Atomic swaps between the Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR) blockchains could be possible in the near future, perhaps even sometime during 2020, according to blockchain developer Joel Gugger.
Apparently the only thing preventing atomic swaps between Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR) from being launched at this time is the developers do not have an easy way of implementing zero-knowledge proofs, which are required for this technology. A future Monero (XMR) code change could make the effort easier, or with enough hard work and time the developers could figure it out and get it working.
In order to understand the importance of this news, it is important to understand how atomic swaps work. An atomic swap is a direct trade between two parties using the blockchain, without any 3rd party in the middle. Essentially, smart contracts on both the Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR) blockchains would be utilized in order to conduct a trade.
The revolutionary thing about atomic swaps between Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR) is it would make it possible to obtain Monero (XMR) no matter how harsh the regulatory environment is.
Currently most exchanges do not offer Monero (XMR), since it is an anonymity coin and cannot be traced, and therefore cannot comply with current laws. With time more and more exchanges are delisting Monero (XMR) despite its popularity.
That being said, Monero (XMR) is not illegal, and atomic swaps would guarantee that there is always a way for users to obtain Monero (XMR). Essentially, atomic swaps would provide a decentralized way to obtain Monero (XMR), keeping the privacy coin sector alive even if every exchange delists Monero (XMR).