The Future of Decentralized Finance: Interoperability and Cross-Chain Solutions


26 May 2023
The Future of Decentralized Finance: Interoperability and Cross-Chain Solutions

The financial landscape has been revolutionized by decentralized finance (DeFi), which utilizes blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and cryptocurrencies to develop innovative and transparent financial solutions. One crucial element driving the future of DeFi is interoperability and cross-chain solutions, as the space experiences rapid growth. This article will discuss the importance of interoperability within the DeFi ecosystem and examine cross-chain solutions, concentrating on their impact on the future of decentralized finance.

Understanding Interoperability in DeFi

Often known as DeFi, decentralized finance signifies a fundamental shift in our understanding and engagement with conventional financial systems. DeFi, built upon blockchain technology, seeks to democratize finance by removing intermediaries, facilitating peer-to-peer transactions, and granting open and transparent financial services to anyone with internet access. The DeFi ecosystem has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, encompassing lending and borrowing platforms, decentralized exchanges, and yield farming, consequently attracting billions of dollars in investments and garnering interest from both institutional and retail investors.

Nonetheless, as the DeFi landscape grows more expansive and numerous blockchain networks are established, the demand for interoperability becomes increasingly vital. Interoperability denotes the capacity for various blockchain networks and decentralized applications (dApps) to communicate and seamlessly interact with each other. This interconnectedness is essential for DeFi's future because it enables efficient asset, data, and value transfers across diverse blockchain networks, opening up a realm of possibilities and promoting collaboration among distinct projects.

Check out our article about the future of DeFi

The Promise of Cross-Chain Solutions

Cross-Chain Solutions are rapidly emerging as the linchpin of future decentralized finance, promising to overcome one of the most significant barriers in the space - the lack of interoperability. At its core, a Cross-Chain Solution allows different blockchain platforms to communicate and interact with each other, enabling the seamless exchange of information and assets. This is a game-changer for DeFi as it could potentially unlock massive liquidity pools trapped within isolated blockchain ecosystems.

In addition, Cross-Chain Solutions also bring the potential for enhanced scalability, security, and efficiency. They provide the means for DeFi applications to leverage the strengths of multiple blockchain networks, bypassing the constraints tied to a single blockchain. This could lead to the creation of more robust and versatile DeFi services, opening up a myriad of opportunities for both developers and users.

Furthermore, Cross-Chain Solutions can foster a more inclusive and interconnected DeFi landscape. By allowing different blockchain networks to interoperate, they eliminate the barriers between disparate communities, bringing together diverse participants under a unified financial ecosystem. In essence, Cross-Chain Solutions hold the promise of creating a truly global and decentralized financial system, thus taking us one step closer to the original vision of blockchain technology.

Use Cases of Cross-Chain Solutions in DeFi

Use cases of Cross-Chain Solutions

Cross-chain solutions are already playing a crucial role in the DeFi space by enabling the creation of innovative financial products and services that were previously impossible. Here are some real-world use cases of how cross-chain technology is being used in DeFi today:

  • Cross-Chain Swaps: Cross-chain swaps allow users to trade assets between different blockchain networks without the need for a centralized exchange or intermediary. These swaps use atomic swaps to ensure the transaction is trustless and secure.
  • Liquidity Pools: Cross-chain liquidity pools enable users to provide liquidity across different blockchain networks. This means that users can earn fees and rewards for their participation. Liquidity pools use wrapped assets to represent the underlying assets, making it possible for users to provide liquidity across different blockchain networks.
  • Cross-Chain Derivatives: Cross-chain derivatives make it possible for users to create complex financial instruments that span multiple blockchain networks. For example, users can create synthetic assets that represent a basket of assets from different blockchain networks, or they can create options contracts that are settled on a different blockchain network.
  • Interoperability: Cross-chain technology facilitates interoperability between different DeFi protocols and platforms. This makes it possible to create new financial products and services that leverage the strengths of different platforms. For instance, users can use cross-chain technology to move assets between decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and lending protocols, or to create new lending products that span multiple blockchain networks​. 

