Cosmos recently hosted an event titled “Updated Cosmos Roadmap and Interchain Security” featuring Billy Rennekamp, the new Cosmos Hub Lead.
On September 6, 2021, Billy participated in an interview conducted by popular YouTuber Cryptocito, which was soon followed by an exclusive Reddit AMA on September 7, 2021, giving the community the opportunity to ask Billy specific questions about Cosmos Hub and exciting future developments.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to tune in, you can find the links to both events here:
Below is a recap containing the key insights and highlights of the features and upgrades Billy foresees coming to Cosmos Hub in the short to mid-term.
The Cosmos team is currently preparing the Vega upgrade of the Cosmos Hub, which includes an update allowing for the use of Cosmos SDK v0.44.0. This version includes updates to the network’s stability and security, in addition to brand-new features such as the AuthZ and FeeGrant modules.
AuthZ provides any Cosmos account with permission to access other accounts in order to execute messages on their behalf, allowing the control of multiple accounts with different permissions to enhance the security and user experience within the ecosystem. FeeGrant lets one Cosmos account pay gas fees for a different account, helping developers facilitate onboarding methods where users can verify themselves and receive fee tokens to test applications, amongst other useful configurations.
Additionally, with the Vega upgrade, Cosmovisor has been improved upon to now have automatic backups to make it easier to implement new features without disrupting the network and validator processes.
There’s also been a recent proposal to include an IBC packet routing feature, which is an essential and important feature for Cosmos Hub as it will simplify the process of using it as a router.
The implementation of Gravity DEX marks a huge milestone and major value-add for Cosmos Hub. However, there are some arguments that Cosmos Hub could lose its credible neutrality through integrating a DeFi application, given that many believe it should preserve the ethos of hub minimalism through running fewer applications. The solution is to find the right balance between both sides of the spectrum — if there’s too much emphasis on one side, you’ll lose the benefits of the other.
Emeris marks the beginning of a new era of blockchain development and application on Cosmos. It provides an optimal user interface while also tying the API endpoints in the background of the different blockchains it aims to support. In essence, Emeris is creating a unified interface for multiple blockchains, coupled with a product suite that provides an overarching experience around other applications — all starting with Gravity DEX.
Interchain Security is a highly-anticipated feature coming to Cosmos Hub. The Cosmos Hub has the most mature set of validators, and high scaling capacity. With the implementation of Interchain Security, the Cosmos Hub can take this value to new heights and make its robust security available to other networks, directly enhancing the Hub’s utility and expanding ATOM functionality.
Interchain Security also allows for more options to be provided around the blockchain design space. For example, the more features and modules that run on a single blockchain inherently make it more prone to attacks or bugs. A successful attack on a DEX, bridge, or other modules could bring the entire Hub to a stop. Therefore, breaking out specific modules to run as independent blockchains, while using the same ATOM secured validator set, allows them to run in parallel as part of other state machines — if one is attacked, the others aren’t affected and can continue to operate normally.
As projects and dApps (decentralized applications) on Cosmos Hub begin to truly take off, they may begin to run into scalability issues, particularly once large amounts of users (in the millions) begin utilizing them. If this is the case, it makes sense to break up these modules into separate blockchains and enable horizontal scaling, especially when a single blockchain runs into its limit of vertical scaling. For further information on this exciting new feature, read Billy’s article on Interchain Security.
One Reddit AMA participant wanted to know whether chains that use Interchain Security from the beginning still need their own token and if there’s demand from projects to use it, to which Billy replied:
“V1 candidates include the chain name service, the Gravity DEX, and Ethereum bridge. As mentioned above, V1 is especially useful for scaling and security, both nice to haves but not absolutely necessary at this point. It is important, however, to progressively develop the technology, so deploying a live implementation of V1 will help us get to V2. It might be the case that we want to initially launch with something lower risk like an “empty” blockchain that just produces blocks, but is nonetheless secured by the full ATOM validator set. These plans are still being developed.”
Shared security testnets are tentative for deployment by Q4 2021 and on Cosmos Hub by Q1/Q2 2022.
Liquidity staking derivatives are another hotly-anticipated feature, one possible implementation is made possible by Interchain Accounts, an IBC-based protocol allowing for an entire blockchain to control an account on a separate chain.
For instance, one blockchain can own ATOM tokens and stake them on Cosmos Hub using interchain accounts. If it keeps track of all ATOM tokens staked, it can print transferrable derivative vouchers as they exist on the blockchain in the form of any coin or token.
Another Reddit AMA participant asked Billy what he’s most excited about for the Cosmos Hub, Cosmos ecosystem, and cryptocurrency in general, in the coming 12 months, where Billy replied:
“I’ve always been a huge fan of the work being done around Interchain Accounts. It’s one of the biggest value unlockers for interoperability that will have a huge impact on what becomes possible for blockchain-to-blockchain interactions…the most obvious and exciting uses of Interchain Accounts allow a whole category of liquid staking and staking derivatives, blockchain-to-blockchain business operations (like DAO fund management and DeFi operations), as well as an extensive benefit to custody providers who make it possible for institutional investors to participate in blockchain applications.”
IRISnet has driven a working implementation of an NFT module on its ecosystem through Uptick. They’ve also been pushing an SDK implementation of an NFT module, allowing those building on SDK to gain access to it.
One of the most promising uses is IRISnet’s project with the Chinese government. They have a library of congress containing precious Chinese art deemed important for the country’s history and culture. Several of these NFTs were minted with a compliant version of Cosmos SDK. To find out more about IRISnet and their NFT work, you can catch up on this article here.
IBC lets you use this NFT protocol to move these types of assets out from a private to public network, which extends and provides value and the application of NFTs to the broader Cosmos ecosystem.
As you can see, there are plenty of new and promising features in the works that will be integrated with the Cosmos Hub. In Billy’s own words:
“Personally I’m most excited about improving the user experience of interacting with blockchain technology. I think it’s one of the last hurdles to mass adoption.”
To that point, these upgrades and add-ons to Cosmos Hub are poised to bring in new waves of users and directly enhance the overall utilization of the chain. The next few months will undoubtedly mark very exciting times, so continue to stay tuned for more.