What Is Wormhole (W)?
What Is Wormhole (W)?

What Is Wormhole (W)?

Updated Jul 2, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Wormhole is a leading interoperability platform powering multichain applications and bridges at scale.

  • Wormhole’s architecture is designed for security and scalability, leveraging the battle-tested Guardian Network for message verification. 

  • Wormhole offers powerful open-source protocols and tools in the form of Wormhole Queries, Native Token Transfers (NTT), and Wormhole Messaging.

  • Multichain applications powered by Wormhole range from DEXs and aggregators to lending protocols, bridges, and more. W is the native token that powers the Wormhole platform.

What Is Wormhole?

Wormhole is a leading interoperability platform powering multichain applications and bridges at scale. Wormhole’s modular suite of open source, permissionless protocols and tools are being used by multichain builders to create some of the most popular web3 applications.

As of June 2024, multichain builders of over 200 applications and more than 1 million unique wallets are using Wormhole to move various types of data across 30+ blockchains. These solutions are primarily facilitated by Wormhole's foundational Messaging protocol, which allows for the secure transfer of arbitrary data between blockchains.

By breaking down the silos that typically isolate blockchain ecosystems, Wormhole creates a more integrated and connected Web3 landscape, significantly improving the UX of decentralized applications (DApps) in a multichain world.

Wormhole Architecture

Wormhole's unique architecture is built with security as a priority and consists of several key components that work together to facilitate highly secure and scalable cross-chain communication.

On-chain, the key components include the Emitter, the Wormhole Core Contracts, and Transaction Logs. The Emitter is a smart contract that calls the publish message method on the Core Contracts. The core contract writes an event to the Transaction Logs with details about the emitter and sequence number to identify the message. The transaction Logs allow the Guardians to observe and verify messages emitted by the core contract.

Off-chain, the architecture relies on the Guardian Network, a set of 19 validators consisting of leading Web3 companies. Each Guardian runs a full node of every blockchain in the Wormhole network, enabling them to fully verify transactions. Verified messages are signed, creating Verifiable Action Approvals (VAAs). These signed messages can be checked by the Core Contract of any other blockchain to ensure authenticity.

Relayers deliver these signed messages to the target blockchain. However, the system’s security does not depend on relayers, and they do not introduce additional trust assumptions since the Guardian signatures alone ensure message authenticity. This design choice minimizes the risk associated with relayers in the system.

The Wormhole Product Suite

Wormhole offers a comprehensive product suite to developers that consists of both application layer tooling, as well as core infrastructure. On both levels of the stack, Wormhole provides market-leading solutions that enable secure multichain applications and cross-chain value transfers.

Application Layer:

Wormhole Connect

Wormhole Connect is designed to facilitate asset transfers between blockchains with minimal overhead. Transfers through Connect only require gas fees on the source chain, as relayers provide native gas tokens on the destination chain, allowing for instant transactions. This feature can be integrated into any application in just three lines of code. The in-app bridging widget enables users to bridge assets without leaving the platform at all, significantly improving UX.

Wormhole SDK

The Wormhole SDK offers a universal API that provides a unified interface across different blockchains, considerably simplifying the development process. The modular SDK allows developers to tailor their experience by including only the necessary components, ensuring smaller bundles and faster startup times. It also features a flexible signer interface for custom gas or fee strategies and router plug-ins that identify the best routes for cross-chain transactions.

Infrastructure Layer:

Native Token Transfers (NTT)

Native Token Transfers (NTT) is an open framework that enables the seamless creation and transfer of multichain tokens, ensuring they maintain their inherent properties across different blockchains. NTT does not require liquidity pools, eliminating associated fees, slippage, and miner extractable value (MEV) risks. The integrator-friendly framework allows developers to maintain ownership, upgrade authority, and customize their tokens while ensuring broad composability and synchronized token states across multiple chains.

Wormhole Queries

Wormhole Queries enables developers to perform efficient, on-demand cross-chain data retrieval and attestation. Using existing state and read calls, Queries simplifies cross-chain development and reduces the need for complex code. Queries help save on gas fees through batched requests and avoiding expensive cross-chain transactions. Wormhole Queries ensures rapid data retrieval and provides secure and trustworthy data access, secured by Wormhole’s battle-tested Guardians network.

