Summary: The optimal approach for utilizing crypto bridges involves selecting a reliable, audited, and user-friendly platform that facilitates seamless transfers between different blockchain networks. This includes Layer 1 bridges, Layer 2 bridges, and bridges that cater to both EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) and non-EVM environments.
To assist users in navigating the complex landscape of crypto bridges, we have compiled a list of the Top 5 best crypto bridges worth considering. Our selection process evaluates various critical aspects, including bridge security, compatibility with different blockchain layers, support for EVM and non-EVM chains, liquidity, fee structures, and the overall user experience:
Top Crypto Bridges for Cross-Chain Swaps
In a focused analysis to identify leading crypto bridges in the blockchain ecosystem, over 15 bridge protocols suitable for Layer 1 and Layer 2 networks were analyzed. Key considerations included liquidity, cross-chain compatibility, bridge token dynamics, fees, and overall security. After this detailed evaluation, a list of the top seven crypto bridge platforms emerged, each notable for its significant role in enhancing interoperability within the blockchain technology landscape.
1. Stargate Finance
Stargate Finance secures the top position as a community-driven organization building the first fully composable native asset bridge, and the first dApp built on LayerZero. Primarily supporting EVM-based chains like Ethereum, BNB Chain, Avalanche, and others, Stargate's vision is to make cross-chain liquidity transfer a seamless, single transaction process. With over $50 million in daily cross-chain trades, users can swap native assets like USDC on Ethereum for USDT on BNB.
What sets Stargate apart is its innovative approach to solving the bridging trilemma, offering instant guaranteed finality, native asset swaps, and unified liquidity across multiple chains. These features, coupled with community-owned unified liquidity pools and new APY opportunities through yield aggregators, solidify Stargate's position as the best overall bridge in the market, enhancing interoperability and efficiency within the blockchain technology landscape. For a detailed overview of their architecture, read our Stargate Finance explainer.
- Supported Chains: Ethereum, BNB Chain, Avalanche, Polygon, zkSync, Polygon zkEVM, Base + 5 more.
- Supported Tokens: ETH, USDC, USDT, MAI, STG, BTC.B, DAI, FRAX, WBTC, crvUSD and 50 more.
2. Across Protocol
Across Protocol ranks as the second-best cross-chain bridge, optimized for capital efficiency with a unified liquidity pool and a no-slippage fee model. Serving as the best bridge for L2s and rollups, it's secured by UMA's optimistic oracle. Across's single liquidity pool design, combined with an interest rate fee model, ensures lower user costs and higher yields for providers.
What sets Across apart is its use of third-party relayers for “fast fills” and UMA’s optimistic oracle for transaction confirmation. It also smartly keeps funds on their existing chain, rebalancing automatically every 4-8 hours. These innovative features, aligned with security and efficiency, establish Across Protocol as a prominent solution in the cross-chain bridge arena, epitomizing the bridge Ethereum deserves.
- Supported Chains: Ethereum, Arbitrum, Optimism, Polygon and zkSync.
- Supported Tokens: WETH, DAI, USDT, USDC, WBTC, BAL, ACX and more.
3. Orbiter Finance
Orbiter Finance emerges as the third-best decentralized cross-rollup bridge, focusing on transferring Ethereum native assets. As a vital infrastructure of Layer 2, Orbiter offers low-cost and almost instant transfers, supporting cross-rollup transfers between various platforms including Ethereum, StarkNet, zkSync, Loopring, Arbitrum, Optimism, Polygon, BNB Chain, and more.
The distinguishing features of Orbiter Finance include its safety, as it has less risk than other cross-L1 bridges, relying on the safety rollup technique. Additionally, transfers occur directly between the 'Sender' and the 'Maker's' externally owned address (EOA) on both 'Source' and 'Destination' networks, eliminating the need to interact with contract addresses. This approach ensures cheap and instant transfers without the need to mint assets, fully supporting liquidity in a decentralized way.
- Supported Chains: Ethereum, Arbitrum, Base, Linea, Starknet, Polygon zkEVM, Arbitrum Nova, Mantle, opBNB and 15 others.
- Supported Tokens: WETH, USDC, USDT and DAI.
