There are many reasons why Solana is one of the most popular blockchain ecosystems in the industry.
With thousands of dApps, a high-performance architecture, and innovative mechanisms such as proof of history, it’s no wonder why millions of users use the blockchain for all kinds of DeFi activities.
It’s not just about Solana’s native users — as the network grows, more users from other blockchains migrate their coins to Solana. Luckily for them, many cross-chain bridges exist to transfer their crypto from different blockchains to Solana.
The question, then, is, what bridge should you use? And most importantly, what is the correct way of doing it? This guide will serve as a blueprint for you as we answer these and other crucial questions.
However, let’s first understand what a blockchain bridge is.
What is a Cross-Chain Bridge?
The term might be self-explanatory, but a cross-chain bridge allows you to transfer the native assets from Blockchain A to Blockchain B to perform multiple activities. Imagine you want to transfer ETH or any ERC-20 tokens to the Solana blockchain or vice versa.
So, a cross-chain bridge is a middleman that transfers your ETH to the Solana blockchain or your SOL to Avalanche. There are usually two ways in which cross-chain bridges work. One is through a process called wrapping.
Bridging With Wrapped Crypto
A bridge creates a wrapped version of your coin at a 1:1 value. For example, we can use BTC on Ethereum by using a bridge that locks your BTC and creates a wrapped version called wBTC that can be used on the Ethereum network. The most popular bridge protocol for Bitcoin is called Wrapped Bitcoin.
It’s like going to space: you must wrap yourself up in a space suit to survive in that environment. Once you’re on Earth, you can take it off and breathe fresh air. Even though it’s the same you, you are wrapped in something that expands your capabilities. Similarly, coins from one blockchain cannot operate in other networks due to their architectural differences.
Wrapping is done through a smart contract that stores and transfers the asset’s information and data.
It’s also popular among DeFi investors, allowing them to use their coins in protocols built on different networks. An example could be a lending protocol or liquidity provider rising in popularity, so investors bridge their coins and get a token that can work on such a protocol.
The main drawback of wrapped assets is that they depend on custodians, which can raise questions regarding security, centralization, and counterparty risk. Moreover, they can be slow, expensive, and complicated.
However, it’s worth noting that there are wrappers based on smart contracts that do not rely on a third-party custodian but rather store the assets on-chain. With that, nonetheless, there’s a risk of protocol failure.
Bridging With Liquidity Pools
Other bridges have a different approach to swapping currencies. If a bridge leverages liquidity pools, it is because they incorporate staking and farming programs that prompt users to lock their assets into these pools to earn yield. The bridge then uses the assets to fulfill bridging requests.
Cross-Chain Bridge and Synapse Protocol are popular solutions. Here’s a summary of how they work:
- Bob wants to convert their Solana USDT to an ERC-20 version.
- Cross Chain Bridge receives Bob’s Solana-based USDT and taps into its liquidity pool of ERC-20 USDT.
- The bridge then sends Bob the equivalent amount in ERC-20 USDT, charging a small fee.
- Bob can always swap back his Ethereum-based USDT for his Solana-based version.
These bridges share similar drawbacks to wrapped assets — mainly security and centralization. But their main drawback is that these pools can be emptied anytime. That means you’d have to wait several minutes, hours — and even days — for someone to fill that pool with the pertinent assets.
Blockchain bridges can be categorized into two main types: Trusted (Centralized) Bridges and Trustless (Decentralized) Bridges. Trusted bridges rely on intermediaries — with the main drawback being centralization concerns. On the other hand, trustless bridges operate without
intermediaries, using smart contracts and decentralized mechanisms to enable asset transfers.
Despite aiming to be as trustless as possible, these bridges may still face security vulnerabilities, such as hacking, phishing, smart contract vulnerabilities, and liquidity issues. Therefore, users should always do their own research and use reputable solutions.
How to Bridge Crypto To Solana
There is a variety of cross-chain bridges for Solana, but in this example, we’ll use deBridge and Synapse.
We’ll use both for this example so you can see how they work. At the end of the article, you’ll see a list of the best Solana bridges so you can judge for yourself.
Step 1: Choose Your Bridge
For this example, we’ll use DeBridge, which uses a swap mechanism to bridge crypto, and Synapse, a popular cross-chain communications network.
Step 1: Head over to deBridge and choose Bridge; it’ll take you to the WeSwap.
Step 2: Connect your MetaMask wallet to the deSwap app.
Step 3: Choose which blockchain you want to bridge your assets from. In this case, we want to transfer from Ethereum (the source chain) to Solana (the destination chain).
Step 4: As seen above, the app will show you the source and recipient network, and what tokens you wish to exchange, and their respective equivalents. Choose ETH for Ethereum and SOL for Solana.
Step 5: To the left, you can see a switch that allows you to transfer your funds after they’re swapped. This comes in handy if you want to transfer your new tokens to an address automatically. You just have to enter your Solana wallet address.
Step 6: Click on Create Trade and wait for the checkout window. There, you’ll see the transaction’s gas price, the execution fee, and other important details. You can also change your slippage tolerance.
Step 7: Confirm the trade and wait for confirmation.
Step 8: Your MetaMask wallet will pop up, asking if you want to confirm this particular transaction.
Step 9: At the bottom right, you’ll notice a transaction pending/confirmation window. Click on Check Transaction Progress in the deBridge explorer to see more information about the transaction — e.g if it still is waiting for confirmation.
Once the transaction has been executed, your new funds will appear in your Phantom wallet.
