Web3 infrastructure provider Polygon today announced the launch of Polygon zkEVM (zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine), which is said to be the "first" Ethereum-compatible scaling solution that uses the cryptographic method called zero-knowledge proofs.

Previously known as Matic Network, Polygon is an interoperability and scaling protocol for launching Ethereum-compatible blockchains. Its core component is Polygon SDK, a modular, flexible framework that supports building multiple types of decentralized applications (dApps).

Polygon first teased zkEVM at EthCC Paris in July 2021 and says it is designed to work effortlessly with all existing smart contracts, developer tools, and wallets, while also creating less user friction by removing the need for any kind of modification or re-implementation of code.

“The holy grail of Web3 infrastructure should have three major properties: scalability, security, and Ethereum compatibility” Mihailo Bjelic, co-founder of Polygon, said in a statement shared with Decrypt.

Bjelic described zkEVM as “a breakthrough technology that finally achieves that, [...] opening a new chapter of mass adoption,” while noting that “until now, it has not been practically possible to offer all these properties at once.”

Polygon zkEVM's key promises include a significant reduction of current layer-1 Ethereum network costs—about 90%, by the team's estimate—as well as a dramatic increase in throughput capability, all while inheriting the security of the Ethereum blockchain.

“It’s difficult to provide performance comparisons for zkEVM at this stage, but we are working towards increasing [throughput] to approximately 2,000 transactions per second (TPS),” Bjelic told Decrypt.

According to him, “this would be on par with global payments processor Visa, which processes roughly 1,700 transactions per second on average—a benchmark Ethereum will have to match or surpass to become the foundation of Web3.”


Polygon to reduce withdrawal times

Polygon highlighted that zkEVM’s core technology called zk-rollups is capable of offering faster transaction settlements and, thus, improved capital efficiency—a significant advantage over the technology known as Optimistic rollups.

Zk-rollups rely on a piece of cryptography called a zero-knowledge proof, which, as Bjelic explained, provides a "validity proof" that transactions are not fraudulent, while Optimistic rollups require a dispute period within which anyone can challenge the validity of a transaction.

“On average, this results in a seven-day delay for withdrawals when using Optimistic rollups. zkEVM has the potential to reduce this exit period from seven days to potentially just a couple of minutes,” Bjelic told Decrypt.

Speaking of how the scaling solution will work after Ethereum’s upcoming transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) network, the Polygon co-founder noted that while Ethereum fees are unlikely to change substantially even after the merge event, “zkEVM stands to reduce network fees by [the estimated] 90% and even more in future iterations.”

“zkEVM will also serve as a stopgap solution for transaction latency while Ethereum transitions to PoS and will subsequently enable even greater gains in throughput,” added Bjelic.

He added that the roadmap for future versions of zkEVM includes further improvements on throughput, noting that Ethereum currently achieves a maximum throughput of about 30 TPS.

According to the team, zkEVM is expected to be deployed on the public testnet later this summer, with the mainnet launch slated for early 2023.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.