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What Are Cross-Chain Swaps, and Why Would I Want to Do One?
What Are Cross-Chain Swaps, and Why Would I Want to Do One?
Pablo Laboreo avatar
Written by Pablo Laboreo
Updated over a week ago

‘The Blockchain’ is in fact a collection of distinct ecosystems. For example, Polygon, Ethereum, and Avalanche-based applications each run in separate networks and use different types of tokens, or coins. Heard of an interesting blockchain-powered game or application? - check which network it operates on. You might need to get a new currency to use it, and cross-chain swaps are here to help.

What are cross-chain swaps?

Cross-chain swaps are a way to “swap” tokens on different blockchain ecosystems. These swaps exchange a user-chosen amount of one token for the equivalent value of a different token. For example, a common cross-chain swap is exchanging ETH on the Ethereum blockchain for MATIC on the Polygon blockchain. The user chooses the amount of ETH they would like to swap and, after a varying period of time (dependent on the chains being used and the number of transactions at that given time, receives the equivalent amount of MATIC into their wallet on the Polygon blockchain.

Cross-chain swaps vs. Same-chain swaps

As mentioned earlier, cross-chain swaps occur when tokens from two different blockchain ecosystems are exchanged. Alternatively, same-chain swaps occur when two different tokens on the same blockchain are exchanged. An example of a same-chain swap is if a user swaps ETH on the Ethereum blockchain with USDC (also) on the Ethereum blockchain. Since both tokens live on the Ethereum blockchain, this is a same-chain swap.

Why do I want cross-chain swaps?

Sometimes, you might have coins or tokens on one blockchain and need to move them to another blockchain. For example, if you're using OpenSea to buy a Polygon NFT, the sale price might be denominated in Wrapped Ethereum on the Polygon blockchain (note that OpenSea calls this "Polygon ETH", but this is inaccurate). If you only have ETH on Ethereum in your wallet, you might not be able to complete the purchase. But now, you can use Zelus's cross-chain swaps feature to swap some of your ETH on Ethereum for Wrapped Ethereum on Polygon in a simple, fast, and secure way! Then, you can complete your NFT purchase

Initiating a cross-chain swap through the Zelus wallet is the easiest way to exchange tokens on different blockchains. Doing so without cross-chain swapping would entail selling the token you’re wanting to exchange, converting that amount to another currency that an exchange will accept as payment, and finally purchasing your desired token amount. Not only does this process take significantly longer to execute, but it is also much more costly since you incur fees at every step in the process. However, executing a cross-chain swap with your Zelus wallet eliminates this hassle and provides an easy-to-understand summary of your swap so you know exactly how much you will pay in fees.

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