RFP 12 - Cross-Chain Governance Over IBC

Researcher: TBD


It is common for protocols in DeFi to have instances on a number of blockchains. However, there is not a strong existing tool for carrying out the cohesive governance of these multiple protocol instances. The Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol potentiates the fast, seamless, and trust-minimized ability for protocols on different blockchains to interact and coordinate. However, we do not yet have a specific design for facilitating this IBC interoperability in the context of protocol governance.

Thus, the present research aims to contribute the following:

  • A model for protocols with instances on different blockchains to coordinate their governance using the IBC

Background & Problem Statement


Core background concepts/definitions are as follows:

Trustless Cross-Domain Interoperability & the IBC Protocol:

The Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) Protocol represents a great opportunity for advancing cross-chain interoperability. Not only is the IBC protocol cost- and time-efficient compared to many other bridges, but also it is trustless. Most popular bridges like Wormhole are trusted, meaning users must put their faith into a third party to uphold the security of the bridge and facilitate asset transfers. In contrast, IBC is trustless, as it uses cryptographic techniques (instead of a trusted third party) to ensure bridge security and reliability. As a result, users only need to trust in publicly visible code when transferring over IBC.

Composable has developed infrastructure that connects the IBC to the Cosmos Hub, Cosmos SDK chains, Polkadot and Kusama parachains, Ethereum (in testnet) and Solana (soon), with additional chains being added in the future. This means that these ecosystems and the protocols residing there are able to seamlessly interoperate in a trust-minimized, non-custodial manner.

Problem Statement

The problem here is that protocols with different instances on different blockchains want to coordinate their governance so that each instance is effectively the same, just with capability for functioning on different networks.

Thus, the question that this research aims to address is as follows:

  • How can the IBC be leveraged to enable protocols to coordinate governance of various instances on various chains?

Plan & Deliverables

Expected outputs/deliverables are as follows:

  • A model for protocols with instances on different blockchains to coordinate their governance using the IBC

The plan for achieving this output is outlined below:

Experiment 1: Understand how protocols currently manage instances cross-chain

We will collect data on current practices for cross-chain protocol governance. This will include identifying mechanisms that are effective/ineffective (e.g. pain points).

Experiment 2: Determine a model for cross-chain protocol governance via IBC

Using the data from the first experiment, we will develop a model for cross-chain protocol governance using the IBC. This model will aim to keep protocols as parallel as possible while also aiming to deliver secure, democratic, and fast governance implementation.


How to Participate

If you’re a researcher who believes that you would be a good fit to contribute to any of the Composable RFPs, please reach out to Composable’s Lead Research Associate, Sydney Sweck, at sydney@composable.finance. In the email, be sure to include:

  • The RFP number(s) you’d like to contribute to
  • Your relevant background experience
  • How you think you could contribute to the research