Challenges and Considerations

The immense potential of cross-chain solutions in DeFi comes with several challenges and considerations that need attention. One significant obstacle is regulatory concerns and compliance requirements, given that multiple jurisdictions and regulatory frameworks are involved in cross-chain transactions. It is a complicated task to ensure compliance with these varied regulations while preserving DeFi's decentralized essence, necessitating inventive solutions and cooperation with regulatory authorities.

Moreover, addressing security and trust issues is crucial since the effortless transfer of assets and data across various chains creates new attack vectors and vulnerabilities. To safeguard user funds and uphold trust within the DeFi ecosystem, stringent security measures such as advanced cryptographic methods and smart contract audits are imperative.

Furthermore, attaining standardization and governance for cross-chain interoperability is vital to guarantee compatibility and smooth communication between different blockchain networks. The establishment of shared protocols, norms, and governance structures will encourage interoperability and promote the extensive adoption of cross-chain solutions in DeFi.

Finally, tackling user experience and adoption challenges is essential for achieving mainstream acceptance. Simplification of user interfaces, improved accessibility, and user education about the merits and functionalities of cross-chain solutions are all crucial elements for expanding the user base and realizing the full potential of DeFi interoperability.

The future with Cross-Chain Solutions

One of the key trends to watch out for is the rise of multi-chain DeFi platforms. With the advent of cross-chain technology, we are likely to see an explosion of platforms that operate seamlessly across multiple blockchain networks. This will open up new opportunities for users, allowing them to take advantage of the unique strengths and features of different blockchains. For example, users might be able to earn higher yields on one platform, enjoy lower transaction fees on another, and access unique financial products on a third, all without leaving the comfort of a single, unified platform.

Additionally, Cross-Chain Solutions will likely drive the development of more advanced and complex financial instruments. As demonstrated by the rise of cross-chain derivatives, there is significant potential for the creation of innovative financial products that leverage the interoperability of different blockchains. This could usher in a new era of financial sophistication and accessibility, in line with the ethos of DeFi.

Finally, Cross-Chain Solutions could play a key role in the mass adoption of DeFi. By breaking down the barriers between different blockchain networks, they could help bring about a truly global and inclusive financial system. Users from all corners of the world, irrespective of their local financial infrastructure, might be able to access a plethora of financial services, from basic savings and lending to advanced trading and investment opportunities.

In essence, the future of DeFi with Cross-Chain Solutions looks promising. The combination of interoperability, efficiency, and inclusivity brought about by this technology has the potential to redefine the financial landscape, making it more democratic, accessible, and resilient. The vision of a truly decentralized financial system might not be too far off.


Cross-chain solutions are revolutionizing the future of decentralized finance (DeFi). Interoperability, facilitated by cross-chain technology, is becoming increasingly crucial as the DeFi ecosystem expands. It enables seamless communication and interaction between blockchain networks and decentralized applications (dApps), opening up new possibilities and promoting collaboration. Cross-chain solutions offer significant advantages, including unlocking liquidity, enhancing scalability and security, and fostering inclusivity. They enable cross-chain swaps, liquidity pools, and derivatives, while facilitating interoperability between DeFi protocols and platforms. However, challenges such as regulatory compliance, security, standardization, and user experience must be addressed. The future with cross-chain solutions holds the promise of multi-chain DeFi platforms, advanced financial instruments, and mass adoption, ultimately reshaping the financial landscape into a more democratic, accessible, and resilient system.

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Applying Game Theory in Token Design

Kajetan Olas

16 Apr 2024
Applying Game Theory in Token Design

Blockchain technology allows for aligning incentives among network participants by rewarding desired behaviors with tokens.
But there is more to it than simply fostering cooperation. Game theory allows for designing incentive-machines that can't be turned-off and resemble artificial life.

Emergent Optimization

Game theory provides a robust framework for analyzing strategic interactions with mathematical models, which is particularly useful in blockchain environments where multiple stakeholders interact within a set of predefined rules. By applying this framework to token systems, developers can design systems that influence the emergent behaviors of network participants. This ensures the stability and effectiveness of the ecosystem.

Bonding Curves

Bonding curves are tool used in token design to manage the relationship between price and token supply predictably. Essentially, a bonding curve is a mathematical curve that defines the price of a token based on its supply. The more tokens that are bought, the higher the price climbs, and vice versa. This model incentivizes early adoption and can help stabilize a token’s economy over time.

