What Is Blockchain Interoperability?

Since the invention of Bitcoin, blockchain technology has grown into a wide range of decentralized networks. Each network, with its unique features and protocols, operates in its own silo. However, the true potential of blockchain technology lies in its ability to work collaboratively across various platforms and applications. This is where the concept of blockchain interoperability comes into play.

The importance of this interoperability for the development of the Web3 industry as a whole cannot be overstated. This shift not only enhances security and reduces reliance on single points of failure but also aligns with the ethos of Web3 – creating a more open, interconnected, and user-governed internet.

Blockchain Interoperability: Definition

Blockchain interoperability is the ability of different blockchain networks to communicate, share information, and conduct transactions with each other. Interoperability is not merely about asset transfer between blockchains. It's about creating an interconnected network where blockchains can understand and utilize each other's data, smart contracts, and unique features. This interconnectedness is essential for building a more robust and versatile blockchain ecosystem. Eventually, the strengths of one platform can complement and enhance the capabilities of others.

Why Is Interoperability Important?

The need for interoperability stems from the growing realization that no single blockchain can cater to all the diverse needs of the modern digital world. By enabling different blockchains to work together, interoperability opens up a realm of possibilities for innovation and efficiency in blockchain applications. It paves the way for a more integrated approach, where the collective power of these decentralized networks can be harnessed to create more comprehensive and effective solutions.

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Cross-Chain Technology (In Blockchain)

Cross chain crypto technology is a crucial element in the realm of distributed ledger technology (DLT). It enables interoperability among various blockchain networks.

The cross-chain technology facilitates the exchange of data and assets between different DLT projects or external systems. This exchange is not limited to assets but also includes valuable information that can improve the security and operational efficiency of DLT projects.

The interoperability between blockchain is ensured by the mechanisms called cross-chain oracles. Unlike asset transfers, cross-chain oracles focus on the exchange of information. They play a critical role in verifying events or transactions that occur on different blockchains. For instance, a cross-chain oracle can confirm the completion of a transaction on one blockchain to trigger a corresponding action on another.

Cross-chain technology also enables the execution of smart contracts across different blockchains. These interoperable smart contracts can initiate actions on a target chain, thereby increasing automation and operational efficiency. Unlike cross-chain oracles, these smart contracts actively issue transactions on the target chain, altering the state of the distributed ledger.

Blockchain Interoperability: How It Works?

Interoperability crypto solutions function through a series of advanced technical processes and protocols. The interoperability is achieved through the following steps:

  • Establishing Communication Channels. The first step in achieving interoperability is to establish reliable communication channels between different blockchain networks. It involves creating protocols that can interpret and translate the varying data formats and transaction rules of each blockchain. The purpose is to allow blockchains to understand and respond to each other's requests.
  • Ensuring Secure Asset Transfer. A critical component of interoperability is the secure transfer of assets between blockchains. It requires a robust mechanism to validate and record transactions across different ledgers.
  • Leveraging Smart Contracts for Cross-Chain Interactions. Smart contracts are used to automate and enforce the terms of interactions between blockchains. These self-executing contracts ensure that the conditions agreed upon by the participating networks are met before any transaction or data exchange is finalized.
  • Maintaining Network Integrity and Security. The security and integrity of each participating blockchain is maintained by security protocols. They protect against unauthorized access and fraudulent activities, while also ensuring that the autonomy and rules of each blockchain are adhered to.
  • Facilitating Data Sharing and Collaboration. Beyond asset transfers, interoperability enables blockchains to share a wide range of data, from transaction histories to contract states. This sharing enhances the functionality and utility of blockchain networks, allowing them to collaborate on various applications and services.
  • Creating a Unified Ecosystem. The ultimate goal of blockchain interoperability — blockchain networks operating in synergy. This interconnected environment would allow for more complex and sophisticated applications, driving innovation and efficiency in the blockchain space.

How is Blockchain Interoperability Achieved?

Achieving blockchain interoperability involves several technical approaches and innovations. The primary goal is to ensure that different blockchain networks can interact without losing their inherent security and efficiency.


Sidechains function as independent blockchains that are linked to a parent blockchain via a two-way peg. This connection is essential for the secure and efficient transfer of assets and data between the main chain and the sidechain.

They operate under their own consensus mechanisms and protocols, offering a level of customization and flexibility not always possible on the main chain. Sidechains improve the overall performance of the main blockchain by offloading transactions and operations. As a result, the processing times become faster and transaction fees become lower. They also provide a controlled environment for innovation, allowing developers to test new features and applications without impacting the main blockchain's stability.

A notable example is the Liquid Network by Blockstream, a side chain pegged to the Bitcoin blockchain. It is designed to facilitate faster and more confidential Bitcoin transactions.

Sidechains - Peg In
Source: Liquid
Sidechains - Peg Out
Source: Liquid

Another example is the Loom Network, which focuses on large-scale online games and social apps, acting as a Layer 2 scaling solution for different networks.

 Loom Network
Source: Loomx

Notary Schemes

Notary schemes act as trust-based mechanisms that facilitate communication and transaction validation between diverse blockchain networks. These schemes rely on trusted entities, known as notaries, who verify and relay information across blockchains. As intermediaries, notaries ensure the authenticity of transactions and the integrity of the data being transferred.

