Remember Star Wars with its multiple galaxies? Imagine bridges as the ships that bring assets from one galaxy to another. Although, in this case, a blockchain isn’t a galaxy far far away, but rather a combination of multiple galaxies in play. Similar to the Galactic Republic, trade between galaxies is encouraged for economies to flourish.
If you’re focused on one blockchain like Ethereum but want to explore other chains like Solana or BNB Chain, bridging is the best strategy. You can make the most out of decentralized finance (DeFi) by maximizing your liquidity across different protocols, and bridges allow that.
What is Blockchain Bridging?
Blockchain bridging involves transferring assets from one blockchain to another. A blockchain bridge can also be called a cross-chain bridge, which is a link that allows two different protocols to send cryptocurrency between one another.
A common rookie mistake is sending cryptocurrency from one network to another without any integration. Like everything in blockchain, inputs have to be exact to the dot; and inputting a wrong address or sending assets to a wrong blockchain will likely result in the loss of assets forever.
Is Bridging Safe?
Bridging is a secure way to move assets in between chains, but it does come with a common vulnerability—human error. But as long as you bridge your assets properly, the risk is minimal and you’ll most likely see your funds right away (depending on blockchain speed).
Risks of Bridging Assets
For full disclosure purposes, we’ve listed the different risks of bridging cryptocurrencies from one blockchain to another. Here they are:
- Misplacing a wallet address: Getting the wrong address down and pushing through with the transaction can result in your assets being lost forever.
- Using the wrong portal: The same risk of losing your assets forever can happen with the wrong portal.
- Sending cryptos that can’t be wrapped: Not all cryptocurrencies support cross-blockchain bridging, especially tokens.
If losing your crypto forever sounds alarming, we also have some tips on how to properly bridge your crypto.
How to Bridge Assets Securely
Before bridging your assets from one blockchain to another, treat the next steps as commandments to make sure you don’t lose your tokens forever.
- Triple-check your wallet address: Make sure to triple-check both the sending and receiving wallet addresses before making a transaction.
- Use trusted portals: Use reliable bridging services and never fall prey to the zero-gas-fee scams being peddled across the web. There is no such thing as free lunch and paying a fair amount is better than risking your assets on shady platforms.
- Send the right cryptocurrencies: Not all cryptocurrencies are capable of cross-chain transactions. Make sure to verify before transferring.
What are Cross-Chain Bridges?
Cross-chain bridges or blockchain bridges are services that allow users to send assets from one blockchain to another. These services charge a fee to transfer wrapped crypto, bridge tokens, or use other methods of inter-chain transfer.
For example, if you transfer ETH from the Ethereum blockchain to the Solana blockchain, you’ll need to convert it to wrapped Ethereum (or WETH) first, so it can run on the Solana blockchain.
If the main asset cannot be bridged to another chain, there is mostly a token available for you to use as a bridging asset.
How Does Crypto Bridging Work?
Crypto bridging relies on assets that already exist in two separate blockchains, which allow you to transfer value in between. To put it simply, bridging assets involves transferring value, not just crypto.
When a bridging transaction is made, you’ll be utilizing assets on both the sending and receiving blockchain to transfer value from each other. These assets vary depending on blockchain pairs.
There are three possible methods for bridging between chains, which vary depending on the blockchain pair.
Wrapping a Cryptocurrency
Wrapping crypto means allowing its value to transfer to another chain apart from its native one. Wrapped tokens are created by minting and burning. In order to mint or create wrapped tokens, the equivalent in its native chain has to be sent to a custodian that’s responsible for storing the digital value.
For example, in order to bridge ETH from the Ethereum to the Solana blockchain, you’ll have to exchange your ETH for WETH. Wrapped crypto offers a 1:1 asset value on the sending blockchain (usually the native blockchain) and the receiving blockchain.
This means that in the case of Ethereum and Solana, Wrapped Ethereum or WETH has the same value as ETH.
Using a Bridging Token
Some tokens exist in multiple -blockchains by default, which makes them a lot easier to move across protocols. If a multichain token exists in two particular blockchains, you can trade the token on its native protocol to receive the token in the other network.
An example of this is ABR or the Allbridge token, which exists on multiple blockchains. In order to carry out a bridging transaction, you’ll have to purchase ABR from one blockchain and receive it in the wallet of the other blockchain.
This is the most simplified form of bridging as it involves using your crypto in one blockchain to purchase crypto in another blockchain. This allows you to exchange crypto directly but the downside is that unlike wrapping, price fluctuation could result in you getting less than you pay for.
An example of this is bridging Ethereum to Tezos. Since there is no bridging token, you’ll have to use your ETH to purchase XTZ on bridges like SimpleSwap.
Different Types of Bridges
Bridges differ from blockchain to blockchain but there are services that offer multiple cross-chain bridges across different networks. When sending assets from one blockchain to another, make sure to choose the right bridge that supports transferring crypto from the sending blockchain and the receiving blockchain.
Trust-Based vs Trustless Bridges
Similar to exchanges, bridges are either centralized and trust-based or decentralized and trustless. Both have their pros and cons.
Trust-based or centralized bridges do the exact same thing centralized exchanges do, where an entity facilitates the transfer instead of it executing automatically via a smart contract.
Two of the main benefits of trust-based bridges are that they are faster and sometimes more economical compared to trustless bridges due to cheaper prices and their easier purchase process.
This type of bridge is also suitable for blockchains without solid support.
If you want to transfer cryptocurrency to a less popular blockchain, using small bridging services may pose a huge risk, especially if the service hasn’t been properly doxxed. In this instance, it might be better to use trust-based bridges in order to ensure your transaction pushes through.
Trustless bridges are decentralized bridges that exist on the blockchain and carry out transactions with smart contracts. While hardcore crypto enthusiasts argue that decentralized bridges are more decentralized, they also come with their own risks and disadvantages.
Transferring a large number of assets from one blockchain to another can be both expensive and slow. While some would consider trustless bridges to be technically safer since assets won’t be under the custody of centralized services, the same cannot be said for smaller chains.
Small blockchains with unaudited bridges are vulnerable to exploits like the Ronin bridge hack, where cybercriminals exploited a validator node vulnerability. In this instance, using a trustless bridge might not be the best option to transfer your cryptocurrency cross-blockchain.
The Best Blockchain Bridge Solutions for Ethereum:
Different blockchain transfers oftentimes use different blockchain bridges. It’s important to recognize that the bridge to one blockchain might not be the best bridge to use for another blockchain.
For convenience purposes, we’ll be listing how to bridge cryptocurrency from Ethereum to other blockchains.
Ethereum to Solana
There are numerous bridges that allow you to transfer your ETH from Ethereum to Solana by wrapping it as WETH, but Wormhole, in particular, stands out for both its ease of use and overall quality.
Learn more about bridging ETH to SOL.
Ethereum to Cardano
The founder of Cardano left Ethereum after a dispute which results in a more complicated bridging process from Ethereum to Cardano. Although there are smaller decentralized bridges, the most convenient way to bridge assets is by sending your ETH to a centralized exchange, trading it for ADA, and sending it to Cardano.
Learn more about bridging ETH to ADA
Ethereum to Avalanche
If you’re finding yourself in the mood for a little degen fun or have other reasons to bridge your assets from Ethereum to Avalanche, AllBridge is a good way to transfer assets cross-chain. Since the native coin isn’t supported, you’ll have to convert your Ethereum assets to ABR before you can transfer them to the Avalanche blockchain.
Learn more about bridging Ethereum to Avalanche.
Ethereum to BNB Chain
One of the most reliable ways to bridge from Ethereum to the BNBChain is through AllBridge. Although the bridge doesn’t support Ethereum per se, there are tokens like ABR and others that could help you transfer value cross-chain.
Learn more about bridging Ethereum to Binance Smart Chain.
Ethereum to Tezos
Bridging from the Ethereum blockchain to the Tezos blockchain is quite different from the rest. With services like SimpleSwap, you’ll have to purchase XTZ with ETH and send it to a Tezos wallet.
Learn more about bridging Ethereum to Tezos.
Ethereum to Fantom
For bridging Ethereum to Fantom, you have two options; using ABR through AllBridge or wrapping your ETH through PortalBridge. Either way, it’ll be easy for you to send your crypto to and from both blockchains.
Learn more about bridging Ethereum to Fantom.
How Long Does Bridging Tokens Take?
There are many different factors that affect how long it takes to bridge assets from one blockchain to another. Here are the top factors that could affect the speed of bridging:
Since bridging is technically just another blockchain transaction, the speed of the transfer depends on the transferring blockchain, which operates at different speeds. Some blockchains like Ethereum or Cardano are more congested, which might take transactions longer to settle while faster protocols like Solana finalize processes quicker.
Decentralized vs Centralized Bridges
As explained earlier, decentralized bridges utilize smart contracts, which might take longer to transfer coins from one blockchain to another. Centralized bridges, however, can do this almost instantly thanks to their readily available assets in both chains at any given time.
Instead of directly transferring the crypto from one chain to another, the centralized exchange acts as the middleman to support all kinds of blockchains. Basically, you trade in your crypto in one chain for you to send crypto to another chain.
Alternative Bridging Technique with Centralized Exchanges
Although most crypto enthusiasts ought to stay away from centralized exchanges, their convenience offers an easy way for you to transfer assets from one blockchain to another.
In order to do this, you’ll have to use a crypto exchange you trust and follow the steps down below:
- Send your crypto to the centralized exchange
- Convert your crypto within the exchange
- Withdraw your crypto in the blockchain that you want.
An example of this would be for you to send your Ethereum to a centralized exchange, trade it for Solana, and withdraw it directly to a Solana wallet.
Although this is not always recommended, this could be the easiest way for you to bridge your cryptocurrency from one blockchain to another. Take note that since you are using a centralized exchange, you are putting yourself at risk of whatever happens to the exchange itself. But considering the small window of time it takes to bridge assets, the risk could be minimal.
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