zkSync Crypto has officially announced its mainnet release on March 24, 2023. It is a Layer 2 solution that received a substantial investment of up to 458 million USD from various funds. Many users are eagerly anticipating the next large-scale airdrop following Arbitrum. Take a closer look at the details and standout features of zkSync Era in our informative article.
What is zkSync Crypto Blockchain?
The zkSync protocol is a reliable layer 2 solution that facilitates low-cost payment transactions, accelerates transaction processing, and enables scalability and privacy for Ethereum through the utilization of Zero Knowledge (ZK) Rollup technology.
Matter Labs has developed a user-centric platform with a primary focus on security, user experience, and developer experience. The platform aims to place the user at the center of operations. Currently, Matter Labs’ primary focus is on the development of zkSync 2.0, which has two primary objectives
- This technical capability facilitates the implementation of customized smart contracts using either Solidity or Zinc, thereby providing comprehensive support.
- Significant enhancement has been achieved in the processing ability via zkPorter, a combination of zkRollups and sharding protocol, resulting in a transaction per second (TPS) of over 20,000 and beyond.
Matter Labs aims to establish zkSync as the primary payment backbone of Ethereum, fostering seamless integration among users, wallets, services, dapps, and exchanges.
The operative mechanism of ZkSync
In order to comprehend the operational mechanism of ZkSync, users must possess a basic understanding of the concept of Rollups.
- Rollups are a utility designed to enhance the scalability of Ethereum. Essentially, Rollups allow for the aggregation of a significant number of transactions into a single block, which is then subsequently sent to Ethereum. To put it another way, each Rollup block sent to Ethereum serves as a concise summary of numerous transactions.
- Similarly, ZK Rollup is a type of Rollup that utilizes Zero Knowledge proofs to validate the accuracy and legitimacy of transactions included in blocks and sent to the Ethereum network.
- After that, the smart contract on Ethereum layer 1 only needs to verify the evidence without re-executing all transactions. This results in significant cost savings on gas fees as verifying the Proof is much cheaper than redoing the calculations. Additionally, this approach offers efficiency gains while maintaining a high level of security.
The zkSync is Matter Labs’ inaugural product that relies on the Zk Rollups architecture, acting as a Layer 2 solution for Ethereum. In zkSync, funds are stored on the on-chain smart contract network, while the calculation and data storage processes are executed off-chain.
In the case of Rollup blockchains, a zero-knowledge proof system known as SNARK will be employed to verify the validity of each Block on the main chain. Therefore, zk-SNARKs refer to the specific mechanism used to conduct Zero-Knowledge Validation, which enables secure and private data transfers.
The products of Matter Labs
Throughout its development journey, Matter Labs, a leading developer of zkSync, has launched several products and steadily grown over time. These products include:
The product, originally named ZkSync 1.0, was launched in June 2020. At the time of release, ZkSync 1.0 served as a basic payment method without the integration of smart contracts. However, in May 2021, a new version (v1.x) of ZkSync was introduced which included additional features such as NFT and swap functionality.
The version zkSync 2.0 was renamed and initially launched with new features such as Account Abstraction and support for EVM which includes Solidity and Vyper. It now has the ability to integrate with smart contracts, bolstered by its own programming language, Zinc, along with zkPorter. Further details on the zkSync Era will be discussed below.
As part of the zkSync 2.0 protocol, which incorporates zkRollup with on-chain data availability and zkPorter with off-chain data availability, Matter Labs has developed a supplementary product that enhances the network’s transactions per second (TPS).
In summary, Matter Labs has progressed from the development of zkSync 1.0 to zkSync 2.0 and subsequently renamed these versions as zkSync Lite and ZkSync Era, respectively. This denotes their continued efforts in refining their zero-knowledge proofs technology and optimizing it to better cater to the needs of the market.
Detailed information on the ZkSync Era
Upon renaming to zkSync Era, the team has emphasized the adoption of zkEVM technology to enhance compatibility with EVM smart contracts. Mater Labs’ team has conducted over a year of research on applying zkEVM on the test network and has officially implemented it on the main network since October 2022. Additionally, the team underwent multiple audits in the process.
It should be noted that zkEVM technology is a product of partial development based on Zero-Knowledge Proof, which is divided into four different types based on their compatibility level with EVM. It is important to mention that types 1 to 4 exhibit a decreasing degree of compatibility with EVM.
Currently, the zkSync Era is categorized as a fourth type of zkEVM, which signifies it is nearly compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). However, it is important to note that zkEVM type 4 will only be equivalent to higher-level programming languages and not the EVM itself
Projects that have registered to participate in ZkSync’s ecosystem are now able to launch their dApps on the permissionless ZkSync Era mainnet. In addition to being licensed under the MIT/Apache 2.0 license, ZkSync Era will be fully open-source and will recognize contributions from the community.
Up to now, ZkSync has successfully completed a year-long testing phase, during which 8.8 million transactions were conducted on the Testnet platform. Additionally, the development team has invested 3.8 million USD towards various security-enhancing activities, including audits and bug bounties, for the layer 2 architecture. This underscores the company’s commitment to ensuring the utmost security possible for users of their platform.
The salient features of zkSync Era
Different from Optimistic Rollups
Projects utilizing Optimistic Rollups such as Arbitrum and Optimism, as well as those implementing Zk Rollups, such as zkSync and Starkware, are all leading open solutions for the Ethereum network. Nonetheless, the zkSync team asserts that ZK Rollup possesses advantages beyond those of Optimistic Rollup, such as:
- The verification time for transactions in ZK Rollups is shorter than that of Optimistic, as there is no need to wait for seven days for the accuracy of the transaction to be verified.
- The effectiveness of capital: On ZK Rollup, asset deposits and withdrawals face no delays of seven days, unlike Optimistic Rollup. This leads to an improved capital utilization efficiency.
Account Abstraction (AA) feature
The concept of Account Abstraction enables the transformation of individual accounts into unique smart contracts with their own logical framework. This is achieved by converting Externally Owned Accounts (EOAs) into Smart Contract Accounts (SCAs), effectively converting independent accounts into smart contracts capable of executing code autonomously.
The zkSync feature possesses certain advantageous qualities, which are as follows:
- To avoid the risk of losing or having one’s wallet hacked, it is not necessary to have a Seed phrase. Instead, users can opt for biometric authentication or verification through trusted individuals such as family or friends, courtesy of AA.
- The feature of paying fees with any token is available through the Paymasters account, which supports transactional exchanges between different wallets and converts other tokens into ETH for automatic fee payment.
- Facilitating multiple transactions at once: Enables users to group transactions together for simultaneous signing, eliminating the need for time-consuming processing of individual transactions.
- The automatic payment feature enables users to schedule automated money transfers and renew registration fees in a decentralized manner. This feature is known as AA.
In early 2021, a novel ZK-Rollup technology known as zkEVM emerged, boasting a high degree of compatibility with EVM.
The programming languages of ZK are still subject to some limitations, and one of the significant impediments is the lack of consistency among these programming languages, posing difficulties to developers when programming across different languages.
The presence of inconsistencies in the code and the difficulty of moving DApps between layer 1 and 2 make it challenging to build DApps. Overall, traditional zk-Rollup is relatively difficult to implement and has certain limitations in terms of functionality.
Thanks to the standardization of programming methods in zkEVM, the composability of layer 2 will be significantly enhanced, enabling Ethereum DApps to migrate seamlessly to the zk-Rollup chain with minimal modifications to their existing source code.
What is the token of zkSync?
At the time of writing this article in March 2023, zkSync had not yet launched its token. However, Matter Labs has revealed plans to release the token within a year after the mainnet launch. This presents an opportunity for early adopters to support and utilize the various products and projects in the ZkSync Era ecosystem, with the possibility of receiving an Airdrop, similar to what Arbitrum and Optimism have done in the past.
