Stakely Blog
July 21, 2023

What are Interchain Accounts? Discovering the ICA module

July 21, 2023

Interchain Accounts have arrived at Cosmos! Through the ICA module, users can safely perform actions on another chain, unlocking endless possibilities due to more effective inter-chain communication.

This innovation will help improve user experience and diversify investment options while promoting collaboration among blockchains, guaranteeing communication and interoperability.

We will explain how ICA work, how they differ from other interoperability solutions in the blockchain ecosystem, and how this technology can strengthen security and cooperation among chains. Keep reading to dive into the exciting world of Interchain Accounts!

The importance of Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC)

Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) is a crucial technology in the Cosmos ecosystem, responsible for the secure transfer of data and assets between independent blockchains. IBC is accountable for how data is sent and recognized without imposing a specific structure. It stores the information flowing within the Cosmos ecosystem, compiling the activities of interconnected nodes in its network.

IBC currently underpins over 50 networks in Cosmos, facilitating tens of millions of daily transactions and managing billions of dollars in assets.

ICA is the next step to amplifying interoperability in the Cosmos ecosystem, reinforcing communication between IBC compatible blockchains, and fostering composability in interchain transactions.

What is the origin of Interchain Accounts?

The rise and expansion of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) have marked a turning point in the blockchain ecosystem, revealing the growing need for interoperability solutions.

However, despite the effectiveness of IBC channels, networks within Cosmos remain separate, as each one operates as an independent blockchain.

That's where Interchain Accounts come in, introducing composability and interoperability of smart contracts across different blockchains connected to IBC, without sacrificing the sovereignty of the chains. This could prompt even greater growth in Cosmos applications, thanks to its close relationship with IBC without the need for significant updates.

What are Interchain Accounts?

Interchain Accounts are an implementation of the ICS-27 protocol in Cosmos SDK, allowing cross-chain account management using the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. But what does this really mean? Let's take a closer look at the main components and features of Interchain Accounts.

How Interchain Accounts Work and Their Key Components

The process begins with the registration of an Interchain Account. At this stage, a new controller port ID is generated using the owner's account address.

The controller chain is in charge of registering and controlling an account within the host chain. The controller chain sends packets through IBC to the host chain with the instructions that the Interchain Account must follow. These instructions, received by the relayer, can include a variety of actions such as swaps, delegations, redelegations, or votes.

The host chain, on the other hand, receives the IBC packets and executes the indicated instructions. Each Interchain Account has a respective owner on the controller chain.

Let's look at the components of Interchain Accounts one by one:

  • Host Chain: This is the chain where the Interchain Account is registered. It receives and processes IBC packets from the controller chain, which contain instructions to be executed by the Interchain Account.

  • Controller Chain: This is the chain that controls an account on a host chain, sending IBC packets to manage the account's operations.

  • Relayer: A relayer receives the packet from the controller chain and sends it to the IBC module in the host chain.

  • Packet: This includes messages with instructions that are sent via IBC. These can refer to an exchange, a delegation, or a vote.

  • Interchain Account: This is the representation of an account in the host chain, operating through the ICS-27 protocol. The Interchain Account is responsible for executing the information contained in the packets.

  • Interchain Account Owner: This is an account in the controller chain. Each Interchain Account in a host chain has an owner account in the corresponding controller chain.

Main Features of Interchain Accounts

Interchain Accounts are distinguished by several essential characteristics:

  • Absence of private key: Unlike traditional accounts, Interchain Accounts do not use a private key to sign transactions. Instead, they are programmatically controlled by counterpart chains through IBC packets.

  • Permissionless: They do not require third-party approval to be created. For example, an Interchain Account can be created without going through the governance of the chain.

  • Fault Isolation: A controller chain cannot control the accounts registered by other controller chains. In case of attacks or failures in a controller chain, only the Interchain Accounts that it registered are vulnerable.

  • Transaction Order: The transactions made by an Interchain Account must maintain the order of transactions sent by the controller chain.

  • Solution for channel closure: If a channel closes, the controller chain must be able to regain access to its registered Interchain Accounts by opening a new channel.

  • Exclusive ownership: Each Interchain Account has a single owner in the controller chain. This is the only party authorized to control the Interchain Account, and the controller chain is responsible for enforcing this rule.

  • Limitable functions: Host chains must have the capacity to limit the functions of Interchain Accounts on their chain, if required. For example, they can specify which Interchain Accounts registered on their chain cannot participate in staking.