Cross-Chain Swap on Solana Wallets
An alternative way to bridging assets is to do it within a Solana wallet.
There are Solana wallets that come with cross-chain swap functionalities through trusted third parties. One of those wallets is Phantom, which allows you to swap assets across different blockchains directly on its interface.
By the way, we also have a detailed guide on the top Solana wallets. Take a look:
On the Phantom app, click on the swap tab and choose the origination chain, the token (displayed at the top), and the coin you wish to swap your SOL for.
Double-check your quantities and confirm the origination and destination blockchains, then click on Review Order. This screen will show you the transaction details, including the estimated time, provider (the bridge), fees, and the best route for the trade (best price). If everything is correct, click on Swap.
Popular Solana Bridges
Popular bridges to Solana include Portal (previously Wormhole), Allbridge, Mayan Finance, and more. Each protocol has its own set of supported coins and blockchain networks and might employ different approaches to bridging assets, so make sure you review the guidelines provided by the bridge you choose to use.
Portal Bridge is a decentralized application built on top of Wormhole protocol and supports a wide range of blockchains, including L1 and L2 chains such as Ethereum, Arbitrum, BNB Chain, Solana, Polygon, and other 20 blockchains.
It also offers an NFT bridge — a rare feature — that supports transfers of NFTs based on the ERC-721 and SPL standards
Portal is backed by at least 19 reputable institutional stakeholder service providers called Guardians (which are network nodes).
- The fees will depend on the blockchain you choose but usually range from 0.03% to 0.04%, with a maximum fee of $1,000 USDC. The Guardians also take $0.0001 per transaction.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Pros of Portal
- Portal is one of the largest applications on top of Wormhole, providing high-speed swaps and transactions across multiple blockchains, including popular L1 and L2 networks, providing users with a varied list to choose from.
- Another feature to highlight is the low transaction fees charged by Guardians, besides the flat fee of 0.04%, capped at a maximum fee of 1,000 USDC.
Cons of Portal
- Security concerns: Wormhole was hacked for around $300M in February 2022, raising concerns about its long-term viability and its components like the Portal Bridge (since the latter is a cross-chain communication network). Despite being one of the largest cross-chain ecosystems, this is a stain in the protocol’s history.
- Another concern is the reliance on Guardians and their efficiency in defending the protocol against major attacks like the ones explained above.
Allbridge is a popular cross-chain solution for Solana. It facilitates cross-chain swaps across 22 blockchains, including Ethereum, TRON, NEAR, Tezos, Avalanche, and more.
Allbridge provides two core products:
- Allbridge Classic is a bridge between EVM and non-EVM compatible blockchains. It also adds certain features like staking.
- Allbridge Core: built specifically for cross-chain stablecoin swaps. It works without wrapping tokens and instead uses liquidity pools for tokens on each blockchain
The main difference between the two is that Allbridge Core is made for stablecoin swaps and provides access to TRON USDT (whereas Allbridge Classic doesn’t). Meanwhile, Allbridge Classic is more versatile since it provides features like staking and native token transfers and integrates the mint and burn mechanism, allowing users to transfer millions of dollars at any given time.
- Bridge fees will depend on the blockchains you’re interacting with (blockchain gas fees are separate).
- The protocol charges 0.3% for Solana transactions and 1% for Ethereum transactions.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Pros of Allbridge
- It is extremely user-friendly, and the bridging process is quite straightforward.
- It provides several blockchains to choose from as well as different features and options depending on the user’s need.
- Flexible transfer fees.
Cons of Allbridge
- Security: while Allbridge has taken major steps to improve its security, it was hacked in early 2023, and half a million were stolen. This raised concerns about the protocol’s security measures and long-term viability.
Arguably the most user-friendly protocol in the list, Synapse Protocol uses liquidity pools for its bridging services, providing near-instant liquidity for token trades.
Synapse allows you to transfer and swap a myriad of assets across 15 EVM and non-EVM blockchain networks, including Ethereum, Arbitrum, BSC, and Avalanche.
Interestingly, Synapse provides the two bridging services we talked about in the Bridge explanation of this article. It uses a “Canonical Token Bridging” service, which involves wrapping assets, and “Liquidity-based Bridging,” which allows you to bridge native assets through cross-chain stableswap pools.
While Synapse does have its bridge, it can also find routes across different bridges to provide you with the best prices for your trade. To use it with Solana and Ethereum directly, head over to the Solana Bridge section.
Synapse Protocol Fees
Synapse’s fee structure is not so different from other protocols. While Synapse provides efficient and high-speed trades, there are several fees involved in our transactions since multiple components are behind it, and they are:
- The Synapse Bridge fee for facilitating the token swap
- Liquidity provider’s fees
- Origination and destination networks fee
- Slippage and arbitrage fees may apply
Anyhow, you’ll end up paying around $3 or $4 (subject to multiple factors) in fees to perform your trade, but it highly depends on the amount you want to swap.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Uses an efficient farming and bridging mechanism to source liquidity from multiple sources, minimizing slippage.
- Leverages Layer-2 scaling solutions to perform cross-chain transactions more efficiently
- Enables cross-chain staking and provides opportunities for yield farming.
- Features an integrated decentralized exchange (DEX) and functions as a launchpad platform.
Cons of Synapse
- Limited amount of supported networks
- Fees can be higher than other protocols.
Now that you know how to bridge assets to Solana entirely on-chain, you are ready to go and hunt some of the upcoming airdrops:
Guide to Airdrops on Solana: The Most Popular Protocols Without a Token
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