For example, a bonding curve could be designed to slow down price increases after certain milestones are reached, thus preventing speculative bubbles and encouraging steadier, more organic growth.

The Case of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s design incorporates game theory, most notably through its consensus mechanism of proof-of-work (PoW). Its reward function optimizes for security (hashrate) by optimizing for maximum electricity usage. Therefore, optimizing for its legitimate goal of being secure also inadvertently optimizes for corrupting natural environment. Another emergent outcome of PoW is the creation of mining pools, that increase centralization.

The Paperclip Maximizer and the dangers of blockchain economy

What’s the connection between AI from the story and decentralized economies? Blockchain-based incentive systems also can’t be turned off. This means that if we design an incentive system that optimizes towards a wrong objective, we might be unable to change it. Bitcoin critics argue that the PoW consensus mechanism optimizes toward destroying planet Earth.

Layer 2 Solutions

Layer 2 solutions are built on the understanding that the security provided by this core kernel of certainty can be used as an anchor. This anchor then supports additional economic mechanisms that operate off the blockchain, extending the utility of public blockchains like Ethereum. These mechanisms include state channels, sidechains, or plasma, each offering a way to conduct transactions off-chain while still being able to refer back to the anchored security of the main chain if necessary.

Conceptual Example of State Channels

State channels allow participants to perform numerous transactions off-chain, with the blockchain serving as a backstop in case of disputes or malfeasance.

Consider two players, Alice and Bob, who want to play a game of tic-tac-toe with stakes in Ethereum. The naive approach would be to interact directly with a smart contract for every move, which would be slow and costly. Instead, they can use a state channel for their game.

  1. Opening the Channel: They start by deploying a "Judge" smart contract on Ethereum, which holds the 1 ETH wager. The contract knows the rules of the game and the identities of the players.
  2. Playing the Game: Alice and Bob play the game off-chain by signing each move as transactions, which are exchanged directly between them but not broadcast to the blockchain. Each transaction includes a nonce to ensure moves are kept in order.
  3. Closing the Channel: When the game ends, the final state (i.e., the sequence of moves) is sent to the Judge contract, which pays out the wager to the winner after confirming both parties agree on the outcome.

A threat stronger than the execution

If Bob tries to cheat by submitting an old state where he was winning, Alice can challenge this during a dispute period by submitting a newer signed state. The Judge contract can verify the authenticity and order of these states due to the nonces, ensuring the integrity of the game. Thus, the mere threat of execution (submitting the state to the blockchain and having the fraud exposed) secures the off-chain interactions.

Game Theory in Practice

Understanding the application of game theory within blockchain and token ecosystems requires a structured approach to analyzing how stakeholders interact, defining possible actions they can take, and understanding the causal relationships within the system. This structured analysis helps in creating effective strategies that ensure the system operates as intended.

Stakeholder Analysis

Identifying Stakeholders

The first step in applying game theory effectively is identifying all relevant stakeholders within the ecosystem. This includes direct participants such as users, miners, and developers but also external entities like regulators, potential attackers, and partner organizations. Understanding who the stakeholders are and what their interests and capabilities are is crucial for predicting how they might interact within the system.

Stakeholders in blockchain development for systems engineering

Assessing Incentives and Capabilities

Each stakeholder has different motivations and resources at their disposal. For instance, miners are motivated by block rewards and transaction fees, while users seek fast, secure, and cheap transactions. Clearly defining these incentives helps in predicting how changes to the system’s rules and parameters might influence their behaviors.

Defining Action Space

Possible Actions

The action space encompasses all possible decisions or strategies stakeholders can employ in response to the ecosystem's dynamics. For example, a miner might choose to increase computational power, a user might decide to hold or sell tokens, and a developer might propose changes to the protocol.

Artonomus, Github

Constraints and Opportunities

Understanding the constraints (such as economic costs, technological limitations, and regulatory frameworks) and opportunities (such as new technological advancements or changes in market demand) within which these actions take place is vital. This helps in modeling potential strategies stakeholders might adopt.

