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Multi-Chain Vs. Cross-Chain: The Future of Blockchain?

By December 13, 20234 minute read

The Web3 application layer is present on hundreds of different blockchains, layer-2 networks, and appchains since blockspace is in constant demand. Due to this development, two new terminologies have emerged: multi-chain and cross-chain. In this blog, we will explore the key differences between them.

Before exploring the intricacies of cross-chain and multi-chain technologies, it is essential to underscore a component essential to both: Blockchain Interoperability.

About Blockchain Interoperability

Blockchain interoperability refers to the ability of different blockchain networks to communicate and exchange data or assets seamlessly. It eliminates the limitations imposed by siloed blockchains and enables users to transfer digital assets or information across different platforms. By enabling interoperability, blockchain networks can work together, leveraging each other’s strengths and expanding the possibilities for decentralized applications.

What is Multi-Chain?

Multi-chain represents a type of blockchain technology where multiple chains interconnect in a federated environment. Federated chains allow permissioned access between specific entities while preserving individual network autonomy. For participants on one chain to transact with others, they must agree on a set of norms. This setup enables secure maintenance of private data stores, with each network independently operating its consensus algorithm.

In a multi-chain environment, each Decentralized Application (DApp) instance contains smart contracts isolated from applications on different blockchains. As the multi-chain ecosystem evolves, new on-chain environments increase total aggregate throughput, attracting more users with lower transaction costs. Each network in this environment adopts a unique approach to scalability, decentralization, mechanism design, consensus, execution, data availability, and privacy. These approaches coexist in the multi-chain ecosystem, contributing to the advancement of Web3 development through simultaneous implementation and battle-testing.

Pros of Multi-Chain

  • Enhanced Privacy and Security:

Multi-chain technology facilitates preserving private data within networks, ensuring transactions remain confidential. This privacy feature persists even with increased user participation and the benefits of public networks.

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  • Parallel Processing for Scalability:

Multi-chain systems offer the advantage of parallel processing, distributing computational power across multiple chains. This alleviates congestion issues seen in single-chain setups, effectively addressing scalability concerns and enhancing overall system efficiency.

  • Flexibility for Diverse Use Cases:

The flexibility inherent in multi-chain technology caters to various use cases. Developers can utilize it to craft blockchains or decentralized applications (dApps) tailored to specific requirements, fostering collaboration and innovation within the blockchain space.

Cons of Multi-Chain

  • Time and Cost Constraints:

Multi-chain comes with a notable drawback: It is time-consuming and expensive. The development and maintenance of applications across multiple chains incur significant costs and time investments, requiring developers to adapt algorithms for specific blockchains. Consequently, many multi-chain applications opt to limit themselves to a specific group of blockchains to mitigate these challenges.

  • Transaction Delays:

Another drawback involves delayed transactions, primarily due to users’ need to seek permission before accessing data. Achieving unanimous permission among involved nodes becomes a prerequisite, introducing potential delays in transaction processing.

What Is Cross-Chain?

Cross-chain represents a form of blockchain technology wherein multiple chains interconnect in an interoperable environment, facilitating the seamless exchange of assets and data across diverse networks. This framework empowers the development of Decentralized Applications (Dapps), smart contracts, and secure transactions spanning multiple chains, all achieved without the reliance on a centralized intermediary or controlling entity.

The functionality of cross-chain technology enables the creation of natively cross-chain applications. In this paradigm, a singular instance of a Decentralized Application (dApp) operates effortlessly across various smart contracts deployed on different blockchains. This stands in contrast to deploying multiple individual instances on distinct networks.

Within a cross-chain context, distinct smart contracts on different chains perform unique functions while remaining synchronized, collectively supporting a single use case within a unified application. This approach empowers developers to harness the distinct advantages offered by diverse blockchain networks.

Pros of Cross-Chain

  • Versatile Smart Contracts:

Cross-chain technology empowers the deployment of smart contracts across diverse blockchains, enabling applications on different chains to enhance user experiences through versatile and user-friendly features.

  • Intermediary-Free Fund Movement:

Users can effortlessly transfer funds across blockchains without the involvement of intermediaries, highlighting the efficiency and convenience of cross-chain technology.

  • Enhanced Reach for Lesser-Known Blockchains:

Cross-chain functionality provides smaller and lesser-known blockchains with access to a wider user base, allowing them to optimize liquidity. Users on these chains also benefit from exposure to various assets.

Cons of Cross-Chain

  • Security Risks with Bridges:

While cross-chain technology enhances interoperability, the bridges designed to facilitate this introduce security risks. Notably, incidents like the Ronin Network Bridge hack, where hackers stole significant amounts, underscore the vulnerability of blockchain bridges, posing a potential weak link in the overall security chain.

Bottomline Thoughts

In conclusion, cross-chain and multi-chain are two significant concepts in cryptos and blockchain technology. Even though these terms are frequently used interchangeably, they actually refer to two different concepts. While multi-chain technology allows the use of many blockchains inside a single ecosystem, cross-chain technology allows the assets to move between different blockchain networks.

The development of blockchain technology is being influenced by multi- and cross-chain technologies, which are opening up previously unimaginable use cases and applications. Watching how these technologies advance and change as the crypto and blockchain industries do will be interesting.

Disclaimer: Cryptocurrency is not a legal tender and is currently unregulated. Kindly ensure that you undertake sufficient risk assessment when trading cryptocurrencies as they are often subject to high price volatility. The information provided in this section doesn't represent any investment advice or WazirX's official position. WazirX reserves the right in its sole discretion to amend or change this blog post at any time and for any reasons without prior notice.
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Harshita Shrivastava

Harshita Shrivastava is an Associate Content Writer with WazirX. She did her graduation in E-Commerce and loved the concept of Digital Marketing. With a brief knowledge of SEO and Content Writing, she knows how to win her content game!

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