Just last week, I told my mother I’m writing for an online publication about blockchain and cryptocurrency. Her answer was, simply, “I don’t understand.

The blockchain world is full of jargon and ideas that are invariably alien to the vast majority of the mainstream populace — so much so that, for all intents and purposes, it might seem akin to technological magic. Explaining such concepts to Muggles often results in frustration, sometimes with interest piqued yet little actual understanding gained.

But what if a non-crypto-savvy person wanted to, say, try out a DApp? How could they do that without going through the whole trial and error learning process the cryptocurrency world is infamous for?

All you need is email and a bank account

Enter Bridge, the newest product kick-started by ICX_Station’s ICON incubator program. An easy-to-use non-custodial wallet built to be implemented in any ICON product that requires cryptocurrency transactions, Bridge allows the user to onboard fiat USD directly from their bank account and cash out the same way. All the user needs is an email address and a bank account.

“The idea behind Bridge is that we wanted regular people to be able to interact with blockchain services,” an ICX_Station representative told The Iconist. “A lot of current blockchain services cater towards existing blockchain / crypto-native folks, but the reason why we’re working on blockchain projects is to make this technology feasible for others. We felt that the current experience with wallets does not do this. We thought that something like Bridge could bridge the gap — as the name literally refers to — between the regular world and the crypto world.”

Building the Bridge

Two of Bridge’s biggest selling points are based on a couple of partnerships that made it possible to integrate separate technologies into a seamless package. ICX_Station explains:

“We partnered with a San Francisco based company called Magic to enable people to use their email as their public key / private key pair. You don’t need to memorize your keys, but can instead just use your email address to log in like with standard websites.

“Secondly, the wallet itself has a fiat to digital stablecoin converter through a company called Stably. People from over 150 countries can deposit or wire money to Stably and then mint USDS stablecoins on Bridge.”

There are other advantages to using Bridge, too. “When you want to work with a non-custodial wallet, typically you need to pay for your gas fee. However, Bridge takes advantage of fee-sharing, a feature of the ICON blockchain, that pays for users’ gas fees on up to 50 USDS transactions per day, per wallet,” ICX_Station said. “Because ICX transaction fees are so cheap, people can spend these stablecoins on a lot of different things.”

Coming to a DApp near you

A newly released ICON product, development on Bridge was just finished in late July 2021, and it launched as a fiat onboarding option for Omm in August. Once it graduates through its beta testing phase on Omm, Bridge will be released to other ICON developers for integration with their DApps. The integration process is relatively easy and shouldn’t take developers too much time, according to ICX_Station.

In fact, ICX_Station is already in talks with Craft Network and Fandiem to use Bridge as a payment gateway. Other ICON developers interested in integrating Bridge can contact ICX_Station to discuss the details — their email address can be found at the bottom of the BridgePay website.

And of course, ICON wouldn’t be ICON without making good on its promise to hyperconnect the world. The Bridge development team is hard at work developing cross-chain compatibility, soon to bring the Bridge technology to other blockchain ecosystems. The project will join ICON 2.0’s excellent BTP support, ICE and other ICON projects in bridging the gap between blockchain ecosystems and embracing the greater blockchain community in general.

Also from the incubator

In addition to Bridge, ICON P-Rep team ICX_Station has helped kickstart a number of other great projects through their ICON incubator program, including Balanced, Omm and Craft Network.

“ICX_Station started off as an accelerator for the ICON ecosystem,” ICX_Station told us. “Unfortunately, when the bear market happened in 2018, a lot of developers stopped showing interest. So, we figured that we know what needs to be done in the ecosystem, so why don’t we just work on it ourselves directly with the community? Our new approach is to work directly with different ICON community members on different projects.”

And by the way…

Astute readers may have heard of Orbit Bridge, and may be wondering if there is any connection with this Bridge product. There is not. ICON began a partnership with the Orbit Bridge inter-blockchain communication (IBC) platform last year and made a big announcement at around the same time ICX_Station’s Bridge project was being announced, which may have caused some confusion. We wanted to make the distinction between these two projects clear — they are not related in any way.