Artonomus, Github

Causal Relationships Diagram

Mapping Interactions

Creating a diagram that represents the causal relationships between different actions and outcomes within the ecosystem can illuminate how complex interactions unfold. This diagram helps in identifying which variables influence others and how they do so, making it easier to predict the outcomes of certain actions.

Artonomus, Github

Analyzing Impact

By examining the causal relationships, developers and system designers can identify critical leverage points where small changes could have significant impacts. This analysis is crucial for enhancing system stability and ensuring its efficiency.

Feedback Loops

Understanding feedback loops within a blockchain ecosystem is critical as they can significantly amplify or mitigate the effects of changes within the system. These loops can reinforce or counteract trends, leading to rapid growth or decline.

Reinforcing Loops

Reinforcing loops are feedback mechanisms that amplify the effects of a trend or action. For example, increased adoption of a blockchain platform can lead to more developers creating applications on it, which in turn leads to further adoption. This positive feedback loop can drive rapid growth and success.

Death Spiral

Conversely, a death spiral is a type of reinforcing loop that leads to negative outcomes. An example might be the increasing cost of transaction fees leading to decreased usage of the blockchain, which reduces the incentive for miners to secure the network, further decreasing system performance and user adoption. Identifying potential death spirals early is crucial for maintaining the ecosystem's health.

The Death Spiral: How Terra's Algorithmic Stablecoin Came Crashing Down
the-death-spiral-how-terras-algorithmic-stablecoin-came-crashing-down/, Forbes


The fundamental advantage of token-based systems is being able to reward desired behavior. To capitalize on that possibility, token engineers put careful attention into optimization and designing incentives for long-term growth.


  1. What does game theory contribute to blockchain token design?
    • Game theory optimizes blockchain ecosystems by structuring incentives that reward desired behavior.
  2. How do bonding curves apply game theory to improve token economics?
    • Bonding curves set token pricing that adjusts with supply changes, strategically incentivizing early purchases and penalizing speculation.
  3. What benefits do Layer 2 solutions provide in the context of game theory?
    • Layer 2 solutions leverage game theory, by creating systems where the threat of reporting fraudulent behavior ensures honest participation.

Token Engineering Process

Kajetan Olas

13 Apr 2024
Token Engineering Process

Token Engineering is an emerging field that addresses the systematic design and engineering of blockchain-based tokens. It applies rigorous mathematical methods from the Complex Systems Engineering discipline to tokenomics design.

In this article, we will walk through the Token Engineering Process and break it down into three key stages. Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase.

Discovery Phase of Token Engineering Process

The first stage of the token engineering process is the Discovery Phase. It focuses on constructing high-level business plans, defining objectives, and identifying problems to be solved. That phase is also the time when token engineers first define key stakeholders in the project.

Defining the Problem

This may seem counterintuitive. Why would we start with the problem when designing tokenomics? Shouldn’t we start with more down-to-earth matters like token supply? The answer is No. Tokens are a medium for creating and exchanging value within a project’s ecosystem. Since crypto projects draw their value from solving problems that can’t be solved through TradFi mechanisms, their tokenomics should reflect that. 

The industry standard, developed by McKinsey & Co. and adapted to token engineering purposes by Outlier Ventures, is structuring the problem through a logic tree, following MECE.
MECE stands for Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive. Mutually Exclusive means that problems in the tree should not overlap. Collectively Exhaustive means that the tree should cover all issues.

In practice, the “Problem” should be replaced by a whole problem statement worksheet. The same will hold for some of the boxes.
A commonly used tool for designing these kinds of diagrams is the Miro whiteboard.

Identifying Stakeholders and Value Flows in Token Engineering

This part is about identifying all relevant actors in the ecosystem and how value flows between them. To illustrate what we mean let’s consider an example of NFT marketplace. In its case, relevant actors might be sellers, buyers, NFT creators, and a marketplace owner. Possible value flow when conducting a transaction might be: buyer gets rid of his tokens, seller gets some of them, marketplace owner gets some of them as fees, and NFT creators get some of them as royalties.