Wormhole Messaging

Wormhole Messaging is a modular, open-source protocol designed for secure, decentralized, cross-chain communication. It allows developers to integrate token bridging and custom cross-chain messaging into their applications. The messaging protocol uses signed Verifiable Action Approvals (VAAs) to ensure message authenticity, secured by a decentralized network of 19 Guardians running full nodes for every connected blockchain. Wormhole Messaging is a powerful tool to accelerate the growth of users and liquidity by connecting chains in a vast multichain network, designed for security and scalability.

MultiChain Applications Powered by Wormhole

Wormhole is not just a developer platform with a comprehensive product suite. Wormhole powers an entire ecosystem of multichain applications that leverage one or more of the products described above. This includes 200+ applications such as bridges, multichain DEXes, aggregators, and lending protocols. 

Some notable applications that are building on Wormhole are:

  • Allbridge Core: Cross-chain stableswap that supports native stablecoin transfers across both EVM and non-EVM chains, enhancing liquidity across different blockchain ecosystems.

  • C3: Self-custodial exchange that offers the benefits of self-custody and decentralization without sacrificing the performance and accessibility users expect from centralized exchanges.

  • Hashflow: Multichain DEX that enables users to trade their assets natively across multiple blockchains, including Ethereum, Arbitrum, Avalanche, BNB Chain, Optimism, Polygon, and Solana. It facilitates seamless multichain trading with improved liquidity and a best-in-class user experience.

  • Jupiter: The primary liquidity aggregator for Solana, offering the widest range of tokens and the best route discovery between any token pair. It ensures efficient and cost-effective token swaps within the Solana ecosystem, supporting a variety of DeFi applications.

  • Mayan: Cross-chain swap auction protocol powered by Wormhole and Solana. It enables users to conduct cross-chain swaps efficiently and securely, leveraging the interoperability and speed of Solana and Wormhole’s robust cross-chain infrastructure.

  • Portal: Developed by xLabs, Portal is a bridge built on Wormhole that offers asset transfers across over 30 chains for tokens and NFTs.

  • Synonym: Next-generation multichain money market powered by Wormhole and Circle’s Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol (CCTP). It enables decentralized borrowing and lending across multiple blockchains, enhancing liquidity and access to decentralized financial services.

  • Threshold Network: The Threshold Network offers a full suite of decentralized threshold cryptography services, including tBTC, a decentralized version of wrapped Bitcoin with seamless multichain transferability, powered by Wormhole.

  • Wombat: Wombat is a decentralized exchange native to BNB Chain that allows for minimal slippage, stablecoin swaps, and single-stake stablecoin yields. It supports efficient trading and liquidity provision within the BNB Chain ecosystem, offering a user-friendly interface.

The W Token and MultiGov

W is a multichain token natively available on Solana, Ethereum, Arbitrum, Optimism, and Base through Wormhole Native Token Transfers (NTT). It powers governance for the Wormhole DAO and is available as both ERC20 and SPL tokens with a maximum supply of 10 billion tokens across all chains.

Wormhole’s MultiGov system will allow the Wormhole DAO to operate across multiple chains. The system supports decentralized and inclusive decision-making, enabling W holders to create, vote on, and execute governance proposals on any supported chain.

It implements a hub-and-spoke model, which combines well-understood building blocks such as governor, timelock, cross-chain token transfers, and cross-chain messaging in a novel framework that aims to keep DAO governance:

  • Active: By meeting community members where they are.

  • Accessible: To all community members and at inclusive gas costs.

  • Decentralized: By enabling token holders to vote on any chain.

  • Flexible: By allowing DAOs to easily expand to new networks.

Wormhole by the Numbers

Wormhole is an industry-leading interoperability solution. As of June 2024, it has facilitated over one billion messages, and the total volume of assets transferred through Wormhole is over $42B, underscoring its robust and active network.

With thousands of messages processed each month, Wormhole demonstrates its vital role as an enabler on the infrastructure level for applications across all verticals.

Closing Thoughts

With a long-standing track record and significant adoption throughout the market, Wormhole continues to mature as a developer platform and as a robust, sustainable ecosystem. The product suite has expanded significantly in 2024, unlocking novel use cases and fostering multichain innovation. Given its strong traction among builders, a pipeline of exciting upgrades, and ongoing network expansion, Wormhole is well-positioned for continued growth and adoption.

The Wormhole ecosystem is a vibrant, fast-growing community of builders and users that is shaping the future of Web3. To learn more about Wormhole, check out the official Wormhole website.