Towards Blockchain Interoperability

  • Stefan SchulteEmail author
  • Marten Sigwart
  • Philipp Frauenthaler
  • Michael Borkowski
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 361)


In recent years, distributed ledger technologies like blockchains have gained much popularity both within industry and research. Today, blockchains do not only act as the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but have also been identified as a potentially disruptive technology in many different fields, e.g., supply chain tracking and healthcare. The widespread attention for blockchains has led to manifold research and development activities. As a result, today’s blockchain landscape is heavily fragmented, with different, incompatible technologies being available to potential users. Since interoperability between different blockchains is usually not foreseen in existing protocols and standards, functionalities like sending tokens from one participant to another, or invoking and executing smart contracts can only be carried out within a single blockchain.

In this paper, we discuss the need for blockchain interoperability and how it could help to stimulate a paradigm shift from today’s closed blockchains to an open system where devices and users can interact with each other across the boundaries of blockchains. For this, we consider the areas of cross-blockchain token transfers, as well as cross-blockchain smart contract invocation and interaction.


Blockchain Interoperability Distributed ledger 



The work presented in this paper has received funding from Pantos GmbH1 within the TAST research project.


  1. 1.
    Nakamoto, S.: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Whitepaper (2008)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Buterin, V.: A Next Generation Smart Contract & Decentralized Application Platform (2013) Whitepaper, Ethereum FoundationGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tschorsch, F., Scheuermann, B.: Bitcoin and beyond: a technical survey on decentralized digital currencies. IEEE Commun. Surv. Tutor. 18(3), 2084–2123 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dannen, C.: Introducing Ethereum and Solidity. Apress (2017)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Prybila, C., Schulte, S., Hochreiner, C., Weber, I.: Runtime Verification for Business Processes Utilizing the Bitcoin Blockchain. Futur. Gener. Comput. Syst. (2019, in press) Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mendling, J., et al.: Blockchains for business process management - challenges and opportunities. ACM Trans. Manag. Inf. Syst. 9(1), 4 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lu, D., et al.: Reducing automotive counterfeiting using blockchain: benefits and challenges. In: 2019 IEEE International Conference on Decentralized Applications and Infrastructures, pp. 39–48 (2019)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li, M., Xia, L., Seneviratne, O.: Leveraging standards based ontological concepts in distributed ledgers: a healthcare smart contract example. In: 2019 IEEE International Conference on Decentralized Applications and Infrastructures, pp. 152–157 (2019)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yli-Huumo, J., Ko, D., Choi, S., Park, S., Smolander, K.: Where is current research on blockchain technology?-A systematic review. PLOS ONE 11(10), e0163477 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nofer, M., Gomber, P., Hinz, O., Schiereck, D.: Blockchain. Bus. Inf. Syst. Eng. 59(3), 183–187 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Li, X., Jiang, P., Chen, T., Luo, X., Wen, Q.: A survey on the security of blockchain systems. Future Gener. Comput. Syst. (2017, in press)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Borkowski, M., Ritzer, C., McDonald, D., Schulte, S.: Caught in chains: claim-first transactions for cross-blockchain asset transfers. Technische Universität Wien, Whitepaper (2018)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Komodo Platform: Blockchain Interoperability: Cross-Chain Smart Contracts (2018). Accessed 26 Apr 2019
  14. 14.
    Herlihy, M.: Atomic cross-chain swaps. In: 2018 ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Systems. ACM, pp. 245–254 (2018)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Borkowski, M., Sigwart, M., Frauenthaler, P., Hukkinen, T., Schulte, S.: DeXTT: decentralized cross-chain token transfers. arXiv:1905.06204 (2019)
  16. 16.
    Gatteschi, V., Lamberti, F., Demartini, C., Pranteda, C., Santamaria, V.: Blockchain and smart contracts for insurance: is the technology mature enough? Future Internet 10(2), 20 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jin, H., Dai, X., Xiao, J.: Towards a novel architecture for enabling interoperability amongst multiple blockchains. In: 38th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, pp. 1203–1211 (2018)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wood, G.: Polkadot Whitepaper (2019). Accessed 26 Apr 2019
  19. 19.
    Kwon, J., Buchman, E.: Cosmos Whitepaper (2019). Accessed 26 Apr 2019

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Schulte
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marten Sigwart
    • 1
  • Philipp Frauenthaler
    • 1
  • Michael Borkowski
    • 2
  1. 1.Distributed Systems GroupTU WienViennaAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Flight GuidanceGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)BrunswickGermany

Personalised recommendations