Ethereum Scaling platform zkSync v2 makes its debut but doesn’t steer much excitement

A layer 2 network called zkSync is a “zero-knowledge” (ZK) rollup that combines user transactions and sends them to Ethereum so that they can be added to its ledger. ZK-rollups use intricate cryptographic proofs to demonstrate the integrity of the data they transmit to Ethereum. The next version of zkSync’s rollup, version 2, will be fully interoperable with all Ethereum smart contracts, the tiny code snippets that drive blockchain-based applications.

After a 100-day countdown, Matter Labs on Friday made available the long-awaited second iteration of its zkSync Ethereum scaling technology. Before the much-anticipated Baby Alpha launch, zkSync, an Ethereum “rollup” network that enables users to transact swiftly and affordably without sacrificing security, came under fire from doubters and rivals leery of its bold technological claims. In particular, