Polygon Labs Proposes PoS Upgrade to zkEVM Validium

Polygon Labs, the company behind the popular Ethereum sidechain and its native token, Polygon (Matic), has planned big for Polygon 2.0, and upgrading the Polygon PoS chain to a zkEVM validium is one of the major changes coming to Polygon.

On Tuesday, June 20, Polygon Labs announced that its engineering team had proposed a major upgrade to the existing Polygon proof-of-stake (Pos) network to a zkEVM Validium version, “a first-of-its-kind decentralized L2 secured by zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs,” that would make the ecosystem more secure and efficient.

What does zkEVM Validium mean for Polygon PoS Chain?

Last week on June 12, Polygon Labs introduced its Polygon 2.0 plan, a vision for unlimited scalability and unified liquidity powered by ZK technology.

According to the developer:

Polygon 2.0 “is a set of proposed upgrades that radically reimagine almost every aspect of Polygon, from protocol architecture to tokenomics to governance.”

The company describes Polygon 2.0 as:

“Polygon 2.0 is a network of ZK-powered L2 chains, unified via a novel cross-chain coordination protocol. For a user, the entire network will feel like using a single chain. The network can support a practically unlimited number of chains, and cross-chain interactions can happen safely and instantly, without additional security or trust assumptions. Unlimited scalability and unified liquidity.´´

The proposed upgrade of the existing PoS chain to zkEVM validium is the first component of this plan. One might think the upgrade will entirely replace the PoS chain with zero-knowledge (ZK) rollups technology, but that is not the case.

In March 2023, Polygon Labs launched Polygon zkEVM, a second network by the company that uses zero-knowledge proof rollups to scale Ethereum. However, the proposed change will not replace the PoS mechanism of the Polygon. The Polygon Pos chain will be made compatible with zero knowledge (ZK) technology.

What does zkEVM Validium mean for Polygon PoS Chain?

According to the developer:

“Polygon PoS will continue to be the low-cost destination for users, and the implementation of a ZK tech-stack would not require any retooling of smart contracts for developers. Similar to other Polygon PoS upgrades, node operators and validators would only need to upgrade to the latest version of the Polygon PoS client software´´

Unlike Polygon zkEVM, which stores compressed transaction data on Ethereum, validium will store only validation proofs on layer 1, while the actual transaction data will be kept on a separate chain. This tradeoff will allow Polygon PoS to have lower transaction fees, as only validation proofs will be submitted to Ethereum without using block space to store transaction data.

One challenge will be the availability of transaction data outside of Ethereum, but the team believes that its more than 100 validators with nearly $2 billion at stake will be enough to cope with the challenge.

Polygon PoS Validium and Polygon zkEVM will continue to operate as separate chains with the added benefit of both networks using bleeding edge zkEVM technology. If approved, this upgrade could go live by March 2024 on mainnet.

The native MATIC token has risen more than 6% in the last 24 hours. This rise might not be related to the upgrade news, as the overall crypto market surged on June 20.