Let’s Talk Cross-Chain is a series hosted by Li.Finance where we interview founders and teams building key infrastructure for the multi-chain future.
For this interview, we’re joined by the Celer Network team, the brains behind Celer, a layer-2 scaling platform that brings fast, secure, and low-cost blockchain applications on Ethereum, Polkadot, and other blockchains to mass adoption.
They are also the team behind cBridge — a multi-chain interoperability platform that can bridge assets and arbitrary messages across 15+ different chains in an instant, low-cost, and secure design.
Let’s dive in!
Since cBridge’s launch in July, you have come a long way. Tell us, how did the time from cBridge launch to now look like and where do you see cBridge 2 years from now?
cBridge started 6 months ago with the aim to provide the best-in-class bridging solution to blockchain interoperability. In November 2021, cBridge released a significant update and released optimizations such as more efficient liquidity management for LPs, improved developer-oriented SDK, and a single-click user experience. All of the above is made possible by the Celer Status Guardian Network (SGN) powered by validators and stakers in the system. With value capture embedded in the SGN chain, validators and stakers are incentivized to maintain the security of cBridge and facilitate fast and low-cost transactions.
As of the time of writing, cBridge has supported 19 different chains, including Ethereum, BSC, Avalanche, Fantom, Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, Boba, Harmony, Heco, and Metis; tokens supported include USDT, USDC, BUSD, ETH, METIS, and various protocol tokens (DODO, MCB, IMX, etc). As Celer cBridge hits $2.2B in total transaction volume and $200M in TVL, we are continuing to extend our support to more ecosystem participants.
Celer has always been an advocate of decentralization, and the same applies in both the cBridge design and our approach of expanding market reach. We are a leading force in the Open Canonical Token Standard, which creates a bridging model that allows projects to designate and allocate bridging quotas to multiple bridges. We are excited to see important ecosystem contributors like Paraswap, Aurora, OpenDao, and PeopleDao joining the force as well.
With the release of Celer’s newest Inter-chain Message Framework (Celer IM), in addition to token bridging, we now support general message passing and smart contract calls across different chains. We hope to change the premises of how multi-blockchain dApps are built and used, and open up an entire galaxy of opportunities for inter-chain-native applications.
Our goal remains the same for the future, to build the best inter-blockchain and cross-layer communication platform. We hope to allow users access to a broad spectrum of DeFi scenarios on different chains with a unified user experience.
Which values are most important to your team? Which trades-offs did you make to align with your values?
Celer is a closely-knit team sharing the values of innovation for broad impact, proactive ownership, transparent and constructive communication, and no-regret execution. To encourage and allow room for growth for innovation, we are always ready to phase out obsolete views and practices, and this requires a highly adaptive team with great learning potential.
How big of a role does decentralization play in your decision-making process and what trade-offs did you have to make to get to this level of decentralization and safety?
Celer Network’s architecture has decentralization in place at the core of its design.
The core component in the Celer Network Inter-chain Message Framework is the Celer State Guardian Network (SGN), which is itself a decentralized Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain built on Tendermint. SGN serves as the message router between different blockchains. SGN node providers have to stake CELR tokens to join the consensus process as a validator. Current validators are run by renowned institutions like Binance, InfStones, OKEX, Stakewithus, Unaggii, and Stakefish. SGN uses the same security mechanisms of L1 blockchains like the Cosmos and Polygon PoS chains, with staking and slashing mechanisms implemented on Ethereum L1 smart contracts.
From an ecosystem perspective, we also want to contribute to a more decentralized interoperability space, so under the Inter-chain Message Framework, our bridging fabric allows multiple bridges to serve a project at the same time, so that projects can have decentralized control of their asset flows instead of being locked into one single bridge vendor forever. The Open Canonical Token Standard we are spearheading for this purpose has attracted a great number of projects and bridging solutions to join forces already.
What makes you one of the strongest bridges in the ecosystem, tech and concept-wise?
In addition to token bridging, Celer Network is spearheading general message passing and smart contract calls across different chains with its newly launched Inter-chain Message Framework. With the framework, instead of deploying multiple isolated copies of smart contracts on different blockchains, developers can now build inter-chain-native dApps with efficient liquidity utilization, coherent application logic, and shared states. Users of Celer IM-enabled dApps will enjoy the benefits of a diverse multi-blockchain ecosystem with the simplicity of a single-transaction UX, without complicated manual interactions across multiple blockchains.
In terms of the level of decentralization, Celer’s SGN, the core component enabling the entire framework, is itself a Tendermint-based PoS side chain to Ethereum, and has similar security assumptions as any other PoS L1 chain.
Celer is also promoting a more decentralized interoperability space with the Open Canonical Token Standard. When Celer is integrated into projects, instead of implementing a vendor-lock-in bridge to control the entire minting power of the project, Celer is promoting an open standard where multiple bridges can be used at the same time, allowing more flexibility and future interoperability upgrades for the projects.
Working closely with our partners gives us the best insight into different blockchain ecosystems, so that we can advance towards innovations that are most in need. Right now, cBridge, the token bridge under the IM framework, provides the best-in-class cross-chain token bridging experience with deep liquidity for users, highly efficient liquidity management and straightforward value capture for both cBridge node operators and Liquidity Providers, and developer-oriented features like SDKs and web widgets.
The bridge space is highly competitive. Please discuss your approach for expanding your market adoption across the board.
As mentioned in the previous questions, when expanding Celer solution uses, we promote an open standard instead of a vendor lock-in approach. We believe that as an important player in the multi-chain future, the interoperability space should also incorporate the core value of blockchain technologies, which is to have decentralization placed on top.
The aspect we put the most focus on in our design is security. SGN inherits PoS security assumptions, and is run by nodes staked by renowned institutions like Binance, InfStones, OKEX, Stakewithus, Unaggii, and Stakefish. Nodes are incentivized to function well in reaching consensus, storing attestations and transferring funds with value capture in the network, and get slashed while they don’t function as planned or maliciously function. Celer stands out with the SGN chain serving as the core infrastructure behind the scene, compared to other bridging solutions that use more centralized designs.
Celer SGN is also built with future multi-chain native extensions in mind. We have just launched the Inter-chain Message Framework, which enables cross-chain general message passing and smart contract calls.
Overall, we are not only competitive in cross-chain transfer cost and speed, but most importantly in our security model.
What, in your perspective, is the blockchain space lacking at this point, and how may Celer Network and cBridge assist to address this?
We are in a multi-chain world now, but applications are not inter-chain native.
The current common practice of making a “multi-blockchain” dApp is done by simply replicating the same code on multiple chains where the liquidity, application logic and states of the same dApp on different chains are completely isolated from each other. In fact, except for the UI and the protocol token, nothing is shared between these instances.
This approach often suffers from low liquidity efficiency, disconnected states, and a degraded user experience.
Now, with the newly launched Celer IM, we can allow dApps to tap into the true potential of the multi-blockchain world by enabling a single-click user experience that benefits from much higher liquidity efficiency and coherent application logic. For developers, building with Celer IM is an easy plug-in integration, and dApps can transfer into inter-chain-native dApp with very few deployment modifications.
What are your views on bridge aggregation, ie. Li.Fi?
We share the same vision with Li.finance that multi-chain ecosystem communication is an irreversible trend. The cross-chain bridging solutions will play a major role in future DeFi-Enablement and Layer 2 adoption. We both see a wide-using scenario in cross-chain composability.
We see that the bridge aggregator primarily facilitates the user experience when making a cross-chain bridge. No more switching from DEX to Bridges, no more shifting to different networks, and no more multiple calculations of the gas fee. Bridge aggregator makes it all simple in one click.
As a representative bridge aggregator, Li.Finance abstracts all the above processes and enables the cross-chain any-to-any swaps by seamless and straightforward user actions. On top, it directly indicates the most suitable routes and prizes for the user.
Li.Finance have comprehensively assessed more than 50 bridging solutions to ensure the bridging process’s credibility and finally achieved the consensus with cBridge. We believe that Li.Finance can benefit from Celer’s cBridge integration to expand its reach to Celer-compatible blockchains and empower users with one of the most efficient and secure blockchain bridgings.
Furthermore, with the Celer inter-chain message framework that allows an easy-to-apply “Plug’n’Play” mode for developers, the two teams can dive into deeper corporations in multi-chain ecosystems interoperability in the future.
The growth of a platform is dependent on community interaction. How do you interact with your user base? What role does community play in your project?
All applications in the Celer portfolio, including layer2.finance and cBridge, are highly community-driven. For each iteration of Celer’s products, we start with a beta (testnet) version for users to test, where users are encouraged with rewards to provide suggestions and feedback. The Celer team always takes users’ input as a crucial part in the final design before the mainnet launch.
Users are supported by a dedicated customer service team who facilitates the communication between users and our dev team. Our community managers are always ready to respond to user requests and help resolve their issues in a timely manner.
In addition to a positive user feedback loop, users also play an important role in the cBridge infrastructure by staking CELR to the State Guardian Network for transaction fee earnings and staking rewards, and in the meantime adding to the security implications of the entire network.
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the interview, follow Celer Network on Twitter and check out our cBridge deep dive to learn more about them.
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