XCLAIM: Trustless, Interoperable Cryptocurrency-Backed Assets



We would like to introduce XCLAIM - a protocol for trustless cross-chain communication via cryptocurrency-backed assets.

XCLAIM is described in the following academic research paper:

We provide a short summary below (also available on website w. figures: https://xclaim.io).

XCLAIM is a framework for achieving trustless and efficient cross-chain exchanges using cryptocurrency-backed assets (CbAs). That is, it allows to create assets which are 1:1 backed by existing cryptocurrencies, without requiring trust in a central operator. While this approach is applicable to a wide range of cryptocurrencies, we currently focus on implementing Bitcoin-backed tokens on Ethereum, i.e. XCLAIM(BTC,ETH).

We use b to refer to the backing coin (BTC) and B to the backing blockchain (Bitcoin). Analogous for the issuing blockchain (Ethereum/ETH): i and I. Assets on I backed by units of b are denoted as i(b).

Please refer to the paper for detailed and more formal definitions and protocol descriptions.

The main actors in XCLAIM are as follows (not all listed for simplicity):

  • Requester: Locks b on B to request i(b) on I.

  • Redeemer: Destroys i(b) on I to request the corresponding amount of b on B

  • Backing Vault (vault): Non-trusted and collateralized intermediary liable for fulfilling redeem requests of i(b) for b on B.

  • Issuing Smart Contract (iSC): Smart contract on I managing correct issuing and exchange of i(b). The iSC enforces correct behavior of the vault.

XCLAIM introduces four protocols. Issue and Redeem as specifically of interest, while Transfer and Swap are trivial. Note: upper / lower bounds for delays introduced in XCLAIM are provided in the paper, based on Kiayias et al. Backbone model[1]. Adversaries are assumed to be economically rational.


  • The iSC is deployed on I and defines an over-collateralization rate (> 0) for vaults and provides an exchange rate (>= 1.0) (for now, we assume an oracle. Improved oracles are WIP).
  • Vault registers with the iSC by locking up collateral, as defined by the over-collateralization and exchange rates. The amount of locked up collateral defines how many i(b) can be issued with this vault.


  1. Requester commits to issuing by locking up a small amount of collateral i with the iSC and specifies address (def. by pub.key) on I where the i(b) are to be issued to. The iSC blocks the corresponding amount of collateral of the vault for pre-defined delay(i.e., the vault cannot withdraw the blocked collateral until timeout expires).
  2. Requester sends b to vault on B.
  3. Requester submits a TX inclusion proof to the iSC (via a chain relay).
  4. iSC issues i(b) to the requester.

It is easy to see that Issue is non-interactive. As long as a vault is registered with collateral in the iSC, any user can lock b and issue i(b). No permission by the vault is required(!) Replay protection and counterfeit prevention is discussed in Sec. VII of the paper.


  1. Redeemer locks i(b) with the iSC and specifies his address (def. by pub. key) ob B
  2. iSC emits event signalling that the vault must send b to the redeemer on B such that |b| == |i(b)|, within some pre-defined delay.
  3. Vault sends b to redeemer on B
  4. Vault submits TX inclusion proof to iSC, showing that the redeem was executed correctly
  5. iSC unblocks the vault’s collateral on I and destroys the locked i(b)

If the vault fails to provide a proof, the iSC reimburses the requester in i (exchange rate + penalty from over-collateralization).

XCLAIM uses a multi-stage over-collateralization scheme and allows users to opt-in for automatic liquidation, should the collateralization rate of a vault drop below a certain threshold (e.g. 1.05). Note: coll. rate <1.0 results in the vault being incentivized to misbehave, as the revenue gained from stealing locked b exceeds the penalty incurred in i).

The operation of the automatic liquidation depends on the implementation of the oracle (can be oracle triggered or, more likely, users/watchtowers must submit a transaction to the iSC to trigger).

As such, XCLAIM ensures (Value) Redeemability: a user who owns i(b) is guaranteed to receive the corresponding amount of b or be reimbursed with the equiv. economic valut in i .

Finally, XCLAIM allows any user to become a vault by locking up collateral with the iSC. This allows the system to scale and makes it resilient against DoS / censorship attacks.

XCLAIM is still a first PoC and there remain many challenges to be solved. First implementation evaluations are provided in the paper. We also provide some PoC code (incl. a WIP BTCRelay implementation in Solidity): https://github.com/crossclaim/.

We look forward to receive feedback and suggestions for future work from the Ethereum Community.

PS: We use the “sharding” tag, since cross-chain communication as designed in XCLAIM can also apply to sharding - the principles are very similar. Feel free to correct/suggest better tags :slight_smile:
PPS: XCLAIM will be presented at EthCC and EDCON, in case you’d like to have a chat in person. There’s also a video of a previous protocol version presented at ScalingBitcoin’18 :slight_smile:

[1] Garay, Juan, Aggelos Kiayias, and Nikos Leonardos. "The bitcoin backbone protocol: Analysis and applications." Annual International Conference on the Theory and Applications of Cryptographic Techniques. 2015.