What Is General Message Passing and How Can It Change Web3?

General Message Passing (GMP) goes beyond cross-chain bridges, revolutionizing blockchain application development and ushering in the Web3 'super app.'

August 29, 2023
August 29, 2023

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Axelar has made seismic waves in the blockchain ecosystem since the release of its General Message Passing (GMP) capability to mainnet in 2022, heralding the next evolution in Web3 application development. Until recently, blockchain infrastructure had limitations in terms of operating cross-chain; the traditional bridging of assets, such as converting ETH from Ethereum to a wrapped (bridged) token on Avalanche, can be cumbersome and risky. Axelar GMP goes beyond traditional bridges, offering an approach to cross-chain communication that is innovative, secure and far more efficient.


Axelar GMP transcends the concept of merely bridging assets by not just linking chains, but enabling computer logic that spans chains in a way that is seamless, flexible and scalable. Among the use cases enabled by General Message Passing are:

  • One-click cross-chain swaps through protocols like Squid.
  • NFTs as collateral across chains.
  • Universal liquidity pooling and lending through Prime Protocol.
  • Creation of interchain synthetic assets.
  • Open gaming.
  • Decentralized governance spanning multiple chains.

These use cases are possible because Axelar is a blockchain that connects blockchains: a programmable interoperability layer, powered by a proof-of-stake token, $AXL. With Axelar GMP, the blockchain landscape is set to undergo a transformative shift as it breaks free from the constraints of single-chain ecosystems and traditional bridges, such as the Base network and bridge, to embark on a new era of interconnectivity.

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General Message Passing, explained


General Message Passing (GMP) empowers developers with the ability to build interchain-native applications that make cross-chain function calls and synchronize state in a way that is completely abstracted for the user. To put it in simpler terms, Axelar GMP empowers developers to compose, akin to using Lego bricks, building applications that integrate functions (smart contracts, for example) hosted on various connected chains. This is not just about combining code; it’s about weaving together pools of liquidity, composing entire networks of internet participants through decentralized applications. These open-source applications are revolutionary, as they not only liberate computer code but also network effects – the aggregate value added by participants. This synergy is paving the way for the creation of a Web3 "Super App."

Imagine building an intricate Lego masterpiece using pieces from various sets, where each block isn’t just a piece of code, but an entire community or network snapped in like a Lego piece, culminating in a Super App. This is the groundbreaking flexibility and synergy that General Message Passing brings to the table. Traditionally, Web3 assets and programs were required to reside in the same environment. Axelar GMP abolishes this requirement, ushering in a revolution in blockchain application development that allows for more efficient computation and opens up new possibilities in how data and programs interact.

Consider owning an NFT on Polygon and desiring to leverage it for a loan in USDC on Arbitrum. The traditional approach would require bridging your NFT from Polygon to Arbitrum, but the lock-and-mint or burn-and-mint approach used by cross-chain bridges won't support the uniqueness and metadata that make each NFT valuable. With Axelar GMP, you can lock the NFT on Polygon and execute a cross-chain function call to the lending protocol on Arbitrum, signaling that the NFT is locked and specifying the key to which the loan should be issued. Instead of bringing the asset to the program, Axelar GMP brings the program to the asset. In doing so, General Message Passing opens the door to a whole new world of composability in DeFi, gaming, NFTs and all types of applications on the decentralized web.

Advantages of General Message Passing

  • Cost-efficiency: Axelar GMP is typically more efficient as it moves function calls and data, rather than minting wrapped assets. That means reduced gas costs for users
  • Minimizing fragmentation: Assets remaining on a single chain facilitates easier tracking of provenance and state.
  • One-Click user experiences: GMP enables folding an entire transaction into a single interaction, providing smooth experiences that support wide adoption.

General Message Passing use cases

  • Cross-chain swaps: Users swap native tokens for native tokens, cross-chain, on a decentralized exchange, with one click. Squid, a cutting-edge liquidity routing protocol built with Axelar GMP, enables cross-chain swaps.
  • NFT + DeFi: Wallets with universal borrow-lend capabilities where, for instance, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Ethereum become cross-chain NFTs, and can be used as collateral in decentralized finance (DeFi) apps on any chain.
  • Universal AMM & lending: An automated market maker (AMM) or lending protocol can pool liquidity and collateral from any asset, on any chain. Prime Protocol uses Axelar GMP to offer a chain-agnostic prime brokerage service, where it can seamlessly accept any asset as collateral, using cross-chain communication to achieve cross-margin functionality that investors demand in traditional markets, but which until now has been absent in DeFi.
  • Interchain Synthetic Assets: Call data from dApps on other chains to index derivatives on the chain that suits your use-case best.
  • Open Gaming: Any asset, on any chain, can be used as currency or credentials.
  • Interchain governance: Decentralized programs by DAOs and guilds that span activity on multiple chains. Axelar and Filecoin integrate to empower DataDAOs to manage data cross-chain in a decentralized manner, allowing DAOs overseeing vital data sets to build applications on any blockchain while seamlessly integrating with Filecoin's premier decentralized storage protocol.

How General Message Passing works

  1. Developers implement the Axelar Executable interface in the destination contract.
  2. Users initiate a call function from the Source Chain.
  3. The call enters the Axelar Gateway from the Source Chain.
  4. Axelar network confirms the call, deducts the usage fee, and prepares an outgoing transaction on the Destination Chain.
  5. The call is approved and emerges from the Axelar Gateway on the Destination Chain.
  6. The call function executes as if it had been made on the Source Chain.

This Gateway-to-Gateway process takes approximately 120 seconds and is secured by proof-of-stake consensus, powered by the $AXL token. Read more about $AXL and the programmability of a blockchain that connects blockchains, here. Developers can read full instructions for building with Axelar GMP in Axelar's technical documentation. Discussion and answers to your questions can be found in the #developers channel in Axelar Discord.

Axelar GMP revolutionizes the blockchain industry by enabling the separation of programs and assets, providing the freedom to choose where each resides. Unlike the traditional constraints in Web3, where assets and logic have to coexist in a single environment, Axelar GMP allows assets to remain in place while synchronizing state across chains to perform computations where it's most efficient and accessible to users. This is akin to traditional computing where, for instance, a database in AWS doesn’t dictate that the program must also run there. With GMP, developers can wield this level of flexibility in the blockchain domain. This innovation paves the way for highly efficient, accessible and dynamic new blockchain applications.

With the continued development and adoption of General Message Passing, we stand on the cusp of a paradigm shift in Web3, where the limitless potential of interconnected chains can be fully realized.

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