Announcing USDC on Noble

We are excited to announce that Noble will be an issuance platform for native USDC in the Cosmos and boundless Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) ecosystem!

The IBC ecosystem has never had a native, fiat-backed stablecoin that is highly liquid and fully collateralized. That is about to change with Noble’s first issuance partner, Circle, a US-regulated fintech bringing USDC natively to Cosmos. For the first time in Cosmos history, 50+ IBC-enabled blockchains (and counting!) will soon be able to access USDC that has been natively issued on Noble - an integration leveraging IBC that is simple, safe and seamless.

This integration will catalyze hundreds of millions of dollars in liquidity over the coming months in Cosmos, and will seek to rectify the challenges that users and appchains face when interacting with bridged assets sourced from other ecosystems. In the future, we believe that hundreds of highly liquid, well-adopted Cosmos blockchains will exist. Every blockchain needs a canonical and fungible version of USDC, and Noble exists to fulfill this critical need.

Yet, native USDC issuance is just the beginning for Noble. In the future, we see Noble as the gateway for all digital assets coming into the IBC ecosystem. These assets can include stablecoins and any other on-chain digital representation of real-world value. Stay tuned for more updates in this regard! But first, some history on native USDC, and details on what we’re building.

Noble’s History

We’ve been operating in stealth mode since last year, as a collaborative effort between Informal Systems, Strangelove Labs, and Iqlusion. After Terra’s collapse in May 2022, the need for a large, trusted stablecoin in the IBC ecosystem became clear. Combined with dYdX’s announcement that they were building their own IBC-enabled appchain, it became a downright urgent deliverable for the entire Cosmos community. Enter the team at Circle, which has mobilized a talented group of people and devoted substantial resources to seeing native USDC issuance in the IBC ecosystem.

In typical Cosmos fashion, a committed and passionate group of individuals across a number of independent organizations, namely Jelena, Zaki, Jack and the Strangelove engineering team, came together to start making Noble a reality. Throughout Noble’s entire lifecycle, Strangelove has acted as the key engineering partner for the Noble project: developing the platform, specifying asset integrations, and continuously testing the software to ensure stability and reliability.

As an independent entity, Noble will continue to maintain a working relationship with the Strangelove team on ongoing development, maintenance, and testing. At the same time, we will be building up a technical team in house to develop Noble long-term. For current open positions, visit our careers page.

Noble’s Vision

So, what is Noble? Our goals are simple:

Simple, Effective, Best-in-Class UX

Cosmos and the IBC ecosystem offer amazing flexibility but chain sovereignty has its drawbacks. For starters, there’s no obvious platform on which to issue tokens backed by real-world assets. This means that on-chain representations of digital assets lack fungibility, as described more fully below. Noble aims to solve this.

Chain sovereignty also brings significant UX challenges that aren’t present in monolithic blockchain architectures. This can mean material switching costs and friction for users. Noble aims to solve this in the case of USDC by providing a single canonical token with deep liquidity that can be used in a variety of applications.

As an illustration (h/t to @NumiaData for the data), there are over 100 bridged (i.e. non-native) versions of USDC within the IBC ecosystem! Why? For one, assets that travel over different third-party bridges (e.g., from Ethereum to Cosmos) are not fungible. But for another, even within the Cosmos ecosystem, IBC routing can affect fungibility too. For example, if you sent Noble USDC to Osmosis, you could then use IBC to send it to dYdX, but it would be a completely different asset than Noble USDC sent directly to dYdX since the asset’s path is different (i.e., to preserve fungibility you need to send USDC on Osmosis to dYdX via Noble).

Bridges present unique challenges in the sovereign appchain context.
Bridges present unique challenges in the sovereign appchain context.

We have developed a powerful packet-forwarding middleware application to streamline UX for Noble transfers which makes a double-hop IBC transaction “one click” for the user. This means that the end user only needs to initiate a transfer from the source chain, and the asset will take the proper route to the destination chain automatically. In this regard, Noble behaves like the financial plumbing in the background.

Noble’s mission is to simplify asset ownership and transfer within the IBC ecosystem. We aim to bring the smooth UX of monolithic chains within the structure of a sovereign chain ecosystem. USDC is the first asset, and we envision many more.

Safe, simple, and seamless. 

Turnkey Institutional-Grade Asset Issuance

We aim to be the premier onboarding and integration solution for asset issuers.

Noble leverages SDK modules such as TokenFactory, built by the Osmosis team, to support asset issuers with their native integrations and builds reliable issuance and distribution channels for IBC-connected appchains and users alike. We are able to customize a wide array of functionality that an issuer requires, whether it’s for reasons of regulatory compliance or specific to a protocol.

The packet-forwarding middleware solution once again allows issuers to list their assets, knowing that users of any appchain will be able to seamlessly transfer those assets between appchains via IBC. IBC has been architected to accommodate multi-hop transactions without new appchains needing to maintain a large amount of infrastructure (e.g., archive nodes and relayers for each counterparty chain) to connect to other appchains in the IBC ecosystem.

Safe, simple, and seamless.

Safe: Lead Market Adoption of IBC

Simply put, Noble is long the IBC and Cosmos appchain thesis.

The dYdX migration, expected to occur in Q3 this year, is a tip of the iceberg moment, in our view. Don’t get us wrong, we love Ethereum and the network effect it has created around smart contracts and the EVM. We stand on the shoulders of giants. But a “one size fits all” doesn’t work for everyone. And developers are starting to see the high degree of customization and flexibility brought by appchains and permissionless interoperability.

As a universal interoperability protocol, IBC guarantees reliable, ordered and authenticated communication. While IBC allows for any type of message passing, Noble will be optimizing for token transfers, as assets are issued on Noble and are routed to any IBC-connected blockchain.

Importantly, IBC is fundamentally different from bridging technologies such as Gravity, Wormhole, and Axelar which all require a validator set to sit between chains and verify the authenticity of these messages. These bridges have disparate trust assumptions that are difficult to reason about. At Noble, our fundamental belief is that cross-chain communication will converge on IBC as the standardized, open source, interoperable communications framework. As a result of that thesis, Noble is purpose-built for IBC.

While IBC is mainly confined to the Cosmos ecosystem, a number of teams are working towards extending IBC to non-Cosmos chains including Polymer and Composable Finance.

In the near future, we expect to see an explosion of IBC activity.

Looking Ahead

Stay tuned for further announcements on asset integrations, including the official launch date for USDC on Noble!

If you are interested in issuing on Noble, get in touch with the team at :)

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