Polygon’s acquisition of Hermez is the first complete merger of two blockchain networks, and because both are layer-2 rollups, like DeversiFi, it’s a particularly intriguing deal for us.
But this isn’t just a historic piece of M&A. It also represents a vital moment in the evolution of Polygon, one of the biggest and most influential names in our space right now.
Polygon has played a massive role in bringing Ethereum to the masses. By providing a low-cost framework to build and connect Ethereum-compatible blockchains on layer 2, this ambitious project has removed barriers to entry for both traders and developers. Four years on from its launch (as MATIC), the Polygon sidechain allows users to do everything from swapping tokens to playing games, at a fraction of the cost demanded on layer 1.
However, by Polygon’s own admission, their main priority up until now has been speed, rather than security. This means that, while their UX is great, they are still verifying transactions using proof-of-stake (PoS), a consensus algorithm which relies on a core of token-holders to validate transactions.
PoS has various advantages, but it does pose potential issues. By relying on a committee, rather than the entire community, it faces an increased risk of hacking and DDoS attacks1. What’s more, stolen tokens can keep growing, and thus acquiring more power, so a malicious actor can accumulate more and more control2.
Now, however, Polygon has acquired Hermez, an L2 rollup that provides scalability solutions using zero-knowledge proofing (ZK) security, the same security method used by DeversiFi.
For those who don’t know, ZK challenges users to prove the validity of their transactions by revealing certain details3, but without disclosing passwords or other key information (hence the ‘zero-knowledge’ reference). It’s a bit like asking someone to provide a piece of trivia to demonstrate that they know a particular secret, or attended a specific event; you’re not asking them to reveal the core details, simply a tiny morsel of information that only a person ‘in the know’ would possess.
In practice, this system offers several distinct security advantages. It allows transactions to remain anonymous and even if there is a security breach, the risks are significantly reduced. All the hacker will find out is that the other party knows a particular piece of information.
So, as well as offering great UI, Polygon will now offer amazing security to its growing community. This is awesome news for us at DeversiFi; we’ve built a bridge to Polygon, allowing our users to make instant deposits and withdrawals between the two. When they trade and swap on Polygon, our users will benefit from the same best-in-class security standards that they enjoy on our own network.
And there’s an even bigger reason for excitement here, one which may have slipped some observers by.
Hermez is actually one of three different ZK startups acquired by Polygon over the last few months, and all three of them have subtly different methodologies. Why is this so great, you ask? Well because it signals Polygon’s commitment to building a multi-solution scaling ecosystem.
Rather than simply picking one ZK solution, Polygon has picked three, and will allow developers to choose which one they prefer to use. The world is still figuring out which of these ZK approaches is best, but the guys over at Polygon have covered all the bases.
This chimes with DeversiFi’s own vision for DeFi: a world that gives developers the power to construct applications the way they want, and is willing to embrace multiple technologies to find the one that’s most suitable long-term. There’s going to be lots of trial and error in our space over the next few years, and Polygon’s approach provides a genuinely sustainable answer.