Circle Converge22, our inaugural ecosystem conference, produced a whirlwind of announcements related to the USD Coin (USDC) platform and the broader ecosystem. These ranged from exciting new partnerships with Robinhood, Block and others to news about infrastructure we’ve been working on to enhance USDC’s utility for businesses and developers.
Today, we want to focus on the enhancements we announced to the USDC platform. Shortly after launching USDC on Ethereum in 2018, we knew the future would be multi-chain. By late 2020, we had introduced USDC on Algorand and Solana. Last year we launched USDC on Avalanche, Hedera, Stellar and TRON, and earlier this year USDC went live on Flow and became supported in bridged form on Polygon in the Circle Account.
On September 28th, we broke news about specific plans to accelerate our multi-chain strategy throughout the remainder of the year and into 2023. Up first, building off of the success of the recent Ethereum proof-of-stake upgrade, we are thrilled to announce our intent to launch USDC on Arbitrum and Optimism in Q4 2022. These leading “Layer 2” scaling solutions will enable faster, cheaper USDC transactions with the shared security of the Ethereum network. Developers will be able to leverage Circle’s APIs for fiat on-and-off ramps to and from USDC, further boosting the growth and accessibility of the Ethereum ecosystem.
Additionally, we also intend to launch USDC on Polkadot later this year via the Statemint parachain, which is designed for “common good” digital assets. Developers building with USDC on Polkadot will benefit from Polkadot’s shared security model and the ability for USDC to be transacted across its ecosystem of parachains.
Which brings us to 2023. In Q1 of next year, we intend to introduce USDC to Cosmos via a generic asset issuance chain and use Interchain Security, which enables the chain to inherit the security of the Cosmos Hub. USDC will be accessible across the Cosmos ecosystem through the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC protocol), which enables digital asset transfers between approximately 50 blockchains.
Taken together, this is designed to bring USDC availability to 13 blockchain ecosystems where developers will be able to use Circle APIs to build the future of commerce.
Introducing Cross-Chain USDC Transfers
While expanding USDC’s multi-chain availability is key to improving its utility, it doesn’t address the limitation that users experience of each chain existing as a silo. Users need a way to transfer and transact USDC across ecosystems, without needing to convert to a synthetic “bridged” version of USDC, which leads to fragmented liquidity and a complicated user experience. At Converge22, we announced our solution to this problem — our new Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol.
Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol enables the transfer of USDC natively across chains by leveraging a programmatic burn-and-mint process. We believe this will have a profound impact on enhancing USDC’s core principles of trust, ease of use and liquidity. Developers can embed the protocol within their dApps and enable users to move any amount of USDC to any supported ecosystem, all in a permissionless manner at the speed of the internet.
What’s more, Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol is composable. With USDC serving as a universal liquidity layer, developers can build novel cross-chain dApps that stack together the various functionalities of trading, lending, payments, NFTs, gaming and more — all while abstracting complexity away from the user. This is a critical step towards unlocking mainstream experiences and lighting a path for a billion new users to enter the space.
By year-end, we expect Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol to be live on Ethereum and Avalanche mainnet, with more chain activations coming in early 2023.
Interest in Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol is already building, with many industry leaders set to integrate the protocol later this year, including Allbridge, Ava Labs’ Avalanche Bridge and Core Wallet, Axelar, BitGo, LayerZero, LI.FI, Socket and Wormhole.
The USDC platform
Zooming out, we believe our multi-chain expansion and cross-chain capabilities help position USDC as the connective tissue that brings developers, businesses and, merchants together across this new internet of value. Our goal is to make transacting USDC across the ecosystem so easy and commonplace that it’s hard to imagine commerce without it. We’ll push more and more of the operational complexity into the background so that it’s invisible and unnoticed by builders and users alike.
We are incredibly excited about these developments and the continued build-out of our USDC roadmap. Developers can learn more about our multi-chain expansion plans and building with Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol by joining the conversation on Circle’s all-new Discord channel. Stay tuned for additional product recaps from Converge22!