Incentive Mechanisms Canvas

The last part of what we consider to be in the Discovery Phase is filling the Incentive Mechanisms Canvas. After successfully identifying value flows in the previous stage, token engineers search for frictions to desired behaviors and point out the undesired behaviors. For example, friction to activity on an NFT marketplace might be respecting royalty fees by marketplace owners since it reduces value flowing to the seller.


Design Phase of Token Engineering Process

The second stage of the Token Engineering Process is the Design Phase in which you make use of high-level descriptions from the previous step to come up with a specific design of the project. This will include everything that can be usually found in crypto whitepapers (e.g. governance mechanisms, incentive mechanisms, token supply, etc). After finishing the design, token engineers should represent the whole value flow and transactional logic on detailed visual diagrams. These diagrams will be a basis for creating mathematical models in the Deployment Phase. 

Token Engineering Artonomous Design Diagram
Artonomous design diagram, source: Artonomous GitHub

Objective Function

Every crypto project has some objective. The objective can consist of many goals, such as decentralization or token price. The objective function is a mathematical function assigning weights to different factors that influence the main objective in the order of their importance. This function will be a reference for machine learning algorithms in the next steps. They will try to find quantitative parameters (e.g. network fees) that maximize the output of this function.
Modified Metcalfe’s Law can serve as an inspiration during that step. It’s a framework for valuing crypto projects, but we believe that after adjustments it can also be used in this context.

Deployment Phase of Token Engineering Process

The Deployment Phase is final, but also the most demanding step in the process. It involves the implementation of machine learning algorithms that test our assumptions and optimize quantitative parameters. Token Engineering draws from Nassim Taleb’s concept of Antifragility and extensively uses feedback loops to make a system that gains from arising shocks.

Agent-based Modelling 

In agent-based modeling, we describe a set of behaviors and goals displayed by each agent participating in the system (this is why previous steps focused so much on describing stakeholders). Each agent is controlled by an autonomous AI and continuously optimizes his strategy. He learns from his experience and can mimic the behavior of other agents if he finds it effective (Reinforced Learning). This approach allows for mimicking real users, who adapt their strategies with time. An example adaptive agent would be a cryptocurrency trader, who changes his trading strategy in response to experiencing a loss of money.

Monte Carlo Simulations

Token Engineers use the Monte Carlo method to simulate the consequences of various possible interactions while taking into account the probability of their occurrence. By running a large number of simulations it’s possible to stress-test the project in multiple scenarios and identify emergent risks.

Testnet Deployment

If possible, it's highly beneficial for projects to extend the testing phase even further by letting real users use the network. Idea is the same as in agent-based testing - continuous optimization based on provided metrics. Furthermore, in case the project considers airdropping its tokens, giving them to early users is a great strategy. Even though part of the activity will be disingenuine and airdrop-oriented, such strategy still works better than most.

Time Duration

Token engineering process may take from as little as 2 weeks to as much as 5 months. It depends on the project category (Layer 1 protocol will require more time, than a simple DApp), and security requirements. For example, a bank issuing its digital token will have a very low risk tolerance.

Required Skills for Token Engineering

Token engineering is a multidisciplinary field and requires a great amount of specialized knowledge. Key knowledge areas are:

  • Systems Engineering
  • Machine Learning
  • Market Research
  • Capital Markets
  • Current trends in Web3
  • Blockchain Engineering
  • Statistics


The token engineering process consists of 3 steps: Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase. It’s utilized mostly by established blockchain projects, and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund. Even though it’s a very resource-consuming process, we believe it’s worth it. Projects that went through scrupulous design and testing before launch are much more likely to receive VC funding and be in the 10% of crypto projects that survive the bear market. Going through that process also has a symbolic meaning - it shows that the project is long-term oriented.

If you're looking to create a robust tokenomics model and go through institutional-grade testing please reach out to Our team is ready to help you with the token engineering process and ensure your project’s resilience in the long term.


What does token engineering process look like?

  • Token engineering process is conducted in a 3-step methodical fashion. This includes Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase. Each of these stages should be tailored to the specific needs of a project.

Is token engineering meant only for big projects?

  • We recommend that even small projects go through a simplified design and optimization process. This increases community's trust and makes sure that the tokenomics doesn't have any obvious flaws.

How long does the token engineering process take?

  • It depends on the project and may range from 2 weeks to 5 months.