What is Polygon (MATIC) and why is it important for Ethereum?
Formerly known as Matic Network, Polygon is a collaboration and scaling platform for building Ethereum-compatible blockchains. It remains centered around the MATIC token, which is used for management, rates and gas fees.
In February 2021, Ethereum’s Tier 2 scaling solution, Matic Network was renamed Polygon, a compatible blockchain scaling platform.
Here we look at what Polygon wants to achieve, and how it differs from blockchain interoperability projects such as Polkadot and Cosmos.
What is Polygon?
Formerly known as the Matic Network, Polygon is a platform for building interconnected blockchain networks.
It aims to address some of Ethereum’s major limitations, including its bandwidth, poor user interface (high transaction speeds and latency) and lack of community management using a new sidechain solution.
Rather than being a simple solution to scale like its predecessor Matic Network, which uses technology known as Plasma to process transactions off-chain before completing them in the Ethereum main chain, Polygon is designed as an entire platform designed to run interoperable blockchains.
With Polygon, developers can run preset blockchain networks with attributes tailored to their needs. They can be further customized with a growing set of modules that allow developers to create sovereign blockchains with more specific functionality.
How does Polygon work?
The Polygon architecture can best be defined as a four-tiered system consisting of an Ethereum layer, a security layer, a Polygon network layer, and an execution layer.
The Ethereum layer is essentially a set of smart contracts that are implemented in Ethereum. These smart contracts manage things like transaction completion, rate allocation, and communication between Ethereum and the various Polygon chains. The security layer works side by side with Ethereum and provides a “validators-as-a-service” role that allows the chains to benefit from an additional layer of security. Both Ethereum and security layers are optional.
Beyond that, there are two mandatory layers. The first is the Polygon networks layer, which is an ecosystem of blockchain networks built on Polygon. Each has its own community and is responsible for processing local consensus and blockchain creation. The second is the execution layer, which is an implementation of Polygon’s Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) used to execute smart contracts.
Chains running on Polygon are able to communicate with each other as well as with the main Ethereum chain thanks to Polygon’s arbitrary messaging capabilities. This will enable many new use cases, such as compatible decentralized applications (dapps) and easy exchange of value between different platforms.
Polygon: The Ethereum Blockchain Internet
Polygon is designed to create a future in which different blockchains no longer function as closed repositories and proprietary communities, but instead as networks that fit into a broader interconnected landscape.
Its long-term goal is to create an open world without borders, in which users can seamlessly interact with decentralized products and services without first having to go through intermediaries. It aims to create a hub to which different blockchains can easily connect, while overcoming some of their individual limitations, such as high fees, poor scalability and limited security.
Polygon uses a variety of technologies to achieve this expanded vision, and they include:
POS Chain: Polygon’s core chain is an Ethereum sidechain known as the POS Matic chain, which adds a layer of proof-of-stake (POS) security to blockchains running on Polygon.
Plasma Chains: Polygon uses a scaling technology known as Plasma to move assets between the root chain and child chains using Plasma bridges.
ZK-rollups: an alternative scaling solution used to combine a large number of off-chain transfers into a single transaction using zero-disclosure proofs for the final public record in the Ethereum main chain.
Optimistic rollups: a solution running on top of Ethereum to facilitate near-instant transactions by using “fraud proof”.
As you may have noticed, Polygon intends to implement more than one scaling solution in line with its goal of minimizing barriers to entry by trying to keep transaction fees to a minimum. By taking a comprehensive approach to the scaling problem, Polygon is hedging its bets if any other scaling solution fails to achieve its goal.
What’s so special about it?
The Polygon project is one of the latest attempts at interoperability and blockchain scaling, and is designed to address some of the perceived limitations of interoperability projects like Polkadot and Cosmos.
First, it is compatible with the Ethereum virtual machine, making it accessible to those accustomed to building applications on Ethereum and programming in Solidity. Its competitor Cosmos uses a WASM-based virtual machine.
Polygon’s shared security model, on the other hand, is completely optional. Sovereign platforms don’t need to sacrifice independence or flexibility for extra security if they don’t need it. He also claims to be flexible enough to include any solution to scale beyond the current Plasma chains.
Many projects have already been launched that use Polygon’s scaling technology.
What is the MATIC token?
Although Polygon has greatly expanded on the concept outlined by Matic Network, it still uses the same service token known as MATIC.
The MATIC token is used for a variety of purposes in the Polygon ecosystem, including participating in network management by voting on proposals to improve Polygon (PIPs), improving security by placing rates, and paying gas fees.
As of March 2021, it has yet to be seen whether the MATIC token will have any additional utility in Polygon’s broader vision.
The race is on to become the first interoperability solution to be fully implemented. The Polygon POS and Plasma scaling solution is already up and running, but developers cannot yet run their own standalone or shared security chains on Polygon until these features are released. Similarly, ZK rollups and Optimistic rollups have not yet been launched on the network, Plasma is currently the only scaling solution available from Polygon.