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Introduction to Bridges

February 4, 2022

Blockchain technology–the innovation that kick-started with Bitcoin and Ethereum–has now led to the creation of several blockchains, ranging from Layer 1 Networks (BSC, Avalanche, Fantom) to Layer 2 Networks (Arbitrum,Optimism) and sidechains (Polygon). As the number of blockchain networks increase, users need a way to seamlessly move their assets across these chains. This is the problem that bridges aim to tackle.

Each blockchain comes with unique functionalities and can be thought of as equivalent to cities with their own geography. Bridges are similar to roads or highways connecting these blockchain cities; they enable the movement of funds and data from one chain to another.

Since the web3 ecosystem is ever-expanding, new protocols and apps frequently launch natively on chains apart from Ethereum. In order to be a full participant in the latest DeFi protocols across various chains, learning to bridge assets between chains becomes a necessity.

Bridges and their Trade-offs

If we extend our analogy of web3 bridges being like highways between blockchain cities, there are many different routes between cities (bridge options) that users can choose from. Different routes will have different journey lengths (the amount of time for a transaction to be processed), and different bridges have different usage fees (tolls), and require different amounts of gas for your assets to reach the destination.

Other trade-offs might include:

  • Available liquidity: High liquidity of the token you are bridging at the destination chain gives lower bridge costs and slippage.
  • Token support: Some bridges only support bridging across a specific set of tokens.
  • Security: Bridges can be broadly categorized into “trustful” or “trustless.” Trustful bridges are usually centralized and rely on the centralized, organizing entity to maintain it, while trustless bridges are more decentralized. 

Choosing the Right Bridge

Bridge providers allow users the flexibility to choose between them based on requirements across costs and duration. Some popular bridge providers include Multichain, Hop Protocol, Connext, Synapse, and Across. Most chains, like Polygon and Arbitrum, also have their own native bridges.

The presence of multiple bridge providers with different fees and transaction duration that are updated in real-time means users have to do their own comparisons to find the cheapest or fastest routes. 

Similar to DEX aggregators like Paraswap, which automatically finds the cheapest swaps across DEXes so users don’t have to, bridge aggregators like FundMovr by Socket, LiFinance, and Rango aggregate all bridging options. This simplifies the process of finding the best bridge for users. Bridge aggregators thus act like Google Maps for the multi-chain world. 

Bridge through Zapper

Zapper’s recently relaunched in-app bridge, powered by Socket, finds the perfect bridging route between the chains supported by Zapper. 

Simply select the chain you want to bridge to and the tokens you wish to send/receive and click Bridge. Happy bridging!

Ready to put your knowledge into action?
Bridge your assets using Zapper!

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