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Polygon launches ‘holy grail’ zkEVM mainnet beta that aims to increase scale and decrease cost of Ethereum transactions

Polygon cofounder Mihailo Bjelic
Polygon cofounder Mihailo Bjelic.
Courtesy of Polygon

With the launch of its zkEVM mainnet beta on Monday, Polygon is bringing to life what’s for years been described as the “holy grail” of blockchain infrastructure, the cofounder of the layer-2 scaling solution told Fortune.

Through the use of zero-knowledge proofs, which allow a user to prove certain statements without revealing the actual data used, Polygon cofounder Mihailo Bjelic said zkEVM will provide massive possibilities for scaling the number of transactions on the blockchain while also incorporating the security and established ecosystem that the Ethereum network has built up over years. 

Ambitiously, Bjelic compared the zkEVM’s forthcoming impact on crypto to the effect OpenAI’s ChatGPT has had on artificial intelligence in recent months.

Building on Ethereum’s execution layer, or EVM, was important for the Polygon team because it’s already the most popular blockchain for decentralized applications.

“If you have a solution that satisfies these two first features, security and scalability, but completely changes user experience, developer experience, you have to build the whole ecosystem from scratch. That’s a humongous task,” Bjelic explained.

The technology is complicated, and as such, Bjelic said the Polygon team originally thought it might take three to five years to finish the project. Through some cryptographic breakthroughs and a lot of passion, especially from technical lead Jordi Baylina, the team finished in just over a year, he said. 

Polygon has partnered with important companies like Starbucks and Instagram in the past, and Bjelic said zkEVM would be a great fit for them and other companies or Web3 organizations. By adopting the zkEVM mainnet beta, users could in some cases pay 10 or 20 times less for the same number of transactions.

Several companies have already committed to using the zkEVM mainnet beta, and on the first day of launch, Bjelic said he expects thousands of users to start using it for dozens of applications.

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, executed the first symbolic transaction via a livestream on Monday, which Bjelic said goes to show just how significant the tech is. Buterin appeared to agree.

Although scaling was always on his mind since the beginning of Ethereum, he said during the livestream, during the last bull run it became clear how expensive it was to use the Ethereum mainnet. This is a problem that zkEVM will help to solve, along with enabling mass scaling for Ethereum, which will help with the onboarding of new users, Buterin said.

“I feel very happy and excited for what’s to come,” Buterin said. “The whole zkEVM thing is something that we’ve all dreamed about and talked about for a long time.”

As for Bjelic, in the face of regulatory uncertainty and investors’ uneasiness tied to problems in the economy and banking sectors, he hopes zkEVM will bring some buzz back to Web3.

“I think there is potential for zkEVM to again reignite this excitement about Web3,” he said, “and I think we really need that now.”

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