What is blockchain interoperability | OWNR Wallet

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What is blockchain interoperability?

Blockchain interoperability has become a crucial topic as the adoption of blockchain technology expands across various industries, such as supply chain tracking and healthcare, and serves as the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The growing interest has led to a fragmented landscape in the blockchain industry, where users have to navigate through multiple incompatible technologies. While functionalities like executing smart contracts and transmitting tokens are inherent to individual blockchains, there's a need for interoperability solutions that enable seamless data exchange between different blockchains.

Interoperability, in the context of blockchains, involves a blockchain's ability to freely exchange data with other blockchains. This means that economic activities occurring on one blockchain can be represented and interact with another blockchain through interoperability solutions. The concept of trustless cryptocurrency exchange, demonstrated by atomic cross-chain swaps or atomic swaps, has been an early attempt at achieving blockchain interoperability. However, atomic swaps, while allowing token exchanges across blockchain boundaries, have limitations and require a counterparty for the token exchange.

What is cross-chain technology?

Cross-chain technology, a key aspect of achieving blockchain interoperability, refers to the capacity of a distributed ledger technology (DLT) design to exchange data with external systems or other DLT designs. Sharding is an example of cross-chain technology used to address issues like low throughput and scalability by dividing a distributed ledger into manageable chunks that can be processed in parallel. Cross-chain technology supports various use cases, including asset transfers between distributed ledgers, cross-chain oracles providing data from one ledger to another, and cross-chain smart contracts that initiate smart contract execution on another ledger.

Ripple is an example of a blockchain project exploring cross-chain transactions, particularly in the realm of settling cross-border payments for banks globally. Blockchain interoperability relies on cross-chain protocols that facilitate data sharing across multiple blockchain networks, enabling direct communication between users on compatible networks. Each network employs a unique approach to achieve blockchain interoperability, tailored to its specific requirements, and aims to facilitate transactions without relying on third-party interfaces.

In summary, blockchain interoperability is a critical aspect of ensuring seamless communication and data exchange between different blockchains, addressing the challenges posed by the current fragmented landscape in the blockchain industry.

How does blockchain interoperability work?

Atomic swaps, a mechanism allowing the exchange of tokens across different blockchains, are a notable feature in achieving blockchain interoperability. Additionally, blockchain networks employ relays to monitor activities on other chains, functioning on a chain-to-chain basis. This approach enables a single contract to act as a central client for nodes across multiple chains without the need for distributed nodes. While this facilitates the validation of central headers and transaction histories, maintaining the security of the relay approach incurs substantial costs.

Why is blockchain interoperability important?

Blockchain interoperability is crucial for addressing the challenge of assets and data interacting across diverse chains. Transactions are straightforward when parties use the same blockchain platform, but complexities arise when different blockchain platforms are involved. Achieving interoperability is expected to streamline transactions across blockchains, enabling seamless data and value exchange. Financial ecosystems operate on various blockchains, posing challenges for firms and clients to engage and transact across different blockchains. Blockchain interoperability is anticipated to alleviate such challenges, allowing for efficient, timely, and secure transfer of data and funds between economic ecosystems.

Several techniques contribute to achieving blockchain interoperability. Sidechains involve two active blockchains communicating through a cross-chain communication protocol, facilitating asset transfer between the main chain and sidechain. Notary schemes rely on third-party notaries to manage trust between transaction parties, often involving a centralized component. Oracles bridge the gap between on-chain and off-chain settings, ensuring off-chain data is fed to blockchain smart contracts. Blockchain routers facilitate communication between multiple blockchain networks, creating a trust bridge and enabling sub-chains to communicate through a cross-chain communication protocol. Industrial solutions, such as Polkadot and Cosmos, offer cross-chain interoperability protocols, allowing specialized sidechains to communicate with open blockchains. Hashed TimeLock Contracts (HTLC) are smart contracts with time-bound transactions, ensuring cryptographic proof of payment receipt within a defined window.

In summary, achieving blockchain interoperability involves a combination of techniques and protocols, each addressing specific challenges and contributing to the seamless exchange of data and value across diverse blockchain networks.

Benefits and Challenges of Blockchain Interoperability


  • Blockchain interoperability presents numerous advantages, unlocking new possibilities for various industries. One notable benefit is the ability to exchange data between private and public blockchains, enabling industries like law and healthcare to utilize interoperable smart contracts. This fosters the creation of Web3 platforms that were previously unattainable. The potential for multi-token transactions and streamlined wallet systems becomes achievable, enhancing the overall user experience in the cryptocurrency space.
  • Interoperability allows application-specific blockchains to communicate through a central decentralized hub. This connectivity facilitates the transfer of data and value between independent businesses, breaking down barriers between blockchains used by different companies and industries. It opens avenues for improved collaboration and information sharing.


  • Despite its advantages, blockchain interoperability poses challenges. The immutability of data once registered on a blockchain network means thorough data verification is crucial before initiating any transaction. The process of achieving interoperability is highly constrained, ensuring data security during transfer but not providing absolute guarantees in the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
  • Each blockchain ledger operates on a different trust model, with varying levels of support from miners. Transferring information from a less reliable ledger to a more robust one introduces potential vulnerabilities and inconsistencies, allowing external manipulation.

The Future of Blockchain Interoperability:

The future of blockchain technology and its applications, especially in cryptocurrencies, depends on the efficacy, efficiency, and usability of interoperability solutions. Ongoing projects like Cosmos and Polkadot are working towards enhancing interoperability, but for widespread use, they require further stability and integration.

To ensure seamless collaboration between different interoperability solutions, there is a growing demand for standards, APIs, and related technologies. Establishing a cohesive framework for extensive blockchain platform interoperability is essential for the harmonious coexistence of various interoperability initiatives.

Regulatory support is another critical factor influencing the future of interchain interoperability applications. Many countries do not yet recognize the legality of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, necessitating the development of legal and regulatory procedures to govern transactions, particularly in financial and related industries. A supportive regulatory environment will be instrumental in unlocking the full potential of blockchain interoperability in diverse sectors.

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