How Are Cross-Chain Protocols Bridging the Gap in DeFi

Vesper Finance
Vesper Finance
Published in
4 min readFeb 14, 2024

What exactly does cross-chain mean and why is it so important in DeFi?



As DeFi has evolved, it has continually been plagued with interoperability issues. In the earlier days, blockchains operated more in isolation, creating siloed ecosystems with limited interaction. This fragmentation presented significant challenges, particularly in DeFi, where the ability to seamlessly move assets and information across different blockchains is crucial. However, the landscape has been adapting and changing for years, thanks to cross-chain protocols.

Interoperability Issues

Within blockchain, each network operates under its distinct set of rules and logic, creating a scenario where direct interoperability between chains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, is inherently non-existent. This design means that while each blockchain offers unique advantages, they also exist independently from one another. This limitation significantly reduces the fluidity with which users can utilize their assets across platforms, constraining them to the confines of a single chain’s capabilities.

Despite this challenge, the community has been actively working on different ways around these limitations. As such, several solutions have emerged. First were CEXs which unfortunately have provided a less-than-ideal method, offering a centralized platform where users can exchange, trade, and seamlessly move assets across different chains. This method, while effective, introduces a dependency on centralized entities, moving away from decentralization.

Another popular solution has been the development of cross-chain bridges. These bridges aim to facilitate asset transfers between blockchains by using various methods such as locking assets on the source chain and minting an equivalent amount on the destination chain. However, this approach has also been met with issues as it often introduces a central point of failure. This inherent vulnerability in cross-chain bridges has been a cause for concern for a long time with many bridge hacks occurring, ultimately highlighting the need for more secure and decentralized interoperability solutions.

Understanding Cross-Chain Transactions

A cross-chain transfer enables an asset from one blockchain, like Ethereum, to be sent and utilized on another chain, such as Solana. This process not only makes the token accessible on the destination chain but also enables it to be used within that ecosystem’s applications and services.

When tokens are transferred cross-chain several mechanisms can happen:

Burn and Mint

The burn and mint mechanism is one of the most efficient methods for cross-chain token transfers. It works exactly as it sounds. When a token is transferred, it is burned on the source chain and simultaneously minted on the destination chain. The efficiency of this method comes from eliminating the need to lock up collateral, thereby removing the necessity for maintaining a token pool. This approach significantly reduces the risk of exploits that token pools typically face.

An important aspect of this mechanism is that the tokens become native assets on every blockchain that supports them. This is a considerable advantage over wrapped versions, such as WETH, as it reduces the typical risks associated with wrapped assets and increases the user experience.

However, the implementation of the burn and mint mechanism is not as straightforward as it sounds. For burn and mint transfers to be possible, the token’s contract must be natively deployed on both the source and destination chains and must support the specific functionalities for burning and minting. Additionally, the cross-chain solution requires special privileges to enable these transfers.

Lock and Mint

The lock and mint method involves locking tokens on the original chain and then receiving a wrapped version of those tokens on the destination chain. To unwrap the tokens, you simply reverse the process — unwrap, burn the wrapped tokens, and unlock the original ones. This method is straightforward because it doesn’t require any additional features in the token’s contract. Its simplicity and compatibility with all tokens make it a highly popular choice.

Lock and Unlock

The lock and unlock method is another widely used strategy that sets up liquidity pools on both the source and destination blockchains. For cross-chain token transfers, assets are locked in the liquidity pool on the source chain and then unlocked from the liquidity pool on the destination chain. It’s common for LPs to be encouraged to lock tokens on both sides of the bridge, often with incentives like sharing in transaction fees.

The Advantages of Cross-Chain Protocols

Cross-chain protocols significantly enhance the entire ecosystem by offering a range of benefits that address various needs and applications. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the increased interoperability, which enables seamless communication between different chains. This facilitates the transfer of data and assets across networks that were previously unable to interact.

Additionally, cross-chain protocols contribute to increased liquidity and capital efficiency. Due to their ability to enable the movement of assets between chains, they can help pool liquidity and reduce the fragmentation of resources. This is especially crucial in DeFi because of the stability and depth of markets in making asset exchanges more seamless and reducing price slippage. It also opens up new financial strategies like arbitrage.

Lastly, improved scalability and reduced transaction costs is a passive trait that shouldn't be overlooked. By distributing transactions across multiple chains, cross-chain protocols help reduce network congestion, which ultimately leads to faster transaction times and potentially lower fees. While it's not a direct advantage, it's a side benefit that improves the overall experience.


Cross-chain protocols have long played an important role in not just DeFi, but the overall ecosystem, by tackling the interoperability challenges between isolated chains. By enabling transfers of assets and information across a multitude of networks, cross-chain protocols significantly improve liquidity and market efficiency. Mechanisms such as burn and mint, lock and mint, and lock and unlock enable these cross-chain transactions, creating new ways to interact with different blockchains.