The Ethereum–Cosmos Merge: Introducing Polymer, the IBC Interoperability Hub

Yuan Han Li
co-authored with ·

The rapid growth of the Web3 ecosystem has seen the birth of various blockchain networks, each with its own unique value proposition. This trend is set to accelerate as developers increasingly consider launching application-specific blockchains or rollups as an alternative to traditional smart contract applications for improved scalability and customization. As more developers adopt application-specific blockchains and rollups, the challenge of interoperability compounds; developers already struggle to build applications that can seamlessly interact across multiple chains. This growing demand for cross-chain communication highlights the need for a robust solution that enables different blockchains to communicate in a secure, neutral, and open manner—one that is not fragile or error prone.

In the existing centralized digital world, nodes can join the internet and connect to any other node speaking the same language without specialized translation nodes. This is possible due to the agreement on standard networking protocols like TCP/IP and UDP. By contrast, other than in the Cosmos ecosystem, Web3 has no agreed-upon standard transport layer (a language to move data between different blockchains) making communication between different blockchains challenging.

Polymer aims to meet this challenge. While numerous arbitrary messaging protocols have emerged to address the cross-chain interoperability, they have all done so by building a new messaging standard, paradoxically causing more fragmentation when a standardized and battle tested way to move data between heterogeneous blockchains already exists: the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. In fact, IBC does more volume in a day than LayerZero, Wormhole, and Synapse combined and already has over 100+ connected chains

Recognizing IBC’s merits, Polymer is building an Ethereum rollup that serves as an interoperability hub which provides IBC to Ethereum and its rollup ecosystem. Not only does this allow developers to plug into the many applications and networks live on IBC today, it also lets them leverage IBC’s robust and proven feature set like interchain accounts, interchain queries, and application callbacks without having to build these from scratch. By doing so, Polymer is effectively merging the Ethereum and Cosmos ecosystems.

Furthermore, working with Polymer offers more benefits. Developers can tap into IBC's flexible security options. This means they can configure how they want to verify messages, using a range of methods across the security/cost spectrum from multi-sigs to native rollup bridges or even ZK light clients. With Polymer, another key advantage is that developers are able to avoid vendor lock-in. Not only is IBC a free, open-source public utility not owned by any for-profit entity, connected applications can also switch between different security models and interoperability providers with ease using IBC channel upgrades.

Bo Du and Peter Kim, the co-founders of Polymer Labs, bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and passion to the table. Bo's impressive technical background includes roles as an Infrastructure Engineer at Uber, and as the first hire at Chronosphere, where he helped scale the company to a $1.6 billion valuation—all while moonlighting in DeFi and as an open-source contributor to IBC. Complementing Bo is Peter, whose background as a strategy consultant at EY, early involvement in crypto, contributions structuring and scaling DAOs, and knack for hiring stellar talent bring invaluable operational and strategic insights to Polymer. His early experiences in DeFi, where he met Bo and discovered the massive opportunity in cross-chain solutions, has been instrumental in shaping Polymer's vision. Together with their team hand-picked from top distributed systems and database companies foundational to the internet (e.g., Google, Amazon, Verizon), Polymer is well-positioned to make a significant impact on the crypto ecosystem by providing IBC to Ethereum and its rollups, enabling developers to build powerful and secure cross-chain applications.

We are thrilled to invest in Polymer Labs and partner with Peter, Bo, and their talented team as they create a more interconnected and efficient Web3 ecosystem. By breaking down barriers and empowering developers with cutting-edge cross-chain communication tools, Polymer will play a crucial role in unlocking the full potential of the decentralized web by bringing IBC to Ethereum. We look forward to supporting their journey to merge the Ethereum and Cosmos ecosystems and using the innovative applications built with their pioneering interoperability hub.

Disclosures: Blockchain Capital is an investor in several of the protocols mentioned above. The views expressed in each blog post may be the personal views of each author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Blockchain Capital and its affiliates. Neither Blockchain Capital nor the author guarantees the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of information provided in each blog post. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made or given by or on behalf of Blockchain Capital, the author or any other person as to the accuracy and completeness or fairness of the information contained in any blog post and no responsibility or liability is accepted for any such information. Nothing contained in each blog post constitutes investment, regulatory, legal, compliance or tax or other advice nor is it to be relied on in making an investment decision. Blog posts should not be viewed as current or past recommendations or solicitations of an offer to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The blog posts may contain projections or other forward-looking statements, which are based on beliefs, assumptions and expectations that may change as a result of many possible events or factors. If a change occurs, actual results may vary materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date such statements are made, and neither Blockchain Capital nor each author assumes any duty to update such statements except as required by law. To the extent that any documents, presentations or other materials produced, published or otherwise distributed by Blockchain Capital are referenced in any blog post, such materials should be read with careful attention to any disclaimers provided therein.

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