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zkEVM Mainnet Beta Goes Live – Here's Why it Matters

Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin initiated the first transaction on Polygon's zkEVM rollup

Image: Compare Fibre on Unsplash / Blockhead

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Polygon has launched its zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) beta.

The highly anticipated rollup beta was released to the public on Monday with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin initiating the first transaction.

zkEVM is open source, allowing developers to study and share the code to create more innovations in the zero-knowledge space.

“We want to be extremely aligned to the Web3 ethos,” Sandeep Nailwal, the co-founder of Polygon, said in an interview with CoinDesk. “We want more experimentation.”

“If we can maintain the security of Ethereum, achieve scalability, and do not sacrifice developer and user experience — that’s basically all we need, right?” Polygon co-founder Mihailo Bjelic said in an interview with The Defiant before the launch of Polygon zkEVM.

“And zkEVM is, to the best of my knowledge, the only solution that offers all three things simultaneously.”

Polygon's launch was livestreamed at ETHGlobal at 4:30 p.m. Central European Time. To kick off the launch, Buterin sent 0.005 ETH to a random address with the message: "A few million constraints for man, unconstrained scalability for mankind."

More than 50 companies have already shared that they intend to build with Polgyon zkEVM.

Last week, Matter Labs opened its zkEVM - zkSync Era - to the public.

But what is zkEVM?

zkEVM combines the security and privacy benefits of zero-knowledge proofs with the functionality of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). It enables the creation of smart contracts that can perform complex computations and transactions in a way that is both transparent and private.

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Nicknamed the Holy Grail by Bjelic, zkEVM allows users to verify the correctness of the computations without revealing any of the inputs or intermediate values used in the computation. This can be particularly useful in applications where privacy and confidentiality are important, such as in financial transactions or medical data management.

Why you should care

Polygon's zkEVM is important because it is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that leverages the scaling power of zero-knowledge proofs while maintaining Ethereum compatibility.

This means that it can significantly increase the throughput and transaction finality on the Ethereum network while maintaining the security and decentralization benefits of the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum is notoriously slow, and transaction fees can surge when the network is over congested. According to Polygon, "developers and users on Polygon zkEVM can use the same code, tooling, apps, etc that they use on Ethereum, but with much higher throughput and lower fees."

Furthermore, the use of zero-knowledge proofs makes it a more secure scaling solution than other alternatives.

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zkEVM therefore has the potential to greatly improve the scalability and user experience of the Ethereum network, which is critical for the long-term success and adoption of decentralized applications and smart contracts.

However, the rollup is currently beta form. “It’s a bleeding-edge technology that has never been built before,” Bjelic said. “We will keep auditing it internally and externally. We have bug bounties etc. It’s a process of the network maturing, and it will take some months, if not a year.”

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