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Version: v28

App Design

In this chapter, you learn how the interchain exchange module is designed. The module has order books, buy orders, and sell orders.

  • First, create an order book for a pair of token.
  • After an order book exists, you can create buy and sell orders for this pair of token.

The module uses the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol IBC. By using IBC, the module can create order books so that multiple blockchains can interact and exchange their token.

You create an order book pair with a token from one blockchain and another token from another blockchain. In this tutorial, call the module you create the dex module.

When a user exchanges a token with the dex module, a voucher of that token is received on the other blockchain. This voucher is similar to how an ibc-transfer is constructed. Since a blockchain module does not have the rights to mint new token of a blockchain into existence, the token on the target chain is locked up, and the buyer receives a voucher of that token.

This process can be reversed when the voucher gets burned to unlock the original token. This exchange process is explained in more detail throughout the tutorial.

Assumption of the Design

An order book can be created for the exchange of any tokens between any pair of chains.

  • Both blockchains require the dex module to be installed and running.
  • There can only be one order book for a pair of token at the same time.

A specific chain cannot mint new coins of its native token.

This module is inspired by the ibc transfer module on the Cosmos SDK. The dex module you create in this tutorial has similarities, like the voucher creation.

However, the new dex module you are creating is more complex because it supports creation of:

  • Several types of packets to send
  • Several types of acknowledgments to treat
  • More complex logic on how to treat a packet on receipt, on timeout, and more

Interchain Exchange Overview

Assume you have two blockchains: Venus and Mars.

  • The native token on Venus is venuscoin.
  • The native token on Mars is marscoin.

When a token is exchanged from Mars to Venus:

  • The Venus blockchain has an IBC voucher token with a denom that looks like ibc/B5CB286...A7B21307F.
  • The long string of characters after ibc/ is a denom trace hash of a token that was transferred using IBC.

Using the blockchain's API you can get a denom trace from that hash. The denom trace consists of a base_denom and a path. In our example:

  • The base_denom is marscoin.
  • The path contains pairs of ports and channels through which the token has been transferred.

For a single-hop transfer, the path is identified by transfer/channel-0.

Learn more about token paths in ICS 20 Fungible Token Transfer.

Note: This token ibc/Venus/marscoin cannot be sold back using the same order book. If you want to "reverse" the exchange and receive the Mars token back, you must create and use a new order book for the ibc/Venus/marscoin to marscoin transfer.

The Design of the Order Books

As a typical exchange, a new pair implies the creation of an order book with orders to sell marscoin or orders to buy venuscoin. Here, you have two chains and this data structure must be split between Mars and Venus.

  • Users from chain Mars sell marscoin.
  • Users from chain Venus buy marscoin.

Therefore, we represent:

  • All orders to sell marscoin on chain Mars.
  • All orders to buy marscoin on chain Venus.

In this example, blockchain Mars holds the sell orders and blockchain Venus holds the buy orders.

Exchanging Tokens Back

Like ibc-transfer, each blockchain keeps a trace of the token voucher that was created on the other blockchain.

If blockchain Mars sells marscoin to chain Venus and ibc/Venus/marscoin is minted on Venus then, if ibc/Venus/marscoin is sold back to Mars, the token is unlocked and the token that is received is marscoin.


The features supported by the interchain exchange module are:

  • Create an exchange order book for a token pair between two chains
  • Send sell orders on source chain
  • Send buy orders on target chain
  • Cancel sell or buy orders