Network

【Network Introduction】Axelar Network

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Basic Information

Axelar is the answer to the growing concern about cross-chain connectivity compromising the security guarantees of L1 blockchains. Axelar is the universal, decentralized transport layer, supported by permissionless validators and powered by Tendermint. It enables cross-chain applications to get away from the insecurity of ad-hoc bridges. As a universal overlay network, Axelar provides routing, translation and security between all blockchains, providing Web3 interoperability with maximum composability and security.

Network Detail

Brief Introduction

Axelar provides a decentralized network and tools that help connect dApp builders with multiple blockchain ecosystems, applications, and users for frictionless cross-chain communication. Axelar consists of a protocol suite, tools, and APIs, designed to break down the barriers to cross-chain communication. Powered by a decentralized open network of validators; anyone can join the network, use it, and build on it.

The Axelar network makes cross-chain communication as simple as using HTTP/HTTPS protocols on the web. Platform developers can plug-in their blockchains to other ecosystems, and application builders can leverage a simple protocol and API to access global liquidity and communicate with the entire ecosystem. The Axelar team has deep roots in distributed systems, consensus, and cryptography. The venture is backed by Binance X, Coinbase Ventures, DCVC, Lemniscap, Collab+Currency, North Island Ventures, Divergence Ventures, Cygni Labs, and others.

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Roadmap

Finished

White paper

Seed financing

Initial design

Testnet goes live

Initial integrations with Bitcoin and Ethereum

Testnet iteration

Support of arbitrary EVM chains

IBC — compatibility

Mainnet roll-out

Support of arbitrary EVM chains

Series B financing ($1B valuation)

Coinlist sale concluded

General Message Passing released to local developer environment & testnet

Satellite demo app launched

General Message Passing released to mainnet. Applications integrate with Axelar solutions

Grant Program Phase 1 concluded

Axelar selected as Osmosis canonical bridging infrastructure

Ongoing

Onboarding of more assets and chains

Extend General Message Passing to Cosmos chains

Support new cross-chain applications

Continuous security improvements

Scaling strategy rolled out to support high throughput applications, chains, with stronger security guarantees

Ability to compose and customize security policies

Ecosystem of applications and solutions is built around the Axelar Network

Empower all ecosystems and developers to build simple-to-use and secure cross-chain dApps

Feature

Axelar’s ultimate goal is to build the underlying infrastructure for onboarding the next billion people onto Web3. In order to achieve this goal, Axelar will:

  1. Make it easy for blockchain developers to plug in and communicate with other chains.
  2. Provide decentralized application (dApp) developers with cross-chain composability.
  3. Allow users to interact seamlessly with applications across multiple ecosystems.
  4. The Axelar SDKs provide a rich suite for developing Web3 applications, ensuring that developers have the tools they need for building. With these tools and APIs, developers can use the Axelar network and its SDKs to write dApps that can be easily deployed across all Axelar-connected ecosystems. In other words, Axelar distills cross-chain interoperability down to a simple set of API requests. This is absolutely central to adoption, as the developer experience around deploying Web3 applications must be like the experience today for Web2 developers, where the underlying networking and ecosystem-specific deployment considerations are largely abstracted away.

Interaction Products

The Axelar Network has four main interaction points.

The first is the SDK, which developers will use to integrate their Web3 applications. To learn more about the Axelar SDK, please take a look at our developer documentation and join our Discord.

The second is to run a node or validator, participating in the core underlying processes that secure the network, and validating cross-chain transactions. Validator setup documentation can be found here.

The third is to lead or support the integration of a new blockchain with the Axelar Network. With each new blockchain that connects to the Axelar network, the potential value that Axelar can provide to developers and end-users grows exponentially. At the time of this writing, adding new blockchains is not openly available as a function for Axelar network users. However, this testnet demo shows the simplicity and developer-friendliness of the process, which can be completed in under 10 minutes.

The fourth is to use Axelar’s newly launched, decentralized cross-chain asset transfer application, Satellite. At the time of writing, Satellite supports transferring native Terra assets like Luna and UST between a set of both Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and non-EVM blockchains: Avalanche, Ethereum, Fantom, Moonbeam, Polygon and Terra. Support for other networks and assets will roll out over the coming weeks and months. Satellite demonstrates the potential seamlessness to the end-user: users may exchange assets across previously siloed ecosystems, without any change in user interface. Satellite App.

Teams, Partners and Backers

Teams

Partners

Integration with Moonbeam

Axelar is dedicated to providing scaled cross-chain interoperability across all blockchains, with the Polkadot ecosystem being an exciting new integration. Users will be able to move assets from external chains to Moonbeam and use them in dApps. Through the Axelar universal cross-chain communication gateway, applications on the Moonbeam network will be able to compose with applications on Ethereum, Terra, and other chains.

Moonbeam’s full Ethereum compatibility allows developers to benefit from the composability and speed of the Polkadot ecosystem. Both Moonbeam and Axelar are building innovative solutions to break down blockchain silos and unlock the potential of increased liquidity across networks.

Backers

Funding

Refer from crunchbase.

Funding Rounds

Axelar has raised a total of $63.8M in funding over 6 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Feb 15, 2022 from a Series B round.

Investors

Axelar is funded by 31 investors. Node Capital and Gokul Rajaram are the most recent investors.

Technolgy

Tech Knowledge

The Axelar network has three key components across two functional layers.

A decentralized network

The first is the decentralized network itself, supported by a set of validators that are responsible for maintaining the network and executing transactions. The validators run the cross-chain gateway protocol, which is a multi-party cryptography overlay that sits on top of Layer 1 blockchains. They are responsible for performing read and write operations to gateway smart contracts deployed on connected external chains, voting and attesting to events on those chains.

Gateway smart contracts

The second are the gateways — smart contracts that provide the connectivity between the Axelar network and its interconnected Layer 1 blockchains. Validators monitor gateways for incoming transactions, which the validators READ. They then come to consensus on the validity of that transaction; once agreed, they WRITE to the destination chain’s gateway to execute the cross-chain transaction. The validators and gateways compose the core infrastructure layer.

Developer tools

Sitting on top of the validators and gateways are the APIs and SDKs (the libraries and tools that enable developers to access the Axelar network easily). This is the application-development layer that developers will use to compose across any two chains in a single hop, adding universal interoperability to their blockchains and applications. With Axelar, they can lock, unlock and transfer assets between any two addresses on any two blockchain platforms, execute cross-chain application triggers, and more generally handle any cross-chain requests.

Key Tech

Cross-Chain Gateway Protocol (CGP)

Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CTP)

CTP is an application-level protocol that makes it easy for applications to leverage cross-chain features. We explain the integration by focusing on asset transfer features (e.g., used in DeFi). These applications typically consist of three main components: front-end GUI, smart contracts on one chain, and an intermediary node that posts transactions between the front-end and the smart contracts. The front-ends interact with the user’s wallets to accept deposits, process withdrawals, etc. Applications can leverage cross-chain features by calling CTP queries analogous to HTTP/HTTPS GET/POST methods. These queries are subsequently picked up by the CGP layer for execution and results are returned back to the users.

when a user submits such a request, it is routed via the threshold bridge account to the Axelar network for processing. Form there, the following steps are performed:

1. Axelar network understands that this application registered for the cross-chain support across the assets. It generates the deposits key leveraging threshold cryptography and consensus for the user on the corresponding chains A and B.

2. The associated public keys are returned to the application and displayed to the user who can use their favorite wallets to submit deposits. The corresponding secret key is shared across all Axelar validators.

3. When the deposits are confirmed, Axelar updates its cross-chain directory to record that the user on the corresponding chains has deposited these assets.

4. The Axelar validators execute multi-party protocols to generate a threshold signature that allows updating the threshold bridge account on chain A where the application resides.

5. The CTP query is then returned to the DeFi application smart contracts, which can update its state, update its yield formulas, exchange rates, or execute other application state-related conditions.

Throughout this process, the Axelar network, on a high-level, acts as a decentralized cross-chain read/write oracle, CGP is the routing layer in between chains, and CTP is the application protocol.

Network Security

Axelar network addresses the security concerns using the following mechanisms:

Maximum Safety

Axelar sets the safety threshold to 90%, meaning that almost all validators will need to collude to withdraw any funds that are locked by its network or forge state proofs. In practice, it has been observed that PoS validators have very high up-time (close to 100%), assuming they are properly incentivized. Hence, Axelar network will produce blocks even despite this high threshold. However, in the rare case that something goes wrong and the network stalls, the network needs robust fall-back mechanisms to reboot the system described next.

Maximum Decentralization

Since the network uses threshold signature schemes, the number of validators can be as large as possible. The network is not bounded by the number of validators we can support, transaction limits or fees that would arise from using, for instance, multi-signatures on different chains where the complexity (and fees) increase linearly with the number of validators.

Robust Fall-back Mechanisms

The first question that must be addressed in a network with high safety thresholds as above is what happens when the network itself stalls. Suppose Axelar network itself stalls. Can we have a fall-back mechanism that would allow users to recover their funds? To address any potential stall of the Axelar network itself, each threshold bridge account on a blockchain X that the Axelar validators collectively control has an “emergency unlock key”. This key can be shared across thousands of parties and may even be a custom key for blockchain X that is shared across the community of that chain. Hence, if Axelar network stalls, this key will act as a fall-back and enable recovery of the assets.

Maximum Decentralization of Fall-Back Mechanisms

This fall-back mechanism includes a secondary recovery set of users, in which just anyone can participate without any cost. These users do not need to be online, run nodes, or coordinate with each other. They are only “called on duty” if Axelar network stalls and cannot recover. The network’s security is enhanced by a very high threshold on the primary validator set and a maximally decentralized secondary recovery set.

Shared Governance

A common protocol governs the Axelar network. Collectively, the users can vote on which chain should be supported through its network. The network will also allocate a pool of funds that can be used to reimburse users in case of unexpected emergencies, controlled via the governance protocols as well.

Validator

Requirements

By running nodes that secure the Axelar blockchain, validators collectively help to maintain the network. The users of Axelar are able to elect validators through a delegation process. Based on the stake dedicated to them, validators received a pro-rata voting power. The main objective of validators lies in reaching consensus on the state of the various blockchains Axelar is connected to.

The first 50 nodes will become active validators.

Set-up Docs

Steps to become a validator

Configure companion processes

Create and backup accounts

Launch companion processes

Register broadcaster proxy

Stake AXL tokens on the Axelar network

Health check

Set up external chains

Other setup-related tasks

Troubleshoot start-up

Recover validator from mnemonic or secret keys

Leave as a validator

Missed too many blocks

Nodes Situaton

Top 10 validators (refer from mintscan):

Competitors

Related Readings

A Technical Introduction to the Axelar Network-2021.7.31

Axelar Network — The Future of Decentralized World-2022.1.15

Axelar Network Looks to Boost Interoperability With $35M Raise-2022.2.15

MANTA NETWORK TAPS AXELAR’S INTEROPERABILITY TO PRIVATIZE CRYPTO ASSETS-2022.4.8

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