Could the launch of the revolutionary interoperability solution BTP come as early as next month?

And what’s next for ICON Bridge after its successful demonstration of cross-chain NFT minting?

The Iconist recently talked with ICON Foundation chief Min Kim about this and all other things ICON.

It’s a long interview, which for the sake of convenience we’ve broken up into two parts.

Part II

In Part I below, we focus the conversation on two important pieces of the ICON puzzle: the innovative, completely decentralized interoperability solution Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) and its simpler, centralized counterpart, ICON Bridge.

ICON Bridge: safety first

The first thing we talked to Min about was ICON Bridge, the “lite” version of BTP. ICON Bridge does most of what BTP does, albeit in a centralized way.

According to Min, ICON Bridge is undergoing a lot of testing, and its front end is being updated.

Obviously, we’re talking about a very raw, unpolished beta product, so we don’t want to go out there with a full swing and open ourselves to any exploits,” he says. “So we’re being extra careful.”

ICON Bridge — and indeed, BTP itself — is a very new technology, says Min, which means for the third parties and developer teams with whom ICON is working, it’s “learn as you go.”

The recent high profile hacks of bridging solutions on several other networks has focused attention on bridge security. ICON takes security — and its corollary, testing — extremely seriously, even if this adds to the wait.

Min stresses that testing takes a lot of time. He says, “Once you tweak something, you have to start the testing all over again.”

The attacks on other bridging solutions have also served as a warning — a warning ICON is heading.

It makes you think about more proactive measures and security risks that we need to think about when such events happen,” says Min.

We are coming up with proactive and reactive protocols so we can minimize any risks that we face or might face in the future.”

Although ICON Bridge has yet to officially “launch,” per se, it did get a pretty rigorous field test when it was used to mint NFTs across chains during Wonder Game’s recent pre-sale.

Are there other immediate use cases in the works? Min points to applications on the ICON blockchain itself, such as DeFi solution Balanced, OMM and Craft.

Applications on ICON are very eager to start using the Bridge product. So those are the immediate, no-brainer use cases of bringing assets from other chains to ICON,” he says.

But it’s not just that. A lot of these applications on ICON are planning to utilize ICON Bridge to the max, meaning that they’ll be integrating other chains into the application so that they’ll be more chain agnostic as well.”

BTP: Secure, flexible, cheap

We then moved on to BTP, arguably ICON’s most revolutionary piece of technology.

This fully trustless solution allows for complete interoperability between different blockchain networks. 

Min says the goal for this year is to launch BTP 2.0, the fully complete version of the solution.

We think the verifier contract on ICON is what makes the BTP unique,” he says. “There are a lot of bridges out there, and honestly, ICON Bridge isn’t that different. It’s sort of the first step to get there. But what makes our technology unique is the architecture behind the message verifier, and some of the token economics behind the BTP system.”

Why should developers use BTP? Min points to three main selling points: security, flexibility and cost.

Security is the No. 1 reason,” he says. “There’s a general consensus within the industry that the light client/relay node method is the most secure way to bridge assets. We feel we have figured out a way to lower transaction fees and do everything through smart contracts. So I think we have a very powerful value proposition from the security aspect alone.”

We are able to bridge between other non-ICON chains without a hard fork,” he adds. “Because everything is run through a smart contract.”

Ultimately, though, what BTP really does is “open the door to how far your creativity can go.”

The possibilities are endless. Developers can implement arbitrary contract calls between disparate blockchains. Users can participate in governance in other blockchains without leaving their ICON wallet.

That’s something we’re all dreaming about. The convenience of staying in one chain,” says Min. “We could even claim staking rewards on different chains without switching wallets.”

When BTP? August, you say?

Of course, many inside and outside the ICON community are asking when BTP will finally launch.

Min understands the frustration of the community with the “moving target” that has seemingly become the launch date.

Nevertheless, in terms of features, BTP is “almost there,” he says. It’s mostly a question of testing.

We’ll see how we feel at the end of this month,” he says. “We’ll see if we’re ready to go in August. It could be early August. The end of August.”

Nevertheless, Min cautions the community that you can’t rush technology that is this bleeding edge.

Something like this is so different and so cutting edge that you can’t really compare it to launching a DApp or launching an iPhone app,” he says. “It’s a very different technology, a very different product.”

Very real progress is still being made, though, and when BTP is truly ready, it will finally be unleashed upon an eager world.

You’ve seen some of that progress with Wonder Game,” says Min. “We’re not just feeding hopium to everyone. It’s really, really close. It’s one of those things. You can smell it, you can feel it. It’s right in front of you. You just want to get it out there. But you know you can be better prepared.