Connecting Ethereum, EOS, and Tron: Making Blockchain Interoperability a Reality
9 months ago
Before we start, I know…
This post is bound to ruffle a few feathers 😜
Most of you reading this probably have one preferred blockchain of choice, and likely think that the other two chains in this list are run by a bunch of [idiots/scammers/insert-your-pejorative-of-choice].
That's totally fine. I'm not going to try to change your mind.
But what I hope to do by the end of this article is convince you that linking these chains together is a development that not only was inevitable — a natural evolution of the blockchain ecosystem as a whole — but also one that will massively benefit the developers and end users of all three chains.
That is to say, even if you never choose to use or interact with any of those other blockchains — this development is still going to make your chain's ecosystem richer as a result.
Before we get to that, though, let's back up a bit.
What am I even talking about?
Over the coming weeks, Loom Network will be releasing integrations for Tron and EOS into PlasmaChain — effectively allowing DApp developers to offer their DApps to users on all three chains simultaneously.
And since the question is bound to come up — no, we did not receive a penny in funding from these chains for these integrations. We decided building these integrations was the best move forward for Loom (and the DApp ecosystem as a whole), for reasons I'll outline clearly in this post.
First, I want to talk about why we're building this, followed by what exactly the implications of this are — with examples of some really cool features it enables.
Then I want to talk about why this is actually going to be massively awesome and beneficial for everyone in the space, and close with some thoughts on where we think this market is going as it continues to evolve.
So without further ado, let's get started with some…
Background: Why Are We Building This?
At Loom, since day one, we've always had a focus on developers.
Our journey started by building developer tools like EthFiddle, followed by the web's most popular blockchain code school Relentless TCG. Then came the Loom SDK (which allows developers to easily launch their own customized blockchains for high-scale DApps), and finally PlasmaChain, a shared Ethereum sidechain that runs on DPoS.
We've even been known to embed a good ol' Steve Ballmer onstage meltdown into our Medium posts, just to emphasize our love for developers 😉
Up until now, all our products have focused exclusively on Ethereum, because Ethereum had (and to this day still has) by far the largest number of developers building on it.
That hasn't changed — we still think Ethereum is awesome (and we even wrote an immensely popular article on why we chose to build Loom on it).
What has changed is that there are now undoubtedly a good number of developers building DApps on both EOS and Tron in addition to Ethereum — and the number ofusers using EOS and Tron DAppsis increasing.
We could bury our heads in the sand and pretend like developers aren't building on these other platforms, and that users aren't using them.
But that isn't actually the case.
A lot of developers we've talked to who are building on Loom/Ethereum ARE looking at these other platforms with temptation, due to their increasing user counts.
(Developers invest a TON of time and money to build their apps, so it's not surprising that they want to go wherever the most potential customers are to try to recoup that investment and earn some profit).
Most Ethereum users totally write off these other platforms — usually due to philosophical differences around consensus algorithms, blockchain governance, or a dislike of their way of marketing or the way they conducted their token sale.
But the bottom line is, DApp developers want the maximum number of users possible using their DApps and spending money on their services— and they're going to gravitate toward whichever platform offers that.
At Loom Network, we focus on giving developers what they want.
And we thought, what if developers don't have to choose only one platform and user base to box themselves into for eternity.
What if we could offer them the option to access all the users on all the major chains at the same time?
What Does This Integration Actually Mean? (And Why This Is Awesome for Developers)
Last week, we announced the integration of the top 100 ERC20 tokens into PlasmaChain.
This integration included adding a couple pretty significant functionalities:
The ability for users to make a purchase transaction on Layer 1 Ethereum, and receive the purchased game item (or other digital asset) on Layer 2. (You can try this in action on our recent Binance promotion to test the user experience for yourself.)
The ability for users to sign Layer 2 transactions using only their Ethereum wallet (e.g. MetaMask).
