3 Best Cross-Chain Swap Protocols for 2024: Token Trading Across Multiple Blockchains

Gino Winnefeld
February 6, 2024

Imagine blockchain networks as different cities, each with their unique regulations, currency, and communication modes. In this context, a cross-chain swap protocol acts like an airport, establishing a nexus between these diverse cities. Airports facilitate the movement, interaction, and trade between people from different cities by offering a standardized set of protocols, such as visa regulations, currency exchange services, and flight schedules. Similarly, cross-chain protocols enable different blockchains to exchange assets, communicate, and share data.

Just as a well-run airport can streamline travel and unlock new opportunities for commerce and tourism, a well designed cross-chain protocol can significantly enhance interoperability among various blockchain networks, expanding the horizons for users and developers.

In this blog post, we'll explore the inner workings of cross-chain swaps, delve into the most recent developments in the field, and highlight some of the top projects to keep an eye on in 2024. Whether you're interested in incorporating cross-chain features into your application, contemplating investments in cross-chain and interoperability, or simply looking to bridge assets across different blockchains, you've come to the right place.

Challenges and Risks in Cross-Chain Swaps

Cross-chain bridge vulnerabilities are a major challenge in cross-chain swaps, leading to significant security breaches. In 2022, these breaches resulted in nearly a billion dollars in losses, accounting for 69% of the total crypto sector theft for that year. The complexity of bridge technology and reliance on external intermediaries increases the risk of such incidents. Additionally, the user experience in executing cross-chain swaps is often complex, impacting wider adoption. Market volatility also presents financial risks during swaps. Addressing these challenges is critical for the secure and efficient operation of cross-chain swaps.

How do Cross-Chain Swaps Work?

To provide some context, cross-chain bridges and interoperability protocols are not limited to just transferring token X from chain A to chain B. They open up a multitude of possibilities across blockchains, including transfer of arbitrary data, such as smart contracts, and messages, calling a contract on one blockchain from another, governance actions, and voting across different blockchains, the creation of cross-chain DEXes and liquidity protocols, more complex financial operations like cross-chain yield aggregation and lending, and cross-chain functionalities in gaming and metaverse applications.

Every protocol offers its own method for facilitating cross-chain swaps, each with varying degrees of security, reliance on trust, and influence within the network. When deciding on a protocol for a specific task, it really boils down to what the developer or user needs. This includes which blockchains they wish to engage with, the kind of data or assets they're looking to move, and how much they value security and decentralisation.

Leading Cross-Chain Swap Protocols in 2024

It's time to take a closer look at the most established cross-chain protocols currently facilitating connections among the top blockchains, selected based on their trading volume, user engagement, and user community. Plus, if you're interested in discovering new and top-notch projects early on, we'll introduce a protocol that takes a distinctive approach to enhance security, speed, and cost-effectiveness in cross-chain swaps.

Leveraging data from DefiLlama, we find that the top three interoperability protocols are Across, Stargate, and Hop Protocol.

Across

Across protocol is a novel bridging method that combines an optimistic oracle, bonded relayers and single-sided liquidity pools to provide decentralized instant transactions from rollup chains to Ethereum mainnet.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AcrossProtocol

Docs: https://docs.across.to

Token: https://coinmarketcap.com/es/currencies/across-protocol

This screenshot taken from DefiLlama showcases the Across (ACX) project's financial data, highlighting a TVL of $110.79m and a significant uptrend in value as of January 19, 2024.

Check out the real-time data here: https://defillama.com/protocol/across

Stargate

Stargate is a fully composable liquidity transport protocol that lives at the heart of Omnichain DeFi. With Stargate, users & dApps can transfer native assets cross-chain while accessing the protocol’s unified liquidity pools with instant guaranteed finality.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StargateFinance

Docs: https://stargateprotocol.gitbook.io/stargate/v/user-docs

Token: https://coinmarketcap.com/es/currencies/stargate-finance

This DefiLlama screenshot reveals Stargate (STG)'s financial overview with a TVL of $362.34m and a Market Cap of $110.59m as of January 19, 2024.

Check out the real-time data here: https://defillama.com/protocol/stargate?bridgeVolume=true

Hop Protocol

A protocol for sending tokens across rollups and their shared layer-1 network in a quick and trustless manner.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HopProtocol

Docs: https://docs.hop.exchange

Token: https://coinmarketcap.com/es/currencies/hop-exchange

This DefiLlama snapshot indicates that Hop Protocol (HOP) has a TVL of $59.14m, with a market valuation of $3.17m as of January 19, 2024.

Check out the real-time data here: https://defillama.com/protocol/hop-protocol

t3rn

The world of blockchain is constantly evolving, just like the rest of technology. Think about your phone – it's significantly improved in just a few years. Bitcoin was introduced in 2009, and if you had the latest iPhone that year, it looked like this:

Today, we're observing the creation of Layer 2 solutions, DeFi (Decentralized Finance), NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), and more being developed on blockchain platforms. The initial attempts at blockchain bridges had their flaws, but they represented the early stages of a complex technology. The landscape of blockchain interoperability is being transformed by innovative platforms like t3rn, which deliver solutions that are not only secure and quick but also cost-efficient. t3rn distinguishes itself as a smart contract hosting platform, specializing in consistent and secure multichain transactions.

The core features are:

  1. Enhanced Security with Trustless Validation: t3rn maintains high security and trustless validations through Rangers. These specialized participants continuously monitor connected blockchains, submitting the latest block headers to the t3rn Circuit.
  2. Multichain Smart Contract Executions: t3rn enables smart contracts to perform transactions across multiple blockchain networks, ensuring fail-safe operations and expanded functionality.
  3. Support for Multiple Languages: Developers can write smart contracts in Solidity, !ink, or any language that compiles to WASM. t3rn supports both WASM and EVM, offering versatility in development.
  4. Open-Source Registry: Smart contracts on t3rn are stored in an open-source registry, making them accessible for reuse and development by the broader community.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the domain of cross-chain swaps is advancing rapidly, mirroring the ongoing evolution within the broader blockchain landscape. The transition from centralized exchanges (CEX) to decentralized (DEX), interoperable solutions marks a pivotal moment in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

In closing, here’s a quote from Maciej Baj, Founder and CTO at t3rn:

“I believe that finally arriving at seamless interoperability will be a key driver for broader adoption across various industries. As blockchain ecosystems become more interoperable, it will not only be easier to transfer assets and data across different chains but also far cheaper than it currently is.”

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