RSK Contributions to the Blockchain Interoperability Landscape
Blockchain technology has continually been touted as the biggest tech innovation since the Internet and there are few reasons to argue otherwise. This emerging tech’s potential is far-reaching across different industries and could very well change the way a common man interacts with their immediate surroundings. However, there are some caveats and a major one among them is the lack of interoperability among blockchains.
In this guide, we will explore in detail the problem of blockchain interoperability and how RSK is aiming to put this problem to rest for good. To date, RSK has released several platforms and solutions to mitigate the problem of interoperability among different blockchains. We will now explore the blockchain interoperability landscape in detail.
The Problem of Isolated Blockchains
Sure, blockchains are cool and fancy and promise to change the world’s paradigm but there is a major hurdle for blockchain widespread adoption: the lack of infrastructure to facilitate the transmission of information from one blockchain to another.
With the rising digitization of all facets of our lives, it is critical that the tech infrastructure is technologically equipped enough to keep up with the digital world. The issue of isolated blockchains is a major one as it essentially prohibits blockchain networks from communicating with one another. Here, it is worth highlighting that there will not be a single blockchain that commands the respect of the world. Rather, there will be several different blockchains, each specializing in their own way or another that will collectively cater to the needs of the masses. Therefore, the seamless transmission of information among different blockchains becomes all the more significant.
The problem of isolated blockchains could be compared to that of a plant in the middle of nowhere. Until there is a medium to transmit the pollen of a plant to another plant, there will be no pollination and no existence of life. Similarly, without the necessary infrastructure to facilitate communication among different blockchains, the underlying networks — no matter how technologically superior – would be rendered useless.
The Need for Blockchain Interoperability
By now, you must have sensed the importance of blockchain interoperability. Now, consider a real-world and industry-specific example which further signifies the critical significance and the need for an efficient blockchain interoperability solution.
For our example, let us consider the two largest public blockchain networks in existence today: Bitcoin and Ethereum. While Bitcoin is primarily concerned with functioning as a store of value and, to a lesser extent, as a medium of exchange, Ethereum is a smart contract platform that promises numerous use-cases across different industries. With that being said, there are untapped benefits that go to waste without the interaction between these two protocols. Imagine the amount of BTC liquidity that can be tapped into the Ethereum ecosystem for yield farming and vice-versa. This would not only ensure a smooth transmission of digital assets between two different protocols but also put to use the idle capital lying in either of the protocols.
Thankfully, RSK blockchain takes care of this through its innovative and robust blockchain interoperability solutions that make DeFi possible on Bitcoin and also enables seamless movement of ERC-20 tokens from Ethereum to Bitcoin-powered RSK smart contracts. With that being said, there is still an immense industry gap that needs to be fulfilled by blockchain interoperability protocols to ensure maximum capital efficiency.
The Potential of Blockchain Interoperability
While we have already discussed the problem at hand in detail and the urgent need to solve the same, it is also worthwhile to give a thought to the immense potential and windows of opportunities that can be opened once blockchain interoperability becomes commonplace. Picture seeing all blockchain protocols seamlessly interacting with one another. A completely transparent financial and technological infrastructure that allows frictionless and rapid movement of digital assets across the world at a tap of a finger.
Much like the popularity of different applications in different geographies of the world, it is likely that different blockchain protocols will have their loyal user-base at different locations across the world. Polkadot might be popular in Europe and RSK could be the go-to blockchain in the Americas. The possibilities are endless and it makes sense to complete and not compete.
Last year, the World Economic Forum released a report wherein several models, concepts and approaches pertaining to blockchain interoperability were discussed in great detail. The report essentially is an attempt at making organizations understanding the nuanced importance of blockchain interoperability and outlines a decision framework to support their development and execution. The report reads in part:
“Interoperability and compatibility issues are key to address in a world after the coronavirus pandemic. The challenge of interoperability is not only a technology problem, but even more so a problem in terms of governance, data ownerships and commercial business models.”
Nadia Hewett, Blockchain and Digital Currency Project Lead at the World Economic Forum.
There are already different approaches when it comes to addressing blockchain interoperability. These approaches include using ‘Mashup APIs’ where blockchain networks and solutions could be pooled together for a company through a ‘mashup’ application that is only required to interact with one particular application programming interfact (API) and not a separate API for every network. In the same vein, there is a ‘network of network model’ that is dubbed one of the most efficient and scalable method to develop interoperability via the joint efforts of establishing industry standards and identifying a network of networks structure that industry networks can revolve around.
While the aforementioned approaches to solving blockchain interoperability sound promising, not much has been realized through them to date. This is why we are witnessing the unprecedented rise of blockchain-agnostic platforms such as RSK and Chainlink that are compatible with pretty much every blockchain and can enable users to interact with different blockchains at once without realizing it.
The next part of this guide deals with RSK’s approach to blockchain interoperability. We will discuss in detail how RSK is tackling the interoperability issue and what are its offerings geared toward the same.
RSK’s Approach to Blockchain Interoperability
RSK blockchain, the leading and the only Bitcoin-based smart contract platform has been instrumental in developing cross-bridge solutions to enable blockchain interoperability at a wider scale. To date, RSK has released numerous solutions geared toward blockchain interoperability. We will now discuss two of the major solutions offered by RSK to its community of developers and users to facilitate smoother blockchain interoperability.
Simply put, RIF Gateways is a suite of interoperability protocols designed to allow secure and tamper-proof transactions with the outside world. In essence, RIF Gateways offers an interface layer that brings together access to oracle services and cross-chain interactions thereby providing blockchains with a robust protocol that is implementation-agnostic for both the external and internal data consumption.
RIF Gateways uses the latest research on public ledgers and blockchains to implement the most widely-recognized industry solutions. At the same time, RIF Gateways offers a user-oriented unified API which reduces the complexity of implementing such technologies considerably. The suite of solutions is designed to bridge the gap between different siloed blockchains and enable data providers and consumers to seamlessly engage in secure and standardized data transfers, aiding a wide range of data consumption, subscription and payment models.
Within the umbrella term RIF Gateways, there exist three major offerings currently. These are, namely, RIF Name Services, RIF Storage and RIF Notifications.
RIF Name Services
RIF Name Services allows users to buy and sell RNS Domains via the RIF Marketplace. Beyond its primary use-case as a platform to buy and sell blockchain domains, RNS serves multiple purposes.
For instance, RNS enables users to send and receive digital assets without having to bother with complicated wallet addresses that are close to impossible to memorize. Rather, RNS makes this process easier by offering human-readable addresses that can be personalized according to the owner of the respective wallet.
Further, RNS can also be used from a mobile wallet thanks to its integration with rLogin and WalletConnect. For the uninitiated, rLogin is a blockchain digital identity solution developed by RSK blockchain that allows web application developers to integrate blockchain into their projects.
In addition, there is a wide range of other use-cases for RNS that include but are not limited to their application in DeFi, NFT and the development of a default multicoin resolver for all users.
RIF Storage is RSK blockchain’s solution to tackling the problem of lack of options of decentralized storage solutions. Indeed, the need for decentralized data storage solutions has never been more urgent as it provides numerous benefits over the traditional, centralized data storage solutions in terms of security, immutability, etc.
In a nutshell, RIF Storage is a unified protocol for decentralized storage solutions. Developed on the RSK smart contract platform and on top of the Bitcoin blockchain network, RIF Storage offers unparalleled security and censorship-resistant alternatives to centralized data storage solutions.
Lastly, there is RIF Notification Services which enables users to subscribe to blockchain events and trigger actions in the external world. RIF Notifications facilitate users to receive e-mails, SMS and API calls from different providers in a secure and efficient manner by permanently checking the blockchain status based on predefined configurations.
Through RIF Notifications, users can browse the available plans and create subscription for the notifications they require which include new blocks, new transactions and/or specific smart contract events. RIF Notifications service is implemented via a Smart Contract that manages Notification Subscriptions for consumers and providers in a transparent and decentralized manner. To give a quick overview of the process, the RIF Notifier service connects to the underlying blockchain, listens to new subscriptions and begins emitting notifications to users in an automated manner.
