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Both ventures aim to be forerunners of Cosmos and Polkadot interoperability.
Two designs focused on Polkadot and Cosmos, respectively, are Plasm Network and Secret Network. have launched the first iteration of a bridge to connect the two ecosystems, each representing a different “layer-zero” protocol.
The bridge, which went live on Plasm’s testnet on Tuesday, allows users to move assets between Plasm Network and Secret Network while maintaining transaction anonymity and using SecretSwap, the first automatic market maker exchange on Secret Network. The bridge will allow Plasm users to take advantage of the Secret Network’s privacy layer, which is built on hardware guarantees provided by trustworthy execution environment, or TEE, cells. The TEE is used by secret nodes and validators to execute operations that require anonymity, rendering them untraceable by the nodes themselves.
In the long-term, the Plasm team expects to become the gateway to Cosmos for other Polkadot projects. Key to this is winning the parachain auctions on Kusama and Polkadot, becoming fully embedded in their environments, Plasm co-founder Sota Watanabe told Cointelegraph:
“Currently, we are focusing on becoming one of the first Kusama parachains. After becoming a parachain, we will implement [the bridge] on the mainnet and make it more and more decentralized and trustless step by step.”
The new bridge architecture is based on Secret’s SecretBridge system, which employs multisignature custody with dedicated validators executing the conversions. This architecture is actually the most popular in multiple bridges and interoperability solutions, such as underpinning bridges from Ethereum to other layer-one networks such as Solana and Avalanche.
Though there are many proposed ways to decentralise the bridging process, such as implementing a complex validator discovery process, the light client paradigm is the “holy grail” for blockchain bridges. In this architecture, one blockchain can independently test transaction proofs from another chain and make the data available to a smart contract, without the need for a middleman.
Light clients, according to Watanabe, are the target, but there are still some obstacles to overcome:
“We have considered the light client implementation. And we are highly likely to take this approach after becoming a Kusama Parachain. The implementation we have today is a MVP [minimum viable product]. […] Currently, we are discussing this topic in another group with the Cosmos team. One big issue is that we need no_std versions of some of the underlying libs.”
In the Rust programming language, the term “no std” refers to programmes that do not use the standard library. This can be a rather limiting restriction, since the basic library of Rust specifies certain characteristics that will be called key properties in higher-level languages, such as dynamic arrays and memory. No std is used in blockchain use due to WebAssembly, the virtual machine architecture used by Polkadot and other blockchains, which has its own standard library.
Regardless, the Plasm and Secret bridge will be the first time Polkadot and Cosmos are connected. According to Watanabe, the idea could easily be extended to further Cosmos blockchains, while another alternative is to explicitly apply Cosmos’ Inter-Blockchain Communication system on Plasm and Substrate. The new bridge architecture will still bind to the whole Cosmos ecosystem as long as it passes in Secret.
Though Cosmos and Polkadot are often seen as rivals, Watanabe claims that the bridge advances a different vision:
“This is the first commercial trial that brings Cosmos assets to the Polkadot ecosystem and vice versa. We would like to make the idea of ‘Cosmos vs Polkadot’ obsolete.”