Advantages of Interchain or ICA Accounts

Interchain Accounts contribute a lot to the interchain space. Let's take a look at some of the advantages of ICA for the Cosmos ecosystem!

  • Unified management: users can manage different tokens from a single blockchain. This represents a considerable saving of time and commission expenses.

  • Reflection on native chains: every action taken on ICA protocols is reflected on the respective native chains. For example, a user could participate in governance for their staking tokens even if their tokens are deposited on the platform of another blockchain.

  • Improved user experience: activities related to Interchain Accounts are as straightforward as those usually done on each separate network.

In summary, Interchain Accounts represent a step forward in improving interoperability between blockchains, allowing for more efficient management of digital assets and opening the door to new possibilities in the DeFi realm.

Zones that have integrated the Interchain Accounts (ICA) module

Several blockchains have already adopted Interchain Accounts (ICA) to enhance their interoperability potential. Each of these chains has its own peculiarities and methods of implementing ICA, expanding possibilities for users and developers.


In Persistence, you can liquid stake ATOM to get sktATOM through pSTAKE. Persistence uses Interchain Accounts in the following way:

In terms of ICA, the Persistence Core-1 chain acts as the controller chain (Controller chain), while Cosmos Hub is the host chain (Host chain).

In this interaction, two Interchain Accounts are involved: a reward account, which is responsible for collecting staking rewards daily, and a delegation account, which delegates the deposited ATOMs to the validators.


Evmos, a blockchain compatible with EVM and the Cosmos SDK, has enabled Interchain Accounts in its V11 update as a cross-chain account management solution. This allows its activation for the Liquid Staking Zones (LSZ).

In fact, the Stride chain has already enabled liquid staking for stEVMOS and Quicksilver is working on launching qEVMOS soon. Evmos also states in its Manifesto that developers will be able to package extensions such as token transfers between networks, ICA, etc., into blockchains like Argus, Canto, and Cronos, with a straightforward command line interface.


This blockchain prides itself on having developed the liquid staking protocol in the Cosmos ecosystem, after having enabled Interchain Accounts. It has an interface that prioritizes simplicity, to enhance the user experience.

Stride has a growing list of tokens in liquid staking: stATOM, stJUNO, stSTARS, stOSMO, stEVMOS, and stLUNA. This multi-chain liquid staking model by Stride, combined with the integration of Interchain Accounts and Interchain Queries, illustrates the possibilities of interoperability and efficiency in the world of blockchains.


Quicksilver, a blockchain focused on liquid staking with the goal of offering DeFi benefits to staking users, has also implemented ICA.

In the Quicksilver protocol, users have the freedom to choose which validator to delegate their tokens, from a list that randomly displays validators. Also, Quicksilver has ensured that protocol users are eligible for airdrops thanks to the advantages of Interchain Accounts, as long as they meet the requirements each network demands.

The contribution of ICA to composability and scalability

Interchain Accounts are increasingly present in various blockchains, as we have seen in the previous examples. The adoption of Interchain Accounts promotes performance, composability, and interoperability, three fundamental characteristics for the development and growth of blockchain ecosystems.

Composability refers to the ability to combine or link protocols and networks, with the aim of creating new services or functions that interact with each other. This concept is central in the DeFi space, as it allows the creation of compound services without the need for permissions or additional costs.

For composability to be possible, interoperability is essential. In blockchain terms, interoperability refers to the ability to allow different and independent protocols, applications, and blockchains to communicate with each other to efficiently share assets or data.

Add to this scalability, the ability to adapt to the growth of demand without affecting performance, and we have the recipe for exponential growth in the blockchain ecosystem.

In conclusion…

The prospect of a future where users do not have to deal with multiple wallets and private keys associated with different accounts on different networks, and can interact with all IBC-enabled applications from a single interface, is incredibly exciting. The advancement that Interchain Accounts and the ultra-speed of IBC highlight the enormous potential and the future that awaits the Cosmos ecosystem.

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Gloria Zulay


The importance of Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC)
What is the origin of Interchain Accounts?
What are Interchain Accounts?
How Interchain Accounts Work and Their Key Components
Main Features of Interchain Accounts
Advantages of Interchain or ICA Accounts
Zones that have integrated the Interchain Accounts (ICA) module
The contribution of ICA to composability and scalability
In conclusion…

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