RSK-ETH Token Bridge
RSK boasts of an innovative cross-chain interoperability solution dubbed the RSK-ETH token bridge. The first of its kind solution, this interoperability bridge allows users cross ERC-20 tokens back and forth between both networks. The bridge essentially enables users to benefit from the lower fees of a secure network or different consensus as per their convenience.
Users can tap the RSK-ETH bridge to enjoy cross-chain transfers of ERC-20 tokens. This can be done by a decentralized application (dApp) as the original tokens are locked by the bridge smart contract on the original chain. Alternatively, users have the option to use the token bridge dApp together with Nifty Wallet or Metamask with a custom network to move tokens between the two networks.
At present, the RSK-ETH token bridge has a two-way bridge with Bitcoin enabling BTC holders to cross their holdings in RSK to interact with smart contracts. As mentioned earlier, the token bridge facilitates users to cross tokens from Ethereum to RSK thereby opening the doors for interoperability between the two largest public blockchains in the world today. What’s more, the RSK-ETH bridge gives users the opportunity to have the same token on multiple networks. For instance, Layer 2 solutions like SWARM or Oraclize and many others could receive the same token as payments in their respective networks.
Inching Towards Complete Decentralization
While the RSK-ETH token bridge in its first version is federated, it is far from being its final form. Thanks to the Open Zeppelin SDK, the bridge contract has been built as an upgradable contract. Notably, the RSK ecosystem is currently working to change the token bridge to be trustless and fully decentralized.
Finally, it is worth reiterating that there is an assigned federation that is in charge of notifying the events that have taken place in the bridge between one chain and the other. Notably, this federation comprises the creators of the token contracts who wish to enable their tokens for cross-chain movement.
Securing the RSK-ETH Bridge with Bitcoin
In case you missed it until now, it is worthy of note that given the fact that the RSK smart contract platform is built on top of Bitcoin’s blockchain, the RSK-ETH token bridge is also secured from the safety of the Bitcoin network which is arguably the strongest and most resilient blockchain network in the world today. Needless to say, this makes the RSK-ETH bridge the most secure token transfer bridge in the world courtesy of the Bitcoin network.
It is clear that to obtain true blockchain interoperability, open protocols are the way to go. The use of open protocols such as the RSK blockchain must go a long way to chart the future for blockchain interoperability solutions. There is a dire need to establish standardized pathways via which different blockchains can communicate with one another without any hindrance. In essence, the establishment of standards would ensure there is a universal language for all blockchains in the world to interact with each other through the transmission of critical information.
For example, look no further than the already discussed RSK-ETH bridge which allows users to swap assets between the two leading public blockchains with ease. The bridge acts as a decentralized escrow cross-chain making it possible for users to exchange assets from the Bitcoin-powered RSK network to the Ethereum network and vice-versa. Transactions on the RSK-ETH bridge take place without any involvement of any intermediary or middleman thereby saving on transaction fees and ensuring the user of the safety of the transaction they have initiated.
Through the use of multi-chain frameworks, blockchains can be used to simply plug into another blockchain and become part of a standardized ecosystem that is ready to share information with any blockchain it is integrated with.
To sum it all up, blockchain technology has come a long way from just existing within the Bitcoin network to now laying the foundation for a multi-trillion dollar industry that is only growing larger with each passing day. Blockchain interoperability will not only widen the scope of digital assets use but also play a key role in enabling mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. Moreover, blockchain interoperability will also enable one blockchain to tap the benefits of any other blockchain which might not necessarily be its domain or expertise and the like. Imagine Ethereum integrating with RSK to enjoy the benefits of Bitcoin’s secure network and RSK integrating with Polkadot to take advantage of high-speed cross-chain blockchain mechanics.
RSK has been a pioneering blockchain project that has cemented itself as one of the leading smart contract platforms courtesy of its hard-working community of developers and enthusiastic users that are always pushing the envelope. Now with its eyes on the cross-chain and blockchain interoperability landscape, RSK is committed to facilitating an ecosystem that is built on the ethos of cooperation rather than competition. The RSK-ETH token bridge is only one example of such an intent with the RSK ecosystem vying to deliver more such robust interoperability solutions to the industry.