4. Portal Bridge
Portal Bridge stands out as the fourth-best cross-chain bridge and a standout choice for non-EVM chains like Solana and Cosmos. Built on top of Wormhole, Portal Bridge locks the origin token in a smart contract and mints a new Portal wrapped token on the target chain, allowing users to swap those for other or native tokens on the target chain.
What makes Portal unique is its support for both ERC721 and SPL NFTs, enabling transfers between supported chains. The bridging fees are sub-cent, with gas fees being the most expensive aspect of the transaction. The Portal's approach to bridging, including the ability to register new tokens on a chain, and its support for various non-EVM chains, positions it as a leading solution for those looking to bridge tokens across diverse blockchain ecosystems.
- Supported Chains: Ethereum, Solana, Celo, Sui, NEAR, Moonbeam, Injective, Fantom and 10 more.
- Supported Tokens: WETH, USDC, USDT, WBTC, SOL, SUI, NEAR and DAI.
5. Hop Exchange
Hop distinguishes itself as the fifth-best cross-chain bridge, standing out as a good alternative for Layer 2s. Unlike most bridges that rely on off-chain actors like multisigs or oracles, Hop's security is 100% rooted on-chain, eliminating single points of failure or trusted off-chain actors. This approach has been essential in a landscape where over $3 billion of capital locked in bridges were hacked in 2022, mostly due to key compromises.
Utilizing a unique "Hub-and-Spoke" model with Ethereum as the main hub, Hop compresses origin messages into Bundles, transferring them between chains. This on-chain validation, along with Hop's Bonders fronting liquidity for users, creates a secure and efficient bridge solution. Hop's commitment to security and its exploration of interoperability use cases like cross-chain governance and NFT bridging solidifies its competitive position in the market.
- Supported Chains: Ethereum, Polygon, Gnosis, Optimism, Arbitrum One, Arbitrum Nova and Base.
- Supported Tokens: WETH, ETH, USDC, USDT, MATIC, DAI, HOP, SNX, sUSD, rETH and MAGIC.
What is a Crypto Bridge?
A Crypto Bridge, or blockchain bridge, is a connection that allows the transfer of tokens and/or arbitrary data between two different blockchain ecosystems. These ecosystems can be two entirely separate blockchains, such as Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain, or two different layers of the same blockchain, like Ethereum and its Layer 2 solutions.
Here's how it generally works:
- Locking Mechanism: On the source blockchain, the tokens you want to transfer are locked in a smart contract. This ensures that the tokens are taken out of circulation on that chain.
- Minting on the Destination Chain: A corresponding amount of tokens is minted on the destination blockchain. These can be the same tokens or a wrapped version of the tokens.
- Transfer Verification: The bridge uses various methods to verify the transfer, such as validators or relayers, who ensure that the locked tokens correspond to the minted tokens on the other chain.
- Unlocking and Reversal: If you want to move your assets back to the original chain, the process is reversed. The tokens on the destination chain are burned or locked, and the original tokens on the source chain are unlocked.
Is Bridging in Crypto Safe?
Bridging crypto, the process of transferring assets between different blockchains or layers, is an essential part of the decentralized finance (DeFi) landscape. However, it does come with certain risks.
According to our Crypto Bridging Statistics and Trends deep dive, the safety of bridging crypto largely hinges on the technology and protocols in use. While some bridges employ robust on-chain security measures, others have been compromised. In 2022, over $3 billion of capital locked in bridges were hacked, mainly due to key vulnerabilities.
Users must understand the underlying technology of the bridge and be aware of associated risks. Choosing reputable bridges that prioritize security, and following the latest security practices and guidelines, can mitigate these risks.
Navigating the intricate world of crypto bridges requires a discerning eye and an understanding of the underlying technology. The top five crypto bridges we've highlighted—Stargate Finance, Across Protocol, Orbiter Finance, Portal Bridge, and Hop Exchange—stand out for their innovative solutions, security measures, and commitment to enhancing interoperability within the blockchain ecosystem.
These platforms offer robust options tailored to various needs, including bridging between Layer 1 and Layer 2 networks, or between EVM and non-EVM environments. As the landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and selecting bridges that align with specific requirements and risk tolerance is key to a seamless and secure cross-chain experience.