Highlights from Composable’s inaugural Unchained Conference

Composable Foundation
11 min readJul 12, 2022

Disclaimer: Information as of Jul 12. For the most recent updates, dive into our comprehensive documentation here

The first Unchained Conference commenced on July 1st, in Berlin at the iconic Alte Münze. The venue was the site of Berlin’s earliest recorded mint, where many of Germany’s first fiat currencies were developed and coined. It therefore served as a site with symbolic significance for the Unchained Conference, which brought together the greatest minds from Polkadot, Cosmos, Ethereum, and the broader decentralized finance (DeFi) space to chart out interoperability between the financial ecosystems of the future. Here is a recap with top highlights of our inaugural Unchained conference in Berlin.

The Composable Unchained Conference was a success, with over 200 attendees and 5000 virtual viewers who joined across Composable’s YouTube Livestream, Binance live, and the Cryptocito YouTube Livestream. Panelists included DeFi’s brightest minds from over 20 organizations, and spanned founders, senior engineers, researchers, domain experts, academics, and venture capitalists. A cross-ecosystem gathering, Unchained Berlin united leaders from three of the largest DeFi ecosystems: Ethereum, Cosmos, and Polkadot. Representatives of other ecosystems, companies, and funds, such as Parity, Chainflip, D1 Ventures and many more, were also present to discuss the future of DeFi from a cross-chain perspective.

The live demonstration of the XCVM, a watershed moment for DeFi

Composable’s Founder and CEO, 0xBrainjar kicked off the inaugural Unchained Conference with a keynote on the cross-chain virtual machine (XCVM), along with a public live demo. This presentation laid the foundation for the discussions and discoveries of the panels to follow.

The XCVM enables developers to build modularly functional applications through CosmWasm-based cross-chain smart contracts: one smart contract, that executes functions on multiple chains, simultaneously. These smart contracts allow DeFi functions to be executed across ecosystems.

Our Founder & CEO 0xBrainjar begins Unchained with a keynote on the XCVM

Using the XCVM, users can take advantage of DeFi’s multiple chains and layers to maximize value. The XCVM abstracts away the complexity DeFi users face while leveraging its cross-chain environment. With the XCVM, users can thus focus on what they want to accomplish in DeFi, rather than how to achieve it. Hence, developers can now shift paradigms and focus squarely on providing value to users. This improved user experience is synonymous with improved value for users, and as such is a necessary prerequisite for the mass adoption of DeFi.

Unchained Berlin featured speakers from multiple ecosystems that the XCVM interlinks. The XCVM enables DeFi to consolidate siloed ecosystems and overcome the challenge of liquidity fragmentation.

0xc0dejug walks through a live demo of the XCVM

Unchained Berlin, an event that culminated into a bastion of ideas around cross-chain and interoperability

Multiple panel sessions took place during the event, where speakers discussed and debated several salient topics, from cross-chain MEV, institutional adoption of cross-chain applications, and on-chain privacy, to data availability and zero-knowledge (ZK proofs). Speakers also touched on CosmWasm and other smart contract frameworks, Substrate, and the Cosmos SDK, while holding discussions on whether the future of DeFi will be cross-chain or multi-chain.

The Composable team also highlighted multiple features of its technology stack through keynote speeches and in-depth sessions with leading industry experts. This included panels on trustless bridges and their future in DeFi, Composable’s role in interlinking multiple ecosystems, user experience and design principles in Web3, and a look behind Composable Labs, our innovation arm that develops DeFi primitives and provides developer grants.

Here are some panel highlights you don’t want to miss

A multi-chain vs cross-chain future

One of our best received discussions included a panel led by our Head of Product Strategy Marmite Toast, along with our CEO and founder 0xBrainjar, Cosmos Hub lead Billy Rennekamp, and Polkadot co-founder Robert Habermeier, that discussed a multi-chain vs cross-chain future.

To watch the full panel click here.

Our head of product strategy, Marmite Toast, leads the panel on a cross-chain vs multi-chain future of DeFi

Robert Habermeier, co-founder of Polkadot, speaks at the multi-chain vs cross chain future panel

“The key difference between Cosmos and Polkadot-based parachains is that Cosmos is 100% sovereign. With parachains instead you opt into shared security, and get highly secure messaging, security of economies of scale, and other benefits.”

”Polkadot is heading to an app-enabled based approach, where you’re able to make an application without the need for a token for that application.”

Robert Habermeier, co-founder of Polkadot

“We’re all going to share the burden of cross-chain development, and it won’t be easy — but we can get there.”

Billy Rennekamp, Cosmos Hub Lead at Interchain

Cosmos vs Polkadot — or a unification of both??

Both the Cosmos and Polkadot ecosystems are important to the future of DeFi with their own unique value propositions. Our CTO Karel led a panel contrasting the pros and cons of building on both, and explained how what Composable is building will invert the notion that these two ecosystems are forced into zero sum competition.

This panel was entitled “Building w/ Substrate vs Building with the Cosmos SDK”, and featured Composable’s CEO 0xbrainjar, Sunny Aggarwal (founder of Osmosis), Jesse Abramowitz from Parity and Entropy, Mark Baricevic of Interchain.

To watch the full panel click here.

Jesse speaks at the Cosmos vs Polkadot panel

“The most important thing for building a team is finding people who are actually interested in blockchain architecture themselves, and are creative. Those are the people who are actually able to solve problems”

0xBrainjar, CEO of Composable Finance

“Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI++) gives the SDK more opportunities to interact with the consensus engine and is one of the most exciting things coming to Cosmos”

Sunny Aggarwal, founder of Osmosis

“One of the biggest selling points of the Cosmos SDK and tendermint is its robustness over three years.”

Mark Baricevic of Interchain

“One of the advantages of Substrate is actually being sandboxed, and not needing to focus on somethings….while Substrate allows you to go deep in others places”

Jesse Abramowitz from Parity and Entropy

A panel discussion on CosmWasm

Ethan Frey, father of CosmWasm, speaks about Composable Finance at the CosmWasm panel

CryptoCito, founder of the CryptoCito channel, panels a conversation on CosmWasm with Composable’s CTO Karel Kubat, 0xc0dejug, our XCVM lead at Composable, and Ethan Frey, the co-founder of Confio and the father and inventor of CosmWasm.

“Polkadot XCM and Cosmos IBC are building out incredible decentralized relaying, and people are still relying on trusted multi-sig bridges which are massively hacked. This is sad to see, every month another bridge gets hacked! Having centralized bridges is limiting everything, in the next bull market we need [trustless] bridges everywhere.”

Ethan Frey, co-founder of Confio and the father of CosmWasm

On-Chain privacy

Zoe Meckbach, growth leader at the Phala Network, leads a panel after a keynote on privacy by Composable’s cryptography lead Antonio Larriba. Antonio joins the panel, as does Dmitry Zhelezov, CEO of Subsquid, Brandon Kase, Architect Engineer at O(1) Labs and the Mina Protocol, and Luis Gonzales, Senior Offensive Security Engineer at Halborn Security.

“Are ZK roll ups the future, or optimistic roll ups?”

Zoe Meckbach, growth leader the Phala network

“ZK roll ups are the future, but both are great technologies and will co-exist together for different protocols”

Luis Gonzales, senior offensive security engineer at Halborn Security

“The mathematical nature of ZK roll ups give them the edge”

Brandon Kase, Architect Engineer at O(1) Labs and the Mina Protocol

To watch the complete keynote, click here. To watch the full panel click here.

Trustless bridging

During his keynote, Seun Lanlege spoke about Composable’s groundbreaking advances in trustless bridging. Composable’s efforts in this area enable the building of bridges between any two chains with light clients implemented by leveraging the IBC and finality proofs. DeFi currently utilizes trusted bridges that make use of third parties and take custody of assets. Composable envisions a future where trusted bridges with counterparty risks are replaced with trustless alternatives. This will provide a more secure and robust user experience for DeFi as it edges towards mass adoption

This keynote was followed by a panel discussion on the topic with Pepe Blasco, solidity lead at Composable, Susan Evans, IBC lead at Interchain, Anna Carroll, protocol lead at Nomad, and Eli Krenzke, Polychain Researcher.

To watch the complete keynote, click here. To watch the full panel click here.

“The ideal way to bridge these chains is trustlessly…think of light clients as interchain backbones, comparable to the undersea cables that facilitate the internet ‘backbone’ and allow arbitrary data to flow”

Seun Lanlege, Substrate / Rust lead

“Imagine a multi-chain world where there are a thousand parachain. We can’t audit every contract we interact with…malicious smart contracts could exist. We need proofs that smart contracts are behaving the way we want it to behave. Spree is one potential solution that will solve this”

Seun Lanlege, Substrate / Rust lead

“Different blockchains have different consensus algorithms. This is one of the main challenges for wider expansion, integration and use of the IBC.”

Susan Evans, IBC lead at Interchain

Design principles in Web3

Head of Design at Composable, 0xSlenderman, spoke on how Composable rethinks the design process for seamless DeFi. Composable believes, the use of products is shaped by their design, and effective design is required for mass adoption. The Composable technology stack seeks to set a new standard for product experience in Web3. It will introduce novel UX interfaces that redefine how complexity exists in DeFi. Composable’s goal is not to obfuscate complexity such that users do not feel in control of their assets, but to abstract it, so users can control their assets and accomplish their goals. To this end, Composable will use new instruments like steppers to illustrate how assets are being moved, and ensure users understand the risks they are taking on, and where their assets are located.

To watch the full keynote click here.

0xSlenderman presenting Composable’s new design principles for Web3

Composable’s head of design, 0xSlenderman, presents a keynote on the innovations we’ve developed in this space

“Design is not trivial. It will be the translator between the technology and the user in what they want to achieve.”

0xSlenderman, head of design at Composable

“You can have many tools, but they’re all siloed. There has to be a way to merge them [to gain full benefit].”

0xSlenderman, head of design at Composable

Institutional adoption of cross-chain DeFi

The institutional adoption of DeFi is a critical step to its mass adoption, with its unique needs and requirements. In particular, institutional investors with large sums of money can take advantage of cross-chain DeFi possibilities such as arbitrage and MEV. Our head of growth, Ahmed, led a panel discussion on whether this is possible and how XCVM’s modular infrastructure can facilitate it. This important conversation included Tamara Frankel (founding partner at D1 Ventures), Maciej Ba (founder and CTO at t​​3rn), Saurabh Sharma, (head of investments at Jump Crypto), Julien Bouteloup (founder of Stake Capital).

To watch the full panel click here.

“What is paramount to the institutional adoption of DeFi? Security, cross-chain settlement, cross-chain margining, and cross-chain collateralization”

Saurabh Sharma, head of investments at Jump Crypto

“Decentralization will actually improve analytics and allow the ability to better assess risk”

Tamara Frankel — founder partner at D1 Ventures

The cross-chain future of MEV

Our very own Composable Intern (@ComposableIntrn) led one of our most interesting and forward-looking discussion panels, exploring how the role of MEV will change in the future in a cross-chain context. Rather than viewing MEV negatively, many are looking at it as an opportunity to create more efficient markets, where significant yields can be earned.

This panel featured Christopher Goes, Heliaxdev co-founder, Simon Harman, CEO of Chainflip, Drake Justin, researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, and Composable’s own 0xBobafetador.

To watch the full panel click here.

“Cross-chain MEV is not a security problem, but a concurrency problem…MEV exists only when there is some variability in what the final result will be and there has been a commitment to take some action. You have already made your decisions, but those who conduct MEV have that information and have yet to make theirs.”

Christopher Goes, Heliaxdev co-founder

“In my mind there are two kinds of MEV, the smooth and continuous one, where it is good to have shared synchronous security. The other kind is more spikey, and without shared security you can extract all the value from the ecosystem by attacking bridges. It is therefore important to have shared security.”

Justin Drake, researcher at the Ethereum Foundation

“One of the major items in the future is cross-chain MEV; I think there’ll be a huge opportunity for relayers to extract value. This is a space that is not well enough understood or explored, but it will be massive.”

0xBrainjar, CEO of Composable Finance

Data availability in various execution environments

Our CEO 0xbrainjar led a panel on data availability in different execution environments with Seun Lanlege, our Bridging Lead, Ismail Khoffi, co-founder of Celestia, and 0xshake, co-founder of Polymer.

“I’d love to see a sequencer with Substrate, a pallet that dumps your application blocks onto Celestia. It might even be a weekend project. Build that!”

Ismail Khoffi, co-founder of Celestia

“Controversial question, a tough one to end off on. Will applications become their own roll ups?”

0xbrainjar, CEO of Composable


Seun Lanlege, Ismail Khoffi, 0xshake

Unchained makes the case for a different vision for DeFi’s future

A networking session and a late-night party concluded the Composable Unchained Conference. Guests took part in casual discourse about the future of DeFi and our day’s discussions.

Our CEO 0xBrainjar followed the Unchained Conference by unveiling a new vision for Composable that laid out our aims and goals for the XCVM. Our vision is to compose DeFi for mass adoption by building modularly functional cross-chain infrastructure that abstracts complexity and enables users to focus directly on value.

Given the activity and attention the XCVM has received in wake of the Unchained conference, we have also decided to open the Unchained hackathon to a wider audience and extend the deadline to August 1st. Interested contributors have the opportunity to develop novel technology that leverages Composable’s multi-chain smart contracts, and win up to $10,000 in prizes.

Composable emerged as a solution to the problems in the DeFi space. The complexity that gives DeFi its value must be effectively abstracted to enable mass user adoption. As discussed at the Unchained conference in-depth, Composable, through innovation and technology advancement, aims to compose DeFi for mass adoption.

Frontline Composers!

Our sincere thanks to all of our panelists, speakers and attendees. Unchained Berlin benefited enormously from the sophistication and depth of its attendees, spanning major companies, innovation hubs, and leading funds in the DeFi sector. We look forward to nurturing the amazing relationships and support ignited during Unchained as we continue our push for mass adoption of DeFi.