What Are Crypto Bridges and How Do They Work?

Jan 22, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Crypto bridges are the highways that connect different blockchain networks, allowing them to exchange information and assets. 
  • Bridges enable a decentralized method for transferring crypto assets directly between chains without the need for a centralized exchange intermediary. 
  • Birthday Research has created a user-friendly cross-chain bridge that enables seamless transfers of assets between the DeFiChain and Ethereum blockchains. 
  • This bridge provides a decentralized gateway to access DeFiChain's features and services without any intermediaries.

As the world of Web3 continues to expand, a flood of unique blockchains and applications have emerged. 

You can trade decentralized assets on Ethereum, buy and sell NFT artwork on Solana, or explore the rapidly growing ecosystem of Polkadot. However, these innovative blockchains have a major drawback – they exist in isolation, unable to communicate with one another.

This is where crypto bridges come in – the infrastructure connecting these decentralized “islands” and enabling assets, data, and functionality to flow freely between them. 

Much like how you exchange currencies when traveling between countries, crypto bridges facilitate the transfer of tokens across separate networks.

In this article, we’ll unpack crypto bridges, the technology that powers them, and how you can leverage them to access opportunities in DeFi, NFTs, and more.

How do Crypto Bridges Work?

Crypto bridges are protocols that enable communication and interaction between different blockchains. 

They work by establishing a connection between two blockchain networks, allowing the seamless transfer of assets and data.

To move assets between two blockchains, crypto bridges rely on a network of validator nodes that stake their own native tokens to secure the network. 

When you initiate a transfer on a bridge, the validators lock up your assets on the origin chain, mint a wrapped version of those assets on the destination chain, and enable you to freely use or trade those wrapped assets.

For example, if you wanted to bring some USDT from Ethereum over to the DeFiChain network, you would essentially trade in your ERC-20 USDT for a wrapped version called dUSDT on the bridge. The dUSDT tokens would be backed 1:1 by the actual USDT locked on Ethereum, allowing you to seamlessly integrate into DeFiChain’s DeFi ecosystem.

The validator nodes facilitate all cross-chain transactions, coordinate between the two chains, and continuously monitor the asset pools on both sides of the bridge, ensuring that the value remains pegged. 

By relying on decentralized networks of validators rather than a centralized operator, crypto bridges allow for fast, affordable, and transparent movement of assets between chains. 

The technology unlocks an internet of blockchains – interoperable, collaborative, and increasingly useful as more bridges are built.

Accessing Other Blockchains and Ecosystems

One of the biggest benefits of crypto bridges is the ability to access and integrate different blockchain ecosystems. This opens up more options beyond just the assets and applications on one chain.

For example, the Ethereum network often faces congestion and high gas fees due to its popularity. By using a bridge, you can transfer ERC-20 tokens like USDC to a chain like Solana fairly seamlessly. This allows you to tap into Solana's much lower transaction costs and faster speeds.

On DeFiChain, you can trade assets on the decentralized exchange (DEX), provide liquidity for liquidity pools, or use a Vault to mint decentralized assets. Bridges enable you to fluidly move between chains to optimize for speed, cost, community, features – whatever you prioritize.

Beyond transferring assets, some bridges also relay transaction data between chains. This allows applications to work across different ecosystems, leveraging the strengths of multiple networks. For example, an NFT minted on Solana could be tradable on an Ethereum NFT marketplace after being bridged.

This cross-chain compatibility will only expand with time to include more blockchains and more complex transactions. Crypto bridges turn networks and communities that would normally be siloed off into interoperable lands you can travel between seamlessly. 

The future of Web3 is multi-chain, and bridges provide the key infrastructure that makes it possible.

Challenges and Limitations of Crypto Bridges

While crypto bridges provide expanded access across blockchains, they also come with some risks and limitations.

Security is one major concern, as bridges can be high-value targets for exploits. They rely on validator nodes to secure asset pools, but if a critical mass of validators were compromised, assets could potentially be stolen. 

An attack on the Wormhole bridge network underscored this vulnerability when $326 million in crypto was stolen in February 2022.

Centralization also poses issues for certain bridge architectures. Custodial bridges rely on a centralized entity to hold the assets, creating a honeypot for hackers. If this custodian is compromised, it could wreak havoc – as seen with the Ronin bridge hack, resulting in $625 million stolen.

There is also significant complexity with bridges that can inhibit adoption. To the average user, the minting and burning process required to wrap and move assets across chains can be overly complicated. Even for developers, building cross-chain applications requires deep blockchain expertise across multiple environments.

Finally, bridges often lack composability with the networks they are bridging. For example, smart contracts on Ethereum may not work as intended with wrapped ETH bridged over from Solana. This can limit functionality and integration.

While crypto bridges come with risks, they enable opportunities that outweigh potential downsides for most users. Crypto bridges facilitate thousands of daily transactions that benefit people around the world and crypto bridges like Quantum are leading the way in prioritizing user safety and security.

By choosing reputable providers, most people should be able to participate seamlessly while enjoying the unique advantages of decentralization. As the technology continues maturing, crypto bridges have the potential to empower more financial access, independence and innovation globally.

DeFiChain’s Quantum Bridge

Birthday Research has developed an innovative crypto bridge called Quantum Bridge that seamlessly connects the DeFiChain ecosystem to the Ethereum network, making it easy to transfer assets between the two blockchains. 

Using Quantum Bridge, you no longer have to go through centralized third parties to send coins from Ethereum/MetaMask to your DeFiChain wallet. With just a few clicks, your crypto is on its way to DeFiChain without the need for permission or KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements.

In this section, we'll walk you through how to use Quantum Bridge to send ETH from Ethereum to DeFiChain.

How to Use It

1) Once confirmed on both ends, your ETH will be bridged over to DeFiChain as dETH. The whole process is very quick and simple with Quantum Bridge. In just a few clicks, you can move assets between the Ethereum and DeFiChain ecosystems.

2) Carefully review the information to ensure it is correct. If everything looks good, click "Confirm Transfer on Wallet." A MetaMask popup will appear, asking you to confirm the transaction. Follow the prompts to finish initiating the transfer.

3) Next, select which asset you want to bridge. We'll bridge ETH, which will be converted to dETH when it reaches DeFiChain. Input the amount of ETH you want to send and your receiving DeFiChain address. Then click "Review Transaction" to confirm the details.

4) To get started, go to https://quantumbridge.app/ and connect your MetaMask wallet by clicking "Connect Wallet" in the upper right corner. Once connected, you'll need to decide if you want your transfer to happen instantly or be queued for up to 72 hours. For this demo, we'll choose the instant transfer option.

The Quantum Bridge enables seamless interoperability between these leading DeFi platforms and opens up whole new worlds of decentralized finance opportunities. Give Quantum Bridge a test run today


Decentralized finance enabled on Bitcoin. A blockchain dedicated to fast, intelligent and transparent financial services, accessible by everyone.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.