Roadmaps & updates
The development journey of ZkSync commenced during the summer of 2020, after Matter Labs, the company responsible for ZkSync, began researching Layer 2 Zero Knowledge Proofs in 2019. This indicates the company’s dedication to exploring innovative solutions to improve the scalability and security of blockchain technology.
The aforementioned routes are segmented into distinct phases, as follows:
- Phase 1: Development of zkSync 1.0. Now renamed to zkSync Lite
- Phase 2: Development of zkSync 2.0 which is a combination of zkSync 1.0 and zk-Porter
- Phase 3 (zkSync Era): Renamed ZkSync Era, adopted zkEVM and made the project open source. This is also the current stage of ZkSync.
- Phase 4: The primary focus of zkSync is on decentralization and anti-censorship. This means that the network aims to be decentralized and unregulated entirely by removing Matter Labs’ control and empowering the community with greater authority.
More specifically, with regards to the development roadmap of zkSync:
- December 2019: Master Labs first introduced zkSync to the community with the vision of developing Zk-Rollup on Ethereum.
- June 2020: zkSync v1 officially enters mainnet.
- May 2021: zkSync released an upgrade (v1.x) with NFT and swap functionality.
- June 2021: Introducing zkSync 2.0 with a vision towards zkEVM.
- February 2022: zkSync 2.0 Testnet.
- February 2023: Matter Labs announces the renaming of zkSync 2.0 to zkSync Era.
- March 2023: ZkSync Era officially launches the official network and welcomes users.
At present, zkSync Era has been launched on the mainnet as of March 24, 2023. In this regard, we would like to highlight some significant updates that are currently available
- As the zkSync Era has recently launched its mainnet, there are currently no officially launched projects. The majority of projects are still in the zkSync 1.0 phase.
- The number of active projects in zkSync 1.0 is currently quite limited, with the majority of endeavors being in the ideation or testnet stages.
- Within this ecosystem, current users have the capability to transfer funds as a means of experiencing various decentralized applications.
- The majority of projects within the cryptocurrency ecosystem currently focus on digital wallets and infrastructure, with relatively limited development in areas such as Defi and NFTs.
Project development team
Matter Labs was founded by 2 members: Alexandr Vlasov and Alex Gluchowski.
With 19 years of experience as a software engineer, Alex Gluchowski has served as the Chief Technology Officer for several technology companies, including one that focused on Ethereum R&D, before directing his passion towards zkSync.
The majority of the team at Matter Labs is located in Europe, with their principal headquarters situated in Berlin.
Investors & Partners
Investors and funding rounds
Over three funding rounds, ZkSync has raised a total of more than 458 million USD, with the following breakdown:
- Series A (March 2021): Received $6 million from Binance, Coinbase Ventures, Balancer, Aave, Curve…
- Series B (November 2021): Received $50 million from a16z, Blockchain.com, Crypto.com, Bybit, Consensys, OKEx, Covalent…
- January 2022: Matter Labs approved a $200M investment from BitDAO to build the zkSync ecosystem.
- Series C (November 2022): Received $200 million led by Blockchain Capital and Dragonfly, along with other investors such as Light Speed Venture Partners, Variant, A16z…
One notable aspect of the project is its investment by a multitude of major CEX platforms such as Binance, Coinbase, Huobi, and Bybit, as well as prominent players in the DeFi industry such as Curve, Aave, and Balancer. This is expected to expedite the integration of zkSync onto both centralized and decentralized exchanges, as well as DeFi applications.
As zkSync operates as a layer 2 solution, it has established a plethora of partners across various domains within the blockchain market. The partners are spread across several areas and sectors, indicative of the extensive nature of collaborations facilitated by the platform.
- CEX exchange: Bybit, Huobi,…
- Project: Curve, 1inch, Hop Protocol, Aave…
- Investment fund: Mirana Venture, a16z, Dragonfly…
- Infrastructure: Chainlink, Arkn, Gitcoin, Unstoppable Domain…
These projects have mostly already established connections with zkSync Era prior to the mainnet launch, and there is a high likelihood that they will further expand into this ecosystem post-launch.
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