Blockchain Bridges: What Are They, and How Do They Work?

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Blockchain technology has undergone numerous developmental milestones since its inception in 2008 and has introduced the concept of decentralization and freedom from the control of a single entity. However, the need for interoperability between different blockchain networks is one of the most notable limitations to the decentralization goals, and blockchain bridges are the ultimate solution.

What Is a Blockchain Bridge?

Physical bridges connect two pieces of land, making transport easier by providing passage over gaps or barriers. Blockchain bridges, called cross-chain bridges, apply the same connection concept to connect two separate blockchain applications or networks. 

Blockchain networks exist in isolation or communities set apart within their respective industries. Isolation is one of the basic foundations of decentralizing information and blockchain technology’s most vital selling points. However, the isolation also makes it hard for the different communities to connect and share responsibilities. 

Industrial development in the blockchain industry demands that communication limits between different spheres be reduced to a minimum to improve block interoperability. A blockchain bridge is the perfect medium for precise, reliable connection and blockchain compatibility through connecting, enabling, and enhancing the transfer of crypto assets, information, and resources between blockchain networks.

Blockchain bridges are independent networks with native assets and unique operation rules. While a blockchain can share information from one way to another, a blockchain bridge facilitates two-way communication by leveraging unique mechanisms.

Kinds of Blockchain Bridges

There are two broad classifications of blockchain bridges; trusted and trustless bridges. 

Trusted Bridges

Trusted bridges, also referred to as custodial bridges, rely on a central system or entity to activate the ledger connection. Users of trusted blockchain bridges have to trust a third party to use and hold their data. The users must give up the control of their holding to the third party and require permission to be part of the bridge. Trusted bridges have built a reputation for having user-friendly interfaces to attract more users.

Trustless Bridges

Trustless blockchain bridges stick to the decentralization policy. They do not have an intermediary custodian, and users require no permission to be part of the bridge. The bridges replace the third-party custodian with smart contracts and algorithms to operate efficiently. The smart contracts usage allows the bridge users to have full control of their holdings.

The underlying security features of the bridge must match that of the underlying blockchain for compatibility. 

Blockchain bridges are also divided based on their connectivity technology. The bridge level has to correspond to the level of the digital ledger in use. For instance, a level 1 bridge can only connect to a level 1 digital ledger—an L2 bridge to an L2 ledger, etc.

In addition, bridges can be classified depending on their function. A bridge connecting only two blockchain entities is referred to as a chain-to-chain bridge, while a multichain bridge transfer assets between multiple blockchain entities.

The Essence of Blockchain Bridges

No blockchain is self-sufficient, with each bearing a fair share of limitations that affect its usability and adoption into other systems. Blockchain bridges work to fit into the efficiency spaces left by each of the blockchain system weaknesses. The bridges ensure seamless adoption of the blockchains and improve resource sharing. 

The benefits of using blockchain bridges are wholesomely raging across the system developers, users, and all the blockchain networks connected by the bridge. Increased adaptability and interoperability attract more blockchain network users and open more development and asset transfer opportunities. 

Specific blockchain network users can comfortably access and interact with resources from a different network. The users can also exploit the bridges and extract the best applications from the different blockchains on the bridge network through the enhanced resources usability features promoted by the bridge. 

Developers can rely on how the bridges work to increase blockchain efficiency by integrating the bridge functionalities into dApps to increase the efficiency of the bridges. Furthermore, the developers can innovate designs for decentralized systems by learning the scalability, interoperability, and utility aspects of the blockchain bridges. 

Setbacks of Using Blockchain Bridges

Although blockchains appear to be the ultimate solution to blockchain interoperability issues, they might come with various setbacks. Blockchain bridges, just like web 3, are in their early stages of development, and a great part of the developers’ community thinks that they haven’t created the best version of blockchain bridges. 

Different types of blockchain bridges present different disadvantages to the users and the blockchain community. For instance, the centralized control of trusted bridges raises concerns about censorship; the involvement of third parties puts the users at risk of malicious bridge operators. Similarly, trustless bridges put the user at risk of smart contract code malware and possible loss of funds from user errors. 

Final Take

The future of blockchain is unlimited, and the blockchain bridges are part of it. Blockchain developers have infinite ways in which they can leverage the bridges to build more sustainable, scalable, and efficient systems. Blockchain development will translate to web 3 growth for the benefit of the users.

Bridges will continue to give seamless user experiences promoting the growth of blockchain applications such as DAOs, NFTs, and DeFi apps. Therefore, every stakeholder needs to get invested and acquire timeless information for the industry’s growth.

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