ZkSync Era Mainnet Release - The Self-Proclaimed End-Game for Ethereum Scaling
It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the season of Ethereum. From the innumerable releases and updates from Layer-2s, as well as the expansive growth of NFT and DeFi volumes, to the big Shanghai Upgrade, the Ethereum community has been buzzing with activity, proving again and again that the blockchain is a force to be reckoned with. One particular development that has caught the attention of many is the zkSync mainnet release in March, which is the first EVM-compatible rollup solution secured by zero-knowledge proofs. This release is expected to unlock a new level of adoption for Ethereum and pave the way for even more exciting developments in the near future.
What is ZkSync Mainnet And How Does It Work?
ZkSync, as the name implies, is a layer-2 that utilizes zk (zero-knowledge) rollups to process transactions on Ethereum. Zk rollup is a scaling solution that uses a type of cryptographic validity proofs called zero-knowledge proofs to bundle many transactions into a single batch and send it to Ethereum for verification of correctness. Funds are held on-chain, while computation and data storage are done off-chain, enabling high throughput yet still maintaining the security of Ethereum.
Another prominent rollup scaling solution for Ethereum is Optimistic rollup. You can find out more about the two types and the comparison here.
More specifically, zkSync implements a specific type of zk rollup named zk-SNARK (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge), which enhances privacy tremendously by allowing users to prove that they know or own something without revealing what that thing is. It is claimed that this type of zk makes transactions significantly cheaper and faster, leading to hyperscalability that can process “an unlimited number of transactions without a marginal impact on security or cost”.
Matter Labs, the team behind zkSync, predicts that zk would be a key component to the mass adoption of blockchain, so they have been developing a zk rollup-based blockchain since 2019. In 2020, they released zkSync Lite (also known as zkSync 1.0) network, which has a TVL exceeding $86 million. Finally, on March 24, 2023, Matter Labs released a separate mainnet, zkSync Era, that has been in development for 4 years, marking the beginning of zkEVM.
ZkSync Era aims to provide freedom, inclusivity, and trustlessness for all participants of the network. It is designed to be fully open-source, forkable, and decentralized. The community is encouraged to hold the core team accountable and steer them towards the goal of freedom.
Pros And Cons of zkSync Era
The new mainnet self-proclaims to be the end-game for Ethereum scaling. Whether that is true, we cannot be sure just yet. However, zkSync Era presents a lot of advantages that no one can deny:
- Privacy: Privacy is the default mode for zkSync. As mentioned earlier, zk-SNARK allows users to prove that they have something without revealing what that thing is, making transactions extremely private.
- Security: zkSync is much more secure than other layer-2 solutions even at lower costs because guardian nodes can be operated from an average consumer hardware, making the network highly decentralized. Even if more than two-thirds of total stake are controlled by one malicious entity, the attacker’s stake will be frozen and they do not get any economic benefits directly from the exploitation. Users can always access their funds in case validators act up and stop working, because data is always available off-chain. Moreover, the bridge to zkSync is built by the Matter Labs team themselves, and it only allows one-day-delayed withdrawals to mitigate bridge exploits. The Era mainnet has also been heavily tested in a year and audited by three big firms, the process of which cost $3.8 million.
- Scalability: zkSync processes data off-chain and only puts them in bulk on-chain for final verification, so transaction speed and gas fee are minimized. This allows for a big increase in how much the system can handle, supposedly up to 100-200 times more than before. Another notable feature of zkSync is that it allows users to have the options to pay for transaction fees in the tokens being transferred, making it considerably more efficient and convenient for both developers and users.
- Increasing demands for ETH: As zkSync does not introduce its own native token like most other layer-2s, it creates an increasing demand for ETH, since robust activities on zkSync drive the activities of the whole Ethereum ecosystem.
While zkSync has many pros, there are also some disadvantages. It is inevitable since the blockchain has just been introduced, and as Matter Labs says “There’s lots and lots more engineering work to do.”
For instance, on April 7, just less than a month after launch, it was reported that a project raised $1.7 million on zkSync, but the funds are stuck in the smart contract due to an error with the transfer function. The zkSync team responded quickly and worked with the said project to find a solution without doing a rollback. According to zkSync’s update tweets, it seems like zkEVM systems are new and more complex than the typical EVM everybody is accustomed to. While it is great that the team took action immediately to resolve the problem, it is unsure whether the increased complexity of zkEVM will pose a significant obstacle to its adoption.
Everything is still too early to come to a solid conclusion. ZkSync is promising but it will need to be more rigorously battle-tested. Other zkEVM solutions like Polygon, Scroll, and Taiko are some of the direct competitors to zkSync. Which one will prevail? Time will be the answer.
If you think zkEVM has a chance to be a key component in the future of blockchain like Matter Labs, Polygon, and various other institutions, you can stay ahead of the curve and join Bitget’s ZK Zone to earn up to $15,000 in rewards.
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Disclaimer: All products and projects listed in this article are not endorsements and are provided for informational purposes only. Qualified professionals should be consulted prior to making financial decisions.
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