What is cross-chain? Why Axelar?

3 min readJan 13, 2022

What is cross-chain?

In a nutshell, a cross-chain is the interoperability between two relatively independent blockchains. In other words, it allows blockchains to speak to one another because they’re built in a standardized way [4]. Cross-chain implementation may be also perceived as a representation of asset swap and asset transfer. The key idea behind a cross-chain is to make a wall between initially separate blockchains as transparent as possible.

There is a great explanation on cross-chain for non-crypto people [5]:

To better understand cross-chain, consider this example: every country has their own legal tender. USD can not be used in China, and RMB can not be used in the US. The legal tender of different countries can not be transferred easily, since their currency systems are independent of each other, much like the blockchain ecosystem today. BTC cannot be transferred to ETH directly, since they are from different blockchain systems. But with cross-chain technology, different tokens and data from various blockchains can be transferred easily.

A benefit for a common crypto user is quit obvious now: cross-chain technology allows to overcome common trade-offs among distributed platforms and tap into the benefits of various consensus mechanisms so they could get the best of all worlds [3].

Why Axelar?

Axelar network develops a product that aims simplicity and usability. It provides a uniform solution to cross-chain communication that meets the needs of both platform developers — no integration work is required from them, and application builders — one simple protocol and API to access global liquidity and communicate with the entire ecosystem [2]. That means it will be usable by both tech and non-tech folks, which may trigger its adoption.

To say few words on it technical solution, Axelar network consists of a decentralized network, which bridges blockchain ecosystems that speak different languages and a protocol suite with APIs on top, making it easy for applications to perform cross-chain requests. The network connects existing stand-alone blockchains such as Bitcoin, Stellar, Terra, Algorand, and interoperability hubs such as solutions like Cosmos, Avalanche, Ethereum, and Polkadot [2]. Not only Ethereum or Bitcoin. Axelar will join all top blockchains, hence it should be one of the most convenient solution. That stands for the top-level of user-friendliness approach and chance to transfer digital assets using a sole utility.

Above example is a testnet case, which continued for quit a long time, since performance and security had to be tested, verified and approved. That being said, Axelar network addresses the security concerns using the following mechanisms [2]:

  • Maximum Safety.
  • Maximum Decentralization.
  • Robust Fall-back Mechanisms.
  • Maximum Decentralization of Fall-Back Mechanisms.
  • Shared Governance.

However, all of that exists not only on a paper. On 11 Jan, 2022 Axelar Network announced the start of the Axelar Mainnet Rollout after over a year in the development process [7].

The core of any project — its team. Axelar has been founded by Sergey Gorbunov and Georgios Vlachos, both are specialists that have been related to IBM, MIT, etc. Do we need more? Yes, engineering stuff looks decent as well, one can get more details using LinkedIn.

And the final step — backers. I will leave it here, it is self-descriptive: