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Crypto 101: Beginner’s Guide to Cross-Chain Atomic Swaps

Cross Chain Atomic Swap

Atomic swaps necessarily mean the ability to exchange digital assets throughout unique blockchain networks devoid of the involvement of central functions. This has piqued the desire of the crypto-local community considering the fact that early 2017. Atomic swaps are inherently unique from decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges due to the fact they depict a novel cryptographic protocol. Listed here two functions seamlessly and securely trade bitcoin or other electronic property devoid of the hazard of theft.

Atomic swaps develop a cryptographically encrypted escrow account that instantaneously refunds consumers if the trade does not manifest. Even if the trade concerning two traders is aborted, they acquire their cash again.

Cross-Chain Atomic Swaps: Protocol and Gateway

Centralized platforms and decentralized applications (dApps) do not will need to accomplish atomic swaps. Nonetheless, particular protocols are necessary to accomplish the transaction concerning two consumers on two unique blockchain networks in a protected method.

One particular these kinds of blockchain protocol is Waves that allows significant-scale atomic swaps concerning unique blockchains.

Atomic Swap

Atomic Swaps (Supply: Streams.lykke)

This protocol results in a procedure to help the getting and sending of tokens around unique blockchains. As a result, when Alice sends 1BTC to Bob, and he sends 77ETH again to her, the very same procedure ought to be in a position to retailer equally kinds of tokens. This is a correct atomic swap.

In comparison, quite a few exchanges which deliver one password entry to their consumers and enable them to keep quite a few kinds of cryptocurrencies in a one wallet stick to a unique system. At the backend, new wallets are established as for every the necessity of the person and are mapped to the user’s profile and password. This is not a correct atomic swap due to the fact there is no cross-chain conversation.

In an job interview, Ethan Heilman, the founder of Commonwealth Crypto and analysis fellow at Boston College concentrating on analysis and enhancement on blockchain technologies, said:

“While cross-chain atomic swap protocols for bitcoin-like blockchains have been regarded for a lot of decades quite very little function has been performed to make these kinds of atomic swaps simple and effortless for traders to use. I’m not knowledgeable of any program which presently allows consumers to conveniently accomplish cross-chain atomic swaps.”

atomic swap


Present Gateway Programs

Gateway programs are bridges for the trade of tokens. The current gateway programs enable the crossing around of one particular sort of token only. To transfer a different sort of token, a different gateway procedure has to be crafted. This action is redundant and wastes fuel as perfectly. Atomic swaps will switch this multiplicity of gateway programs with a one gateway procedure to enable the transfer of all sort of tokens.

Ordinarily, gateways enable tokens to be conveniently built-in into unique exchanges which guidance 3rd-get together nodes or are dependent on their possess blockchains. The extra usually applied phrase for these is payment gateways.

The enhancement group of the Waves system is making a community that can take care of gateway programs to streamline the system of participating in atomic swaps with other important blockchain networks like Ethereum.

Heilman said that although the solution of Waves system is important, there are protection fears which the builders of the procedure will have to deal with and strengthen. He even more emphasised that atomic swap protocols that are in a position to system electronic asset trades throughout bitcoin, litecoin, and other general public blockchain networks have been perfectly examined and are quite protected.

Cross Chain Atomic Swaps in Motion

A Waves-dependent blockchain job, Primalbase, applied cross-chain atomic swaps to simplify crypto-payments to book office spaces. They created Etherswap to help a one gateway for the transfer of ERC20 and WAVES tokens. In this circumstance, Etherswap is the gateway procedure that allows transactions devoid of the will need to develop two unique gateway programs for two unique blockchains.

*Etherswap is a token transfer procedure concerning the Ethereum blockchain (deal ERC20) and the Waves blockchain, to help the conversion of Primalbase tokens (PBT) from Waves tokens to ERC20 tokens, and the other way about.

To simplify, wallets are launched on just about every blockchain. The Ethereum ERC20 wallet accepts the ERC20 token (ERC20 PBT in our circumstance) although the Waves wallet accepts the Waves asset (Waves compliant PBT in our circumstance).

The tokens on equally blockchains are exclusive property, but the token offer is managed by the issuer.

So, PBT gets a gateway token that can be transferred around two blockchains — Waves and Ethereum.

The token movement follows the subsequent mechanics:

  1. The person results in a transaction to send tokens to either Waves or Ethereum wallet deal with. To ship tokens to an Ethereum deal with, the person need to have tokens in his/her Waves wallet and vice versa.
  2. To ship Waves-compliant tokens to Ethereum, the person sends the tokens to the selected Ethereum wallet deal with and vice versa.

Cross Chain Atomic Swap

Technical Architecture of a Cross-Chain Atomic Swap

Previously, to trade the token of one particular blockchain, e.g., bitcoin for a token of a different blockchain, say ether, one particular experienced to go to exchanges or solutions these kinds of as ShapeShift.

Now, the transactions are fully peer-to-peer with zero intermediaries in concerning. This is extra protected than DEXs which can be compromised to divert cash despatched to the very hot wallets for buying and selling.

What Does the Business Believe?

Elena Goldberg, the head of an Amsterdam R&D Lab, claimed in an job interview:

“We aided produce token Gateway operation from Waves to Ethereum and again. It permits token holders to retailer their tokens in unique wallets which guidance Ethereum. Furthermore, it opens doorways to ERC20 exchanges for the token.”

Waves founder and CEO Sasha Ivanov spelled out:

“[atomic swaps through a gateway] is a terrific way to transfer your tokens from Ethereum to Waves blockchain and the other way about. So if you are an Ethereum person and you are accustomed to applying Ethereum and you do not definitely want to appear into new blockchains, you can use Primalbase tokens.”


Atomic swaps assure to fully reduce counterparty hazard and the probability of theft.  Gateway programs these kinds of as the one particular spelled out previously mentioned are neither an trade, a blockchain or a payment processor.

As Heilman claimed, atomic swaps are most handy in letting consumers to trade devoid of counterparty hazard:

“You could use cross-chain atomic swaps for a decentralized trade. Nonetheless, I consider they are ideal suited for letting consumers to trade on a centralized trade although removing the counterparty hazard of that trade remaining hacked or shut down. This is due to the fact centralized exchanges guidance a quite significant quantity of trades letting speedy trades, liquidity, and correct charges. For these good reasons Commonwealth Crypto is partnering with centralized exchanges.”

Etherswap, Commonwealth Crypto, Primalbase, and Waves are some of the early adopters of atomic swaps and assignments that have commenced to strengthen the infrastructure about the technologies to strengthen its usability and bolster its adoption by consumers in the cryptocurrency marketplace.

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