains with high throughput and cheap transactions. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the robust messaging standards of IBC running on all smart chains?

Introducing IBC on top of LayerZero, an omnichain interoperability protocol. By swapping out IBC’s transport layer with LayerZero, IBC can now flourish everywhere, allowing applications to have a community-driven standard for omnichain communication. LayerZero implements an array of innovations to make omnichain communication cheaper and faster. Interested readers can check out our Ultra Light Node design.

The LayerZero development team will be rolling out IBC messaging interfaces on top of LayerZero for all developers to take advantage of. Welcome to the future of messaging: IBC on top of LayerZero.

For a more in depth look of LayerZero as an IBC transport layer check out this article by Isaac Zhang. Thank you to Kyle Samani, Zaki Manian, John Robert Reed, Bryan Pellegrino, and Isaac Zhang for your review.

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