Blockchain: Axelar Network, the future of multi-chains

What is the Axelar network?

The Axelar team has launched its mainnet in phases at the end of January, as well as Satellite, the first dApp that allows users to transfer assets between several chains including Ethereum, Cosmos, Terra, Avalanche, Polygon and Famtom. Other partners are in development.

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, routing architecture, and a suite of software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable compatibility between blockchains. With this, developers can build on the best platform for their use case, while still being able to access users, assets, and applications in every other ecosystem. Instead of pairwise cross-chain gateways, 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 easier for blockchain developers to connect and communicate with other chains.
  • Provide decentralized application (dApp) developers with cross-chain compatibility.
  • Enable users to seamlessly interact with applications from multiple ecosystems.
  • Axelar’s 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 in all ecosystems connected to Axelar. In other words, Axelar reduces cross-chain interoperability to a simple set of API requests. This is absolutely critical for adoption, as the developer experience of deploying Web3 applications should resemble the experience of Web2 developers today. That is, where underlying networking and ecosystem-specific deployment considerations are largely abstracted.

Axelar core protocols:

The CGP (Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol) will allow the routing of data packets between the different networks. It has the ability to write on all types of blocks, without distinction or limit of consensus or language. The CTP (Cross-chain Transfer Protocol) allows developers to connect their Dapps to different blockchains. The module will then take care of sending all the desired requests in API format.

With this in mind, we can see how the Cross-Chain Gateway (CGP) protocol connects an unlimited number of autonomous blockchain ecosystems to each other:

Similarly, the Inter-Chain Transfer Protocol (CTP) can be used by developers to make cross-chain requests:

End users can use CTP to access any application on any channel and interact with it via simple API calls (analogous to HTTP GET/POST requests).
In short, CTP enables composability of programs on blockchain platforms.
Diagram of the Axelar technology layer: a set of developer tools and APIs on top of a decentralized network providing universal routing, conversion, and security between two blockchains.

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 who are responsible for maintaining the network and executing transactions. Validators run the cross-chain gateway protocol. They are responsible for performing read and write operations on the smart contracts of the gateway deployed on the connected external channels, to vote and to 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 blockchains. Validators monitor gateways for incoming transactions, which validators read. They then come to a consensus on the validity of the transaction; once this agreement is obtained, they write to the gateway of the destination chain to execute the cross-chain transaction. Validators and gateways are the core infrastructure layer.
  • Tools for developers: Above the validators and gateways are the APIs and SDKs (the libraries and tools that allow developers to easily access 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. Using Axelar, they can lock, unlock, and transfer assets between any two addresses on any two blockchain platforms, run cross-chain application triggers, and more generally process all cross-chain requests.

The first is the SDK described above, which developers will use to integrate their Web3 applications.

The second is to run a node or validator, which participates in the fundamental underlying processes that secure the network and validate cross-chain transactions. Stakelab will be ready for launch.

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 provide to developers and end users grows exponentially. As of this writing, adding new blockchains is not an openly available feature for users of the Axelar network. However, this testnet demo demonstrates the simplicity and developer-friendliness of the process, which can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

The fourth solution is to use Satellite, the decentralized multi-chain asset transfer application recently launched by Axelar. At the time of writing, Satellite allows native Terra assets, such as Luna and UST, to be transferred between a set of blockchains Ethereum VirtualMachine (EVM) and non-EVM: 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 of end-user transparency: users can trade assets across previously siled ecosystems, without any changes to the user interface.

Axelar Satellite interface:

Cross-channel transfer on the Satellite app demonstrates Axelar’s universal interoperability capability. It only takes about ten minutes to transfer from one channel to another.

Conclusion:

Axelar presents itself as the ultimate cross-chain communication layer. It should allow developers to easily integrate multiple chains for their decentralized applications, to access the liquidity of these different networks as well as to reach as many users as possible. The future of cryptos is multi-chain.

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Quentin Durand

I am convinced that the next few years will be those of cryptocurrency and the metaverse. Passionate about the Tendermint Cosmos ecosystem and NFTs, I will share my knowledge. Co-founder of Stakelab.fr

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Blockchain: Axelar Network, the future of multi-chains


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