The ICON Foundation on Wednesday introduced ICON Bridge, an “early iteration of BTP” that will serve as an “interim bridging solution” as BTP development continues in the background.

Naturally, some of you may be wondering, “What? When did ICON Bridge become a thing? And why?”

The problem: High gas fees for BMV

Well, as you may recall from the ICON Foundation’s latest development roadmap update, the BTP development team had been experiencing an unforeseen challenge — namely, unsustainably high gas consumption fees incurred when executing the BTP Message Verifier Contract (BMV).

According to the ICON Foundation, the BMV is a “a live, miniature copy of the source blockchain that exists on the destination blockchain.” It’s what allows smart contracts to verify cross-chain transactions rather than trusted validators, and they require constant updating to mirror the original chain.

Unfortunately, keeping the BMV contracts updated has proven prohibitively expensive in terms of gas fees. ICON is getting more support from chief technology partner ICONLOOP to solve the problem, with several potential solutions already under review.

The interim solution: ICON Bridge

In the meantime, ICON will roll out ICON Bridge, the current iteration of BTP.

BTP has most of BTP’s functionality, but instead of the BMV contract, ICON will serve as the sole relay operator to pass messages and verify transactions between chains.

The ICON Foundation suggests you think of it like how ICON was the sole validator of the ICON blockchain prior to the network’s decentralization in 2019.

From the ICON Foundation:

ICON Bridge leverages BTP’s core building blocks and offers a bridging product that can be utilized by ICON dApps and other ICON Ecosystem projects, as well as projects in connected ecosystems. ICON Bridge will therefore serve the community’s bridging needs as we continue to build the final iteration of BTP in the background.

Like BTP, ICON Bridge is chain-agnostic and able to interconnect any blockchain that supports smart contracts. It will function in a comparable manner to many other popular cross-chain bridges throughout the industry. Those who have utilized bridges on other popular chains should feel just as comfortable using ICON Bridge.”

What this means is you can enjoy integrations between Moonriver Network, Binance Smart Chain and NEAR, as well as implementation of the originally proposed auction system for BTP that will aggregate cross-chain transaction fees into the Fee Aggregation SCORE.

Moreover, other chains will not have to hard fork to implement the bridge, which could induce other chains to join BTP.

The ICON Foundation counts on finishing internal testing of ICON Bridge by the end of March. After it launches, it will undergo an audit, though early adopters can begin using it as long as they bear the risk.

Finally, once the audit is over, the ICON Foundation will be using its Interoperability Incentive Fund to push the growth of the BTP ecosystem.