Alpha Launch — How We Got Here
Cross-chain is hard man. Over the last month, we saw one of the biggest exploits in all of crypto through the Wormhole saga.
There have been many tweets documenting the issue so we won’t go into full detail but basically, the exploit wasn’t a cross-chain consensus level exploit. Rather, it was an exploit in the verification of the signer on Solana (the issue was patched but Wormhole was using the unpatched version). Wormhole just happened to be the target since a) Wormhole used that line of code in the Solana Library and b) Wormhole was acting as a custodian for a large amount of ETH on Ethereum. Notice that the hacker went straight for gas tokens: mostly ETH on Ethereum and then SOL on Solana. There has not been a precedence of gas tokens being frozen for hackers, unlike some stablecoins.
So why are we even talking about this anyway? We’re launching our protocol and our protocol’s infrastructure is largely built on Wormhole. While the hack did give the crypto world a scare…
- It was not a “cross-chain” hack, rather an exploit that was already patched by Solana
- Wormhole was targeted largely because of its ETH reserves (most stealable asset)
So what now? Do we just give up the multi-chain future that we’ve been building towards?
Not at all. Jump recognized the potential impact this technology has for the multi-chain world and paid the price for all of us building on Wormhole to continue our mission.
So we continue — today, we launch our alpha product.
Let me tell you a quick story…
Here, at Swim, we have a research team consisting mostly of juniors within 2 years out of college. While they do lack professional crypto experience, they make up for that (manyfold) with raw, unfiltered, and degenerate excitement. They have the willingness to try any new protocol, chasing that fleeting 1,000%+ APY, no matter how bad the UI or how sketchy the docs appear (all good if you get your $5 research wallet drained — live and learn kiddo).
One day, there is a ton of traffic and networks are especially slow for most major L1s. One of our research guys, let’s call him Alex, is frantically trying to move assets across chains and uses one of the wrapping bridge solutions out there (not going to name the bridge protocol but this issue of dealing with wrapped tokens is prevalent when bridging assets). Alex starts bridging and suddenly starts yelling, “OMG I LOST MY FUNDS, WHY ARE TRANSACTIONS TAKING SO LONG? THE BRIDGE HAS RUGGED ME!”.
Whoa… slow down there Alex. In order to help the panic-induced crypto degen, I did the following:
- Read through the blockchain to see where his funds went
- Read the bridge docs for this issue and sure enough, there’s a UI component dedicated for this issue
- Found Alex’s initiating transaction
- Completed the “stuck” form
And ta-daaa, the bridge process has been completed. Funds are safu.
Alex doesn’t even ask me what happened under the hood. He’s shook and appeared as if someone had drained his wallet through a scam, and somehow magically, the CEO refunded him personally (he’s new to crypto). While I may not be new to DeFi, what I did here wasn’t that complicated: I read the block explorer, read the docs, and followed instructions. If you are a DeFi veteran, you can probably figure out how to bridge with the current solutions, but the unofficial survey I took from a few fellow DeFi veterans demonstrated that: bridging sucks, but we live with it.
Honestly, that’s just what we’ve done since the beginning of farming. Remember farming YFI at $800 with some sketchy docs and a UI that screamed scam? This isn’t the first time our funds went “missing” and we had to dig around in docs and explorers with fear in our hearts until we figured out how to retrieve it from the smart contract. Just because we’re okay with these kinks in the workflow, doesn’t mean that’s how it should be. We’re all building towards mass adoption right?
Enter Swim’s bridge status feature. The bridge status feature wasn’t built for DeFi players like me. It was built for people like Alex.
Our bridge status feature is a way for users to “see” where their funds are every step of the way, without having to understand the cross-chain complexity under the hood. This unique feature provides the ability to “push” your funds through the process if they happen to get stuck somewhere along the way, allowing anyone to continue bridging where the process left off. Today, we are proud to unveil the most basic version of these features in our alpha launch!
In conclusion, we’re excited to unveil our product! Although we’re constantly improving Swim’ functionality, hopefully this bridge status feature goes to show what our priorities are as we build towards a connected multi-chain world. If you have some time, check out some other exciting features on what makes us truly unique:
Pool Design: More information on why we built our pools the way that we did (Read more here)
TL;DR: the pools are designed based on a) what people have wanted to bridge historically and b) consolidating capital to one high throughput avenue
Relayer: some super cool stuff next on how cross-chain smart contract “calls” will improve the user experience while using Swim (Doc on Relayers coming soon)
TL;DR: Swim’s relayer design will enable cross-chain smart contract calls for added product functionality