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Polkadot Ecosystem Goes Multi-Chain With XCM Launch

Polkadot has finally made good on its promise of becoming a fully interoperable multi-chain ecosystem.

Polkadot Ecosystem Goes Multi-Chain With XCM Launch
Shutterstock cover by Quardia (edited by Mariia Kozyr)

Key Takeaways

  • Polkadot has launched XCM, a "Cross-Consensus Messaging" format allowing communication between the network's various parachains.
  • With XCM's integration, Polkadot is finally delivering on its promise of becoming a fully interoperable multi-chain ecosystem.
  • The system has been audited and tested on Kusama, Polkadot's pre-production testing ground.

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Polkadot has completed one of its most anticipated milestones: releasing the “cross-consensus” messaging format XCM and becoming a fully interoperable multi-chain ecosystem.

Polkadot Becomes Fully Interoperable

Polkadot’s long-awaited interoperability upgrade is finally live.

Polkadot, the scalable, heterogeneous, multi-chain ecosystem developed by Parity Technologies, announced today the launch of XCM—a “Cross-Consensus Messaging” format allowing communication between the network’s various parachains. According to a Wednesday press release, XCM’s launch means that the network has achieved its goal of becoming “a fully interoperable multi-chain ecosystem.”

Polkadot is a blockchain network hoping to achieve interoperability by hosting a web of interconnected, modular, and independent blockchains called parachains. A separate network dubbed the Relay Chain sits at its core, which serves as the foundational security layer for its parachains. XCM, otherwise known as the Cross-Consensus Messaging format, is a language that enables communication between parachains, smart contracts, and Substrate pallets that give blockchains custom functionalities. Commenting on XCM’s release, Astar Chief Technical Officer Hoon Kim said:

“I see traditional smart contracts on isolated Layer 1 chains like setting up shop in a kingdom surrounded by walls. Then we have bridges which are like a trading route that first connected nations from nations. Now we have XCM, which is like a free trade agreement for blockchains. This is the natural future.”

Full cross-chain interoperability has been the Polkadot ecosystem‘s most highly-anticipated feature. It is the essence of Polkadot’s vision and has been on the roadmap since the project entered development in 2017. The Cross-Consensus Messaging format, which will finally allow communication between Polkadot’s parachains, lands almost two years after the network went live in May 2020. Per today’s announcement, the system has been fully audited and tested on Kusama, an independent blockchain network that serves as Polkadot’s public testing environment. 

Polkadot has also confirmed that it is working on future system iterations known as XCMP or “Cross-Chain Message Passing,” which will allow direct parachain-to-parachain communication without any intermediation by the Relay Chain. XCMP will also allow messages to be sent to blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin when it goes live.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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