Polygon (MATIC) has become synonymous with Ethereum (ETH) scaling. By processing transactions off-chain and batching proofs to Ethereum, Polygon created a high-speed platform for DeFi, NFT, and Web3 projects. However, the growing pains of fragmentation and liquidity issues necessitate Polygon’s next evolution to Web3 infrastructure leader: Polygon 2.0.
Originally launched as Matic Network in 2017, Polygon pioneered layer 2 technology before it went mainstream. Polygon chains essentially serve as side chains that run parallel to Ethereum, allowing vastly greater transaction throughput by handling processing off-chain.
This off-chain processing is enabled by a novel form of cryptography called zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs. ZK proofs allow one party (known as the “prover”) to verify information as true to another party without conveying the underlying information. They are generated through complex computational algorithms that can definitively prove something accurate without ever revealing private details. A useful tool in public blockchains, which are transparent by their nature.
For example, a ZK proof could definitively show a user has enough funds to cover a transaction without revealing their account balance or identity. This enhances privacy and scalability. ZK proofs became integral to Polygon’s functioning, as transactions occur off-chain but validity proofs are routinely batched back to Ethereum to retain the base layer’s security. This initial version of Polygon supercharged Ethereum to enable 100,000+ transactions per second at fractions of a penny in cost.
This off-chain processing and validity proof system led to Polygon handling over one billion transactions to date. However, the existence of multiple Polygon chains (including Polygon PoS and Polygon zkEVM) has resulted in fragmented liquidity and a degraded user experience. Running applications across chains still poses challenges compared to a seamlessly unified environment.
To overcome these hurdles and unlock unlimited scalability, Polygon 2.0 will consolidate all Polygon chains into four integrated layers:
This multi-layered architecture powered by ZK proofs provides security, specialization, and an unlimited capacity to onboard new chains. Polygon also upgraded its native token from MATIC to POL to better align incentives for participation and governance in its evolved ecosystem.
The new version aims to unify all existing Polygon protocols using zero-knowledge technology into a network of ZK-powered sidechains. Developers designed Polygon 2.0 to provide practically unlimited scalability and a unified liquidity layer, allowing users to access the entire network like a single chain.
The upgrades rolled out in phases from mid-June through mid-July 2023, touching on architecture, tokenomics, governance, and more. Ultimately, Polygon 2.0 intends to act as the next evolution that bolsters Polygon’s role as a value layer for Ethereum. In their own words, 2.0 will enable “anyone, anywhere to create, program, and exchange value.”