Web3 is in its infancy, despite massive growth in demand and usage. New consensus mechanisms and smart contract languages are supporting new decentralized applications that aim to serve the next billion people. Today, there is a strong and rapidly growing demand for cross-chain services between these innovative ecosystems.
L1 blockchains offer fairly robust security guarantees, which are not passed on by the much weaker security guarantees of existing cross-chain infrastructure – one-to-one bridges that are often just multisigs between friends. There is a serious scaling problem here: bilateral bridges between N networks will require N² bridges. A universal network is needed, handling routing, translation and security on a universal basis between connected blockchains.
Today, there is a strong and rapidly growing demand for cross-chain services between these innovative ecosystems.
Compare that with the current state of Web2. When we use an app like Zoom, we have to consider issues such as the number of participants, buffering, screen sharing, etc. do not need to think about the underlying networking involved. With call participants potentially spread across the globe, many separate networks connect to allow us to communicate. Internet protocols like BGP bridge these networks to exchange data, and overlay networks like Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) provide the seamless experiences we expect. These protocols and service layers allow interoperability across networks, which is fundamental to the Web2 applications we use.
A Web3 overlay network, providing universal routing, translation, and security, is necessary for Web3 applications to be as scalable and seamless as Web2 applications are today.
Axelar is the universal overlay network, securely connecting all blockchain ecosystems, applications, assets and users to deliver Web3 interoperability. Axelar is comprised of a decentralized network of validators, secure gateway contracts, uniform translation, routing architecture, and a suite of software development kits (SDKs) and APIs. application (API) to enable composability between blockchains. This allows developers to rely on the best platform for their use case, while still being able to access users, resources, and applications in all other ecosystems. Instead of pairwise cross-chain bridges, they can rely on a network architecture that provides a uniform code base and governance structure.
Axelar’s ultimate goal is to build the underlying infrastructure to onboard the next billion people on Web3. To achieve this goal, Axelar will:
- Make it easy for blockchain developers to connect and communicate with other chains.
- Provide decentralized application (dApp) developers with cross-chain composability.
- Enable users to seamlessly interact with applications across multiple ecosystems.
Axelar SDKs provide a rich suite for developing Web3 applications, ensuring developers have the tools they need to build. Thanks to these tools and APIs, developers can use the Axelar network and its SDKs to write dApps that can be easily deployed on all ecosystems connected to Axelar. In other words, Axelar distils cross-chain interoperability into a simple set of API requests. This is absolutely critical to adoption, as the developer experience around deploying Web3 applications needs to be like the current experience for Web2 developers, where the underlying network-specific networking and deployment considerations ecosystem are largely ignored.
The developer experience around deploying Web3 applications should look like it does today for Web2 developers.
The Axelar network has three key components spread over two functional layers.
A decentralized network
The first is the decentralized network itself, supported by a set of validators responsible for maintaining the network and executing transactions. Validators run the Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol, which is a multi-party cryptography overlay that sits on top of Layer 1 blockchains. They are responsible for performing read and write operations on smart contracts gateways deployed on connected external channels, to vote and attest to events on these channels.
Gateway smart contracts
The second are gateways – smart contracts that provide connectivity between the Axelar network and its interconnected layer 1 blockchains. Validators monitor gateways for incoming transactions, which validators READ. They then reach a consensus on the validity of this transaction; once agreed, they write to the destination chain’s gateway to execute the cross-chain transaction. Validators and gateways make up the core infrastructure layer.
Above the validators and gateways are the APIs and SDKs (the libraries and tools that give developers easy access to the Axelar network). This is the application development layer that developers will use to dial across two chains in a single hop, adding universal interoperability to their blockchains and applications. With Axelar, they can lock, unlock and transfer assets between two addresses on two blockchain platforms, execute cross-chain application triggers and, more generally, manage all cross-chain requests.
This is the application development layer that developers will use to dial across two strings in a single hop.
The Axelar network has four main points of interaction.
The second is to run a node or validator, participating in the core underlying processes that secure the network and validating cross-chain transactions. Validator configuration documentation is available here.
The third is to lead or support the integration of a new blockchain with the Axelar network. With each new blockchain that connects to the Axelar network, the potential value Axelar can bring to developers and end users increases exponentially. As of this writing, adding new blockchains is not openly available as a feature for users of the Axelar network. However, this testnet demo shows the simplicity and user-friendliness of the process, which can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
The fourth is to use Axelar’s recently launched decentralized cross-chain asset transfer app, Satellite. At the time of writing, Satellite supports the transfer of native Terra assets such as Luna and UST between a set of Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and non-EVM blockchains: Avalanche, Ethereum, Fantom, Moonbeam, Polygon, and Terra. Support for other networks and assets will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months. Satellite demonstrates the potential transparency for the end user: users can trade assets in previously siled ecosystems, without any changes to the user interface.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen the Internet evolve into what it is today, with Web2 applications able to scale easily and provide users with a rich and seamless experience. We are now embarking on a new journey. Web3 is in its infancy. It is essential that developers are free to experiment with innovative programming languages, blockchain architectures and consensus mechanisms, without sacrificing user access and liquidity.
In its early days, Axelar bet on a multi-channel future. Today, this bet is validated, and the multi-channel future has become the present. However, ensuring that a multi-chain ecosystem can safely scale and support millions of users transacting billions of dollars is a difficult undertaking that requires a carefully built architecture. Current pairwise solutions are not up to the task.
Just as Akamai and CDN created game-changing opportunities in Web2, Axelar’s Universal Overlay Network will create game-changing opportunities in Web3.
Just as Akamai and CDN created game-changing opportunities in Web2, Axelar’s Universal Overlay Network will create game-changing opportunities in Web3, enabling secure and composable interoperability across all blockchain ecosystems. Just as Web2 developers can easily deploy their web applications to serve end users no matter what network they are on, Axelar’s APIs will allow developers to easily deploy Web3 applications on any L1 blockchain, without having to learn the specific considerations for each.
Axelar is the answer to the growing concern about cross-chain connectivity compromising the security guarantees of L1 blockchains. Axelar is the universal, decentralized transport layer, supported by permissionless validators and powered by Tendermint. It allows cross-chain applications to break out of the insecurity of ad-hoc bridges. As a universal overlay network, Axelar provides routing, translation and security between all blockchains, providing Web3 interoperability with maximum composability and security.