Notary Schemes
Source: Sciencedirect

Notary schemes are particularly beneficial in scenarios where direct chain-to-chain communication is impractical due to differences in protocols, consensus mechanisms, or security requirements. They provide a vital layer of oversight and validation, especially important in cross-chain transactions, helping to mitigate risks associated with transferring assets or data between different networks.

An example of a blockchain network using notary schemes is Wanchain. This platform employs notary schemes to facilitate cross-chain transactions, enabling the exchange of value and information between different blockchain networks effectively.

Despite their advantages, notary schemes introduce a degree of centralization, contrasting with the decentralized nature of many blockchain systems. The effectiveness of these schemes largely depends on the trustworthiness and reliability of the notaries, making their selection a critical factor for success.


Oracles are third-party services that supply external data to smart contracts on blockchain networks. In an interoperable blockchain, oracles are crucial for providing information or triggering events based on conditions from another blockchain. They facilitate cross chain interoperability and enhance smart contract functionality across different platforms.

Oracles enable the smart contracts to interact with and respond to real-world events and data. This is especially important when a smart contract on one blockchain needs to execute actions based on events or states from another blockchain. For example, an oracle might monitor a specific condition on one blockchain and relay that information to a smart contract on another blockchain, initiating predefined actions when certain criteria are met.

Examples of oracles in action include Chainlink, which provides reliable data feeds for smart contracts on various blockchains, enhancing their ability to execute based on accurate and timely information.

Source: Chain link

Another example is Band Protocol, which aggregates and connects real-world data and APIs to smart contracts, facilitating more complex, interconnected blockchain applications.

Oracles enable dynamic and responsive smart contracts that can operate based on a wide range of external inputs and conditions. Thus, oracles expand potential use cases of smart contracts and enhance their versatility.

However, reliance on oracles introduces a dependency on external information sources, which can be a vulnerability. The accuracy and reliability of data provided by oracles are critical, as misinformation can lead to incorrect smart contract execution. Therefore, ensuring the integrity and security of oracles is a key consideration in their use for blockchain interoperability.

Blockchain Routers

Blockchain routers connect different blockchain networks, allowing them to communicate with each other seamlessly. This is crucial in a landscape where numerous blockchain platforms operate with their own unique protocols and standards. Blockchain routers effectively bridge these differences, making it possible for these diverse systems to interact and exchange information and value.

An example of a blockchain router in action is the Cosmos Network, which uses the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol to allow different blockchains to transfer tokens and other data among each other. Another example is Polkadot's Relay Chain, which connects various blockchains, allowing them to share information and functionality while maintaining their individual sovereignty.

By enabling different networks to interact, routers expand the potential applications and use cases for blockchain technology, making it more versatile and accessible. At the same time, the effectiveness of blockchain routers depends on their ability to maintain high security and reliability standards. Thus, ensuring robust security protocols is essential to prevent vulnerabilities and maintain trust in the system.

Industrial Solutions

In the realm of blockchain interoperability, “industrial solutions” refer to large-scale, interoperability blockchain projects that are designed to address interoperability at a fundamental level. These solutions, often termed as Layer 0 protocols, are crucial in creating a unified and efficient blockchain ecosystem. Key examples include Polkadot, Cosmos, and Avalanche.

Industrial Solutions
Source: Medium
  • Polkadot is designed to enable different blockchains to communicate and share information seamlessly. It achieves this through its unique architecture of a central relay chain and multiple parachains, each of which can have its own tokens, governance, and characteristics.
  • Cosmos focuses on creating an 'Internet of Blockchains'. It utilizes the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol to allow various independent blockchains to exchange data and transactions in a decentralized way.
  • Avalanche supports multiple custom blockchain networks that can interoperate efficiently. It's designed to cater to a wide range of applications, from DeFi to enterprise solutions.

By addressing interoperability at a foundational level, the above-mentioned projects pave the way for a more interconnected and efficient blockchain ecosystem.

Hashed TimeLocks

Hashed TimeLocks (HTLCs) play a crucial role in ensuring that transactions are completed within a specified timeframe. Thereby, they add a significant layer of security and trust to the interoperability process.

HTLCs operate by setting a time-bound condition for a transaction. This condition mandates that the recipient of a transaction must acknowledge receipt within a predetermined period. If the recipient fails to confirm the transaction within this timeframe, the transaction is automatically reversed, and the funds are returned to the sender. This mechanism is particularly valuable in scenarios involving cross-chain transactions, where timing and trust are of utmost importance.

Hashed TimeLocks
Source: Wallstreetmojo

A practical example of HTLCs in action is seen in the Lightning Network, a layer-2 solution on the Bitcoin blockchain. The Lightning Network utilizes HTLCs to enable faster and more efficient transactions. Here, HTLCs ensure that Bitcoin transactions are completed swiftly and securely, significantly reducing the time and fees associated with traditional BTC transactions.

The technical implementation of HTLCs involves cryptographic hash functions. When a transaction is initiated, a cryptographic hash is generated. The recipient must provide the correct preimage of this hash to unlock and claim the transaction. This process ensures that only the intended recipient can access the funds, and only within the set time limit.

Atomic Swaps

Atomic Swaps enable the exchange of cryptocurrencies across different blockchains without relying on intermediaries. This method is pivotal for facilitating direct peer-to-peer trading, thereby significantly enhancing the decentralization and efficiency of cross-chain transactions.

The essence of Atomic Swaps lies in their ability to allow two parties to exchange different cryptocurrencies in a trustless environment. This is achieved through the use of smart contracts that enforce the rules of the swap. These contracts ensure that either both parties fulfill their part of the trade, or the transaction is automatically nullified. Hence, the term 'atomic' – implying that the swap occurs entirely or not at all.

A notable example of Atomic Swaps in action is between the Bitcoin and Litecoin blockchains. Users can seamlessly swap Bitcoin for Litecoin and vice versa without needing a centralized exchange. This is made possible through the use of HTLCs, which are integral to the Atomic Swap process. HTLCs ensure that the swap occurs within a specific timeframe, adding a layer of security and trust to the transaction.

Atomic Swaps
Source: Wallstreetmojo

The implementation of Atomic Swaps eliminates the need for centralized exchanges, reducing the risks associated with them, such as hacking and fraud. Moreover, it opens up new possibilities for decentralized trading, allowing users to maintain control over their funds throughout the transaction process.

Types of Blockchain Interoperability Solutions

Blockchain interoperability encompasses a range of solutions and technologies designed to enable seamless interaction between different blockchain networks. Here are the key types of interoperability solutions:

  1. Cross-Chain Protocols and Platforms: They are comprehensive systems and standards for facilitating communication and transactions between blockchains. Examples include Polkadot and Cosmos, which connect multiple blockchains into a unified network.
  2. Token Exchange Mechanisms: The trading of tokens between different blockchains, often enabled by atomic swaps or cross-chain automated market makers (AMMs).
  3. Token Bridging Services: These services allow for the transfer of tokens between blockchains using smart contracts. They include lock and issue token bridges, burning and issuing token bridges, and locking and unlocking token bridges.
  4. State Channels: Off-chain transaction mechanisms that maintain blockchain integrity and security, useful for reducing load and costs on the main blockchain.
  5. Blockchain Relays: They act as intermediaries, enabling one blockchain to verify and communicate events and transactions from another blockchain.
  6. Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) Protocols: Designed for secure and verifiable transfer of information and assets between independent blockchains.
  7. Blockchain Agnostic Protocols: Universal frameworks that facilitate interoperability across multiple blockchain platforms, such as Chainlink.
  8. Layer 2 Scaling Solutions: Solutions like Plasma and Rollups that handle transactions off the main chain, improving throughput and cross-chain interaction efficiency.

Each of these solutions represents a distinct approach to achieving interoperability in the blockchain ecosystem, contributing to a more integrated, functional, and versatile network of blockchain platforms.

The Risk of Blockchain Interoperability

Blockchain interoperability, while offering numerous benefits, also has certain risks that need careful consideration. The primary concern revolves around security vulnerabilities. As blockchains begin to interact and share data, the risk for potential attacks or exploits increases.

One of the possible risks is the potential for exploitation through the interoperability interfaces themselves. If not designed and implemented with robust security measures, these interfaces could become weak points, allowing malicious actors to manipulate or corrupt the data being exchanged.

Additionally, the reliance on third-party solutions or intermediaries for interoperability can introduce additional layers of risk, especially if these parties are not completely trustworthy or if their security measures are inadequate.

Pros & Cons

Let’s summarize advantages and disadvantages of interoperability.


  1. Enhanced Efficiency: Interoperability allows for smoother and faster transactions across different blockchain networks, improving overall efficiency.
  2. Innovation: It opens up new possibilities for innovative applications and services that leverage the strengths of multiple blockchains.
  3. Collaboration Opportunities: Interoperability fosters collaboration between different blockchain projects, leading to a more cohesive ecosystem.


  1. Security Risks: As mentioned, the increased complexity and interconnectedness can lead to new security vulnerabilities.
  2. Complexity: Implementing interoperability solutions can be technically challenging, requiring significant resources and expertise.
  3. Potential for Fragmentation: While interoperability aims to connect different blockchains, it could also lead to fragmentation if not implemented with a universal or standardized approach. This could result in a plethora of incompatible solutions, each catering to specific blockchains but not interoperable with others.

Final Thoughts

Crypto interoperability represents a significant step forward in the evolution of blockchain technology. It offers the potential for a more interconnected and versatile digital ecosystem, paving the way for innovative applications and collaborations across various industries.

*This communication is intended as strictly informational, and nothing herein constitutes an offer or a recommendation to buy, sell, or retain any specific product, security or investment, or to utilise or refrain from utilising any particular service. The use of the products and services referred to herein may be subject to certain limitations in specific jurisdictions. This communication does not constitute and shall under no circumstances be deemed to constitute investment advice. This communication is not intended to constitute a public offering of securities within the meaning of any applicable legislation.