This totally seamless integration with Ethereum means that developers building their DApps on PlasmaChain not only get the benefits of 1–3 second transaction finality, free transactions, and high transaction throughput — but they also get the benefit of every single Ethereum user automatically being able to use their DApp and purchase their digital assets without any additional onboarding friction whatsoever.
PlasmaChain literally acts like an extension of the user's existing Ethereum account, allowing developers to access the entire pool of existing Ethereum users, but also build highly scalable and frictionless DApps that simply couldn't be built on Ethereum alone.
Integrating EOS and Tron takes this a step further — developers will be able to offer those same DApps (and sell the same digital assets) to Tron and EOS users as well.
Just like our previous feature release added a seamless PlasmaChain integration for all Ethereum account holders, we're building out the same functionality for Tron and EOS users.
This means Tron and EOS users will be also able to:
Purchase items from PlasmaChain DApps/games using their EOS and TRX tokens — allowing developers to access a much larger pool of potential customers
Sign for transactions on PlasmaChain using only their EOS or Tron wallet (like Scatter or TronLink, the MetaMask equivalents on those platforms), seamlessly integrating PlasmaChain into their Layer 1 of choice.
In other words, Ethereum, EOS, and Tron users will be able to interact as seamlessly with PlasmaChain DApps as if they were native DApps on each of those platforms.
This is clearly great news for DApp developers. It gives them access to the largest pool of crypto users with the least friction possible.
Developers can build their DApps once, and export them to all platforms simultaneously — much like how a mobile game developer would build their game once in Unity, and then export it to Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, etc.
Users can access these DApps without leaving the comfort of the DApp ecosystem they're already familiar with, and pay developers in their preferred currency of choice — be it ETH, EOS, TRX, or any ERC20 token.
Clearly if such a platform exists, and it's just as easy to build on, then developers would have to be crazy to NOT want to build on it and access as many users as possible (compared to confining themselves to only the users on one network).
Our goal at Loom Network is to give developers that platform.
…And this major development will not only benefit developers. It will also massively benefit end users on all chains.
How This Will Benefit End Users (On All Three Chains)
Ok, so interoperability clearly helps developers make more money by accessing more users.
But I'm going to make the argument that this doesn't only help developers make more money — integrating your favorite DApps with these other platforms actually benefits you as a user.
To start with, if developers of your favorite DApps are making more money, it means they have more time and resources to invest in improving their products.
Developers improving their products means you, the end user, get more value for free. You get better products and services, and the cost of building those improvements is subsidized by these additional users on other chains.
So yes, you actually WANT developers to be able to make money from the users on other platforms, even if you passionately hate those other platforms.
You also get access to more DApps — because if developers have to choose only one platform to build on, then some percentage of developers will choose one of the platforms you don't use.
If you, like me, only owned one gaming console as a kid — only to have that ONE game you really really wanted to play come out only on another system🤯🤬😭— you know what I'm talking about😉
On top of that, you have network effects and Metcalfe's law. For many types of DApps, the more users a DApp has, the more useful it is to each individual user.
An easy example of this is an online game. If the game doesn't have a critical mass of users, you have trouble even finding an opponent to match-make with when you want to play.
And especially in a blockchain-based game where you can sell your assets on a P2P marketplace — you want there to be as many users as possible who care about buying your assets, because that means you'll fetch a higher price for them.
When you're playing a mobile game, you don't care if your opponent is on Android or iPhone or Nintendo Switch — it doesn't detract from the fun factor. You still get to play the game from within the comfort of your preferred device, and you get plenty of opponents to play against, which is what you really care about.
But to address network-specific concerns, let's take a look at…
How this benefits Ethereum Users
Ethereum currently has the most developers building on it, as well as the most active community of users.
Recently other platforms like Tron and EOS have emerged as "threats" to the Ethereum ecosystem — in that a developer who would have built a DApp on Ethereum may be tempted to build it on Tron or EOS instead, due to their growing user counts and transaction volumes.
As these platforms grow, more and more developers may start to see them as a potentially more promising source of users and profits.
However, if a developer who would have been tempted to build on EOS to access their users had the option to access EOS users AND Ethereum users AND Tron users at the same time — why wouldn't they choose the latter option?
PlasmaChain is an Ethereum Layer 2 that runs Solidity contracts. So if we add these features and are able to give developers the ability to access these additional user pools from within the Ethereum ecosystem, we're keeping them building value on top of Ethereum, instead of straying elsewhere.
If we don't add these features — well, someone else eventually will, and it might not be built on top of Ethereum.
And if an EOS or Tron user obtains an Ethereum-based cryptoasset, they may choose to transfer it to Ethereum to use on Ethereum-only marketplaces and services, serving as an additional on-ramp.
So regardless of what you may think of these other chains, yes this will actually be a good thing for Ethereum. You will get more DApps and more utility as a result, and the Ethereum ecosystem will continue to thrive.
How this benefits Tron and EOS Users
This integration will bring you a lot more things you can do with your EOS or TRX tokens, increasing their token utility.
More games, more DApps, more fun and functionality.
Though EOS and Tron are growing rapidly, Ethereum still has a huge number of developers committed to building on it and a rich developer infrastructure — and this integration will give you access to a lot more of current and future DApps built by those developers.
Furthermore, you will get access to those DApps without ever having to leave the comfort of the Tron or EOS ecosystem. You will be able to interact with them using Scatter or Tronlink — just as easily as if they were native Tron or EOS DApps.
This integration brings you more DApps, more token utility, more users to play games with and liquidity for trading — and it brings it to you, instead of requiring you to sign up for another platform.
Why This Move Was Inevitable — Lessons From Other Industries
Network effects are a real thing.
However, it's exceedingly rare that one player takes ALL the market share in an industry. Typically, there are at least a few key players that the bulk of the market is divided between.
Even Amazon, who is an exceptional case and an absolute giant in the e-commerce industry, only controls 50% of the market. The "minor" players like eBay and Walmart still earn billions in revenue and have hundreds of millions of users.
Before Loom Network, a large portion of my background was in e-commerce. And I remember when one of my mentors once told me, "An Amazon customer is an Amazon customer, and an eBay customer is an eBay customer."
The point he was communicating is that studies have shown that many customers have only one place where they do their online shopping, and a large percentage of them never shop on any other platform. Like blockchain, users are highly fragmented across platforms.
As a merchant selling products online, the take-home message here was: if you're not selling your products on every single one of these platforms, you're missing out on potential customers and revenue.
It's possible that blockchain is different — that one platform will end up taking over 99% of the market and all other platforms will fade into oblivion.
But taking lessons from historical markets, it isn't likely. It's highly probable that multiple blockchain platforms will thrive, each with their own raving fans and passionate user bases.
As users, we tend to fall into camps and use only one platform exclusively. An Ethereum user is an Ethereum user, an EOS user is an EOS user, and a Tron user is a Tron user.
But for developers building products, they WILL want the ability to offer their apps and sell their services to the users on every platform.
This move to interoperability between all the majors chains is inevitable — and at Loom, we intend to capture that market with PlasmaChain.
Remember I mentioned owning a gaming console as a kid, only to be pissed when the game you really wanted didn't get released on your platform?
It probably wasn't the developers fault — it would have just been too much work for them to build the same game on multiple disparate platforms, as the tooling didn't exist to port from one console to another.
Luckily, nowadays they have tools like Unity — which allow them develop their game once, and then export it to every single device and console they desire.
For mobile games, developers now have a platform they can use to give all users on all platforms access to their games.
For blockchain DApps and games — developers will have Loom Network.
And as a user, you benefit most — because at the end of the day this brings way more utility to your platform than you'd have otherwise.
1. Games Will Be the Catalyst for Blockchain Mass Adoption
2. How Crypto Is Transforming the Gaming Ecosystem
3. Scalability Tradeoffs: Why "The Ethereum Killer" Hasn't Arrived Yet