nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

The architecture for sharing tokens across blockchains promises traction

After lightning fundraising round, Cosmos puts Ethereum high on dev roadmap

By Andrew Silver, 15 Sep 2017

In April, the Cosmos project raised about $17m in half an hour on the promise to someday let users freely share tokens among Bitcoin, Ethereum and other popular blockchain protocols.

On Friday at the Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai, China, the Switzerland-based nonprofit behind it committed that Ethereum support is high on its development roadmap.

One of the problems with blockchain platforms is that there are so many – from JP Morgan's finance-focused Quorum to The Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric. As the wars for dominance are still young, it's not clear yet how many players will stick around, Jacob Eberhardt, a computer science PhD student at Technical University of Berlin in Germany studying Blockchain, told The Register.

Some developers are trying to find ways to join separate blockchain pieces so you'd be able to flow relatively freely from one to the other. Polkadot, for example, wants to allow smart contracts – privacy-preserving digital contracts directly between parties that execute based on the terms – to interact with each other for tasks such as sharing computations.

Cosmos is like a special, laser-focused version of Polkadot for specifically sharing assets between blockchains. The idea is that there would be a central hub that manages the transfer of tokens between two different protocols, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In the new announcement, Cosmos's parent, Interchain Foundation, committed that connecting to Ethereum chains is "high priority" on its roadmap. Further, it will create a special cryptocurrency token that can copy the account balances of Ethereum holders and move them into the Cosmos chain, where they can be redeemed (the other tokens the architecture will use for "staking" are promised not to conflict with Ethereum).

"It's a strategically good move," Eberhardt said, because most blockchain prototypes are with Ethereum and it's probably the most public of all the alternatives. Although "significance is hard to judge from a technical standpoint as of now, since there is little detail provided."

Gavin Wood, an Ethereum co-founder who proposed Polkadot and is collaborating with the Cosmos team to make sure the two networks can work together, told The Register, "I guess this is meant to be evidence of their commitment to make [Bitcoin and Ethereum chain connection] happen."

However, "there's quite a bit of optimism which perhaps doesn't quite reflect the magnitude of the task at hand," he said. "When I see a deployed, functional public testnet that has solid security guarantees, then I'll be impressed."

According to Cosmos, its mainnet is slated to go live in December. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing