What is Polygon zkEVM, zk-rollup & Use Case of Polygon zkEVM
Polygon zkEVM is a Layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum that uses zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to verify off-chain transactions. Continue reading to find out more about Polygon zkEVM and its use cases.
10 JUL 2023, 5 min read
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Polygon’s latest scaling solution seeks to let smart contracts, developer tools, and wallets work seamlessly in its vision to ‘bring Ethereum to everyone.’

This article explores the functionality of Polygon zkEVM, highlighting its use cases and advantages. It aims to explain how the fusion of zero-knowledge proofs with the Ethereum Virtual Machine can offer rapid, cost-effective, and efficient solutions.

What is Polygon?

Polygon (formerly Matic) is a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks.

It's a scalable, flexible, and robust solution that addresses some of the key issues in the blockchain industry, such as high gas fees and slow block confirmations.

Think of Polygon as an added layer of infrastructure built atop the Ethereum blockchain, aiming to transform Ethereum into a multi-chain system, or the so-called "Internet of Blockchains."

Polygon is unique because it offers a versatile platform that supports multiple types of blockchains, including both standalone chains and those that leverage Ethereum's network's security (known as Layer 2 chains).

Polygon’s Layer 2 blockchain solution is compatible with EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). You can run smart contracts like on the Ethereum blockchain but at a lower cost and faster speed.

To contextualize Polygon's influence, notable partnerships include significant companies like Starbucks, Disney, and Reddit.

These collaborations indicate the utility of Polygon in creating decentralized products such as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and applications for the Metaverse.

What is Polygon zkEVM?

Polygon zkEVM marks a significant evolution in Ethereum-compatible blockchains, combining two influential technologies: zero-knowledge proofs and the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

In layman's terms, zero-knowledge proofs are cryptographic protocols allowing an individual to prove a statement's truth without disclosing any other information besides the statement being true.

This technology allows for secure and private transactions, as it's possible to authenticate a transaction's validity without revealing sensitive information.

On the other side, EVM is the computational engine of the Ethereum blockchain that allows developers to run smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts stored on the blockchain and can automatically execute when predetermined conditions are met.

Polygon zkEVM is essentially a Layer 2 solution that employs zero-knowledge proofs for enhancing security and privacy while using Ethereum Virtual Machine for compatibility with Ethereum-based smart contracts.

The result is a faster, cheaper, and more efficient blockchain solution, substantially reducing transaction costs and improving finality time.

What is zk-rollup?

zk-Rollup is a Layer 2 scaling solution derived from 'zero-knowledge proofs' — hence the 'zk' in zk-Rollup.

A zk-Rollup takes many transactions, verifies them off-chain, and then sends a single proof representing all the included transactions to the Ethereum mainnet.

This single proof is much less data-intensive than the sum of the individual transactions, which helps alleviate congestion on the Ethereum network, reducing transaction costs and increasing the speed of the transactions.

It's important to note that despite being processed off-chain, the security of these transactions is still maintained by the underlying Ethereum network, making zk-Rollups a secure and efficient scaling solution.

How is Ethereum Scaled up by Polygon using zkEVM?

Scaling Ethereum refers to increasing its transaction processing capacity, allowing it to handle more transactions per second (TPS).

Ethereum's original design allows for roughly 15 TPS, a limit that can cause significant delays and high fees when the network is congested.

Polygon uses its zkEVM, which incorporates 'zk-Rollups,' to scale Ethereum. A simplified analogy would be carpooling, where multiple passengers (representing individual transactions) share a single vehicle (the zk-Rollup) to reach their destination (the Ethereum mainnet), reducing the overall traffic on the road (the Ethereum network).

Differences between zkEVM v/s EVM

While zkEVM and EVM are similar in many ways (as they are both Ethereum Virtual Machines), several key differences set them apart.

The most significant difference is in their approach to scalability and transaction costs. Unlike the traditional EVM, the zkEVM uses zero-knowledge proofs to validate transactions.

Another difference is the speed of transaction finality. zkEVM, due to its unique architecture, offers faster finality of transactions, typically within 2-3 seconds.

This feature is a significant advantage, especially for applications that require quick settlement times.

Furthermore, while EVM relies on Ethereum's existing consensus rules, zkEVM follows its own rules yet confirms its proofs on Ethereum Layer 1, providing enhanced scalability while ensuring high security.

What is the zkEVM Bridge?

The zkEVM bridge is a key element in the ecosystem of Polygon's zkEVM, it plays a vital role in maintaining interoperability with other blockchains.

Interoperability refers to the ability of various blockchains to communicate with one another, sharing data and even transferring assets across different platforms.

To explain the concept with an example, consider how a Yahoo account can receive an email from a Google account.

In the same way, the zkEVM bridge enables one blockchain to 'communicate' with another, even if they run on fundamentally different protocols or structures.

The bridge's function depends on a mechanism where a token is 'locked' on the origin blockchain, and then a 'wrapped' version is minted on the destination blockchain.

It's like depositing a dollar into a foreign bank and getting an equivalent local currency. This process enables the seamless transfer of value across different blockchain ecosystems.

In the context of Polygon's zkEVM, the bridge currently supports communication and asset transfers to and from the Ethereum mainnet and other Layer 2 solutions built on top of Ethereum.

Important Use Cases of zkEVM

zkEVM is a powerful tool designed to cater to various use cases. Some of the most notable include:

  • Payments: With its ability to process transactions almost instantaneously and at low costs, zkEVM can also serve as an efficient medium for processing payments. This includes both peer-to-peer transactions and transactions involving smart contracts.
  • Decentralized Finance (DeFi): Due to its high throughput and low transaction costs, zkEVM is an ideal platform for building DeFi applications. These include lending protocols, decentralized exchanges (DEXs), and yield farming protocols.
  • NFTs: NFTs can greatly benefit from the scalability and low costs offered by zkEVM. The fast transaction times and high throughput ensure a smooth and efficient experience for users creating, trading, or interacting with NFTs.

How Does Polygon zkEVM Reduce Cost?

PolygonzkEVM reduces costs by improving scalability, which distributes the cost of maintaining and securing the network across more transactions, thereby reducing the average cost per transaction.

Instead of processing every transaction individually on-chain (which would require a significant amount of computational power and hence gas fees), zk-rollups enable most of the computational work to be done off-chain.

Only the final state of these transactions is published on the Ethereum network, which uses substantially less gas.


In conclusion, Polygon's zkEVM offers a unique approach to resolving key issues troubling blockchain scalability and transaction costs.

It integrates the strengths of zero-knowledge proofs and Ethereum Virtual Machine to deliver a faster, more efficient, and cost-effective solution.

The zkEVM supports Ethereum's smart contracts and enhances their functionality with improved privacy and reduced costs. From facilitating seamless DeFi applications to enabling a smoother NFT experience, zkEVM is set to impact the blockchain space substantially.

As the blockchain ecosystem continues to evolve, technologies like zkEVM are vital in shaping the future of decentralized networks, making them more accessible and viable for a broader range of applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Polygon use zk-rollups?

Yes, Polygon uses zk-rollups as part of its scalability solution. It combines the power of zk-rollups and Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to create Polygon's zkEVM.

What is the role of a relayer in a zkEVM roll-up system?

In a zkEVM roll-up system, the role of a relayer is essential for batch-processing transactions. The relayer's task is to aggregate multiple user transactions into a single 'rollup' batch. This aggregated data is processed off-chain, and only the final state is posted on-chain.

What is the mechanism of zk-rollup?

zk-rollups allow for multiple transactions to be bundled together and processed as a single transaction, significantly reducing the gas cost and computational load on the Ethereum network.

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