Building cross-chain atomic swaps in the midst of intermediation

Matthew Black
Oct 16, 2018 · 4 min read

Hackathons are always special, and ETH SF was no exception. Developers flew in from all corners of the world to build their dreams within the span of 36 hours — most teams quickly dismissed sleep and instead fueled themselves on nothing but determination and energy drinks in order to create the decentralized future.

Feeling Like Gladiators

The backdrop couldn’t have been better selected for the event — it was the perfect juxtaposition of developing the future in an antique setting. The Palace of Fine Arts, whose design was inspired by Roman and Greek architecture, looked to me like the Colosseum, and upon entering the venue, I could feel the energy of thousands of hackers greeting me — I couldn’t shake the feeling that developers from both the most developed countries and the developing ones gathered here at the epicenter of innovation to build the decentralized future.

It was the largest Ethereum hackathon in the world, with 1000 hackers and 121 submissions; and the sponsors and workshops, which addressed everything from security to state channels, offered the hackers the necessary resources to compete.

ETH SF Winners of Liquality Prize — Making Cross-Chain Swaps Easier

I was thrilled to see many hackers’ building with the Chain Abstraction Layer (CAL) in order to create peer-to-peer swaps, free of middlemen. Ultimately, I and other Liquality core contributors selected the Cross Chain Swap team for the CAL prize. Congratulations to the Cross-Chain Swap Team for your outstanding work and for pushing forth the paradigm of disintermediation.

The Cross-Chain Swap Hackathon Team:

Using the CAL, the logic of atomic swaps, MetaMask, and a Bitcoin node, the team created a simple user interface for swapping Bitcoin and Ether, enabling the user to:

  1. Generate a secret for the swap
  2. Initiate a swap
  3. Claim the swap
The Liquality cross-chain prize winning team with Matt from Liquality

From myself (Matt @mattBlackDesign mid-right) and the other Liquality core contributors, we want to say a huge thanks to Kevin (@kevingau), Jeff (@yhuag) and Tina (@tina1998612) from the Cross Chain Swap team.

Wishlist for disintermediation

While most hackathon teams made the effort to address real problems — issues with on-boarding into cryptocurrency, scalability, access to financial services, etc. — their approaches reverted back to old paradigms and re-invited single points of failure back into the equation through the reincarnation of trusted middlemen: themselves (the exception of course was the team above). As we’ve previously discussed, the reincarnation of decentralized intermediaries is a real threat to open, neutral, borderless, censorship-resistant solutions.

The abundance of these intermediated projects left us awestruck. How could so many people have lost sight of the larger vision? Do people still care about enabling trust-minimized peer-to-peer networks? Is printing money the real value proposition of decentralized networks? What are we willing to trade off for ease of use and adoption? Is this what the decentralized future really looks like? These are the sorts of questions that Liquality core contributors constantly discuss and address, and we encourage you to join the discussion.

Moving forward, we want to see more emphasis from both hackers and organizers on building solutions that solve real problems without requiring delegation of trust. Perhaps it’s time we put together a hackathon where developers from different communities unite under the mindset of disintermediation.

Help us build without sacrificing trust

On that note, if you want help build a disintermediated future, where individuals’ value and voice for free and equal global exchange are empowered, jump right in by trying out the CAL and getting involved with the project — explore the Liquality Github, and join the discussion.

Thank You to ETH SF!

I’d like to say a huge thanks is due to all the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, speakers, and participants that made ETH SF possible. Thank you for all your hard work in continuing the mission of ETH Global in bringing developers together to buidl new and exciting paradigms.


Swap cryptocurrencies without unnecessary risk or fees

Matthew Black

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Swap cryptocurrencies without unnecessary risk or fees

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