There is a vast number of email service providers on the internet: Gmail, Yahoo, outlook, and many more. What if all of these services were not interoperable? Meaning what would email services have looked like if users from Gmail could only mail other users on Gmail and no one on any of the other providers? The concept of emails would have been much less useful than it is today.
Think of banking as another example. If users from bank X can only transfer and receive funds from other users on bank X, and no other bank is supported for these transactions, would the banking system have been as useful as it is today? The answer would be no, and the reason would be a lack of interoperability.
Banks and emails (and many other services) had to become interoperable with other platforms and companies to be successful. The same is the case with blockchain technology. Blockchain is a relatively new promising technology in the market. But for it to become more than that, for it to become the next revolution on the internet, it would have to become interoperable just like banking and emails had to become.
What is interoperability in blockchain?
Since the inception of this idea over a decade ago by Satoshi Nakamoto, thousands of people have adopted the technology and have created blockchains of their own. After Nakamoto’s bitcoin, many more blockchains were created like Ethereum and Binance etc. These blockchains have different functions (bitcoin is purely a cryptocurrency platform, while Ethereum is a base for most decentralized apps today), and have different capabilities in terms of scalability and utility.
But all of these different blockchains exist in their own isolated silos. They are not connected to each other and hence interoperability like the one that exists among current banking/email systems is not possible in blockchains at this stage. The ability for all of these isolated blockchains to be connected in some way, conducting transactions, and exchanging data would be the interoperability that is needed for blockchain to reach its true potential.
Why is interoperability so important?
The market value of blockchain is expected to reach 69 Billion USD in less than 6 years, and the market cap for cryptocurrencies has already reached 2 Trillion USD. These numbers show that bitcoin has already made a big buzz in the market, but its future is still uncertain. Bitcoin will not be a real success unless it is adopted in real-life use cases such as funds transfer, healthcare, supply chains, digital identity, and other decentralized applications.
But these use cases will not be fully useful unless blockchains are made fully interoperable. Unless cryptocurrencies can be freely transacted and exchanged on different blockchains, unless health/supply-chain data can be easily accessible across blockchain platforms, the technology will not be able to replace centralized alternatives.
And replacing, or creating parallels to, these centralized alternatives on the internet was the very motivation behind the creation of this technology. Cryptocurrencies should be able to make transactions and exchanges without a centralized authority to control the process. Different blockchains and blockchain-based applications should be able to exchange data without centralized organizations controlling the process. This is why interoperability is so important for blockchain.
The future of blockchain interoperability
Many companies and projects are working on devising a solution for the interoperability problem in blockchain. Different projects are trying various ways to achieve this and one of those ways is Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) also employed by Antlia.
The interblockchain communication protocol (IBC) is an end-to-end, connection-oriented, stateful protocol for reliable, ordered, and authenticated communication between modules on separate distributed ledgers. IBC is designed for interoperation between heterogeneous ledgers arranged in an unknown, dynamic topology, operating with varied consensus algorithms and state machines. What this means is that IBC will provide a connection between multiple blockchains which would allow them to exchange tokens, send/receive data, and even vote from one blockchain on another.
Projects like Antlia will ensure a better future for the blockchain technology. With interoperability ensured, blockchain has the potential to disrupt large centralized systems and create a parallel decentralized world on the internet.