Over the last few years, we’ve seen blockchains grow in adoption and utility, establishing their place in the global financial system. At the same time, while they’ve grown in popularity, there is increasing fragmentation, mirroring the fragmentation we’ve seen (and been trying to solve) in traditional finance.
Stellar, on the other hand, is becoming an established interoperability layer between a wide variety of financial systems with a growing number of Stellar anchors connecting fiat currencies with stablecoins issued on Stellar. Today, users can redeem assets in their Stellar wallets off-network for an actual dollar, peso, or another fiat currency in their pocket — or more importantly, they can exchange between currencies at a faster rate and lower cost than they could on existing rails.
But if Stellar is to strive towards its mission to create equitable access to the world’s financial infrastructure, it needs to be a bridge – not just to the financial system as it stands today, but the financial system it’s evolving into, which now includes other blockchain networks. That’s why participants in the Stellar ecosystem, like Pendulum and Flare, are enabling access to other blockchains through the development of technologies bridging blockchain-to-blockchain.
Today, we’re announcing a new project: Starbridge, a trust-minimized integration between Stellar and Ethereum.
The development and design of Starbridge is just getting started, and we’re setting out with the following requirements:
For the full list of requirements, see docs/requirements.md.
Starbridge will transfer two types of assets to facilitate symmetrical bidirectional capabilities: local assets and wrapped assets.
Starbridge will use these assets to perform two different types of transfers:
When local assets are deposited into the bridge, they will be locked up in an account or contract. Most stats for bridges look at total-value-locked (TVL) as a measurement for success, the methodology being that more deposits equals higher TVL.
Here’s how Starbridge works at a high level. The account/contract where assets are locked up will be controlled by a group of Starbridge operators. Each Starbridge operator will hold their own unique key, and all together, they will control the account/contract. Control and decentralization will be established using an m-of-n signer setup.
When we say m-of-n, we mean there is some number of signers, n, who can authorize transactions, and for a transaction to be authorized a subset of those signers, m, must sign.
For example, if the signer configuration is 3-of-5 any 3-of-the-5 signers need to sign to authorize. This means there’s tolerance to failure, tolerance to nefarious or negligent behavior, and decentralized control of the locked value.
The flow of a transfer takes only a few steps:
Starbridge’s design will also come with the capability to reverse transfers that can’t be completed. A reversal will work much the same way a send does, except the sender becomes the receiver on the same chain.
Starbridge is in very early development, and we’re continuing to iterate on the design and its capabilities. As this project gets more refined, we'll look at success measurements, and hope to assess ways we can go beyond TVL by creating metrics informed by interoperability and access, which are at the heart of our mission. We think Starbridge is a meaningful way that we’ll be able to maintain and build Stellar’s role in the financial system, by fostering access within and beyond blockchain. By increasing accessibility to Stellar’s strengths, both through traditional payment rails and other blockchains, the financial system can continue to evolve and innovate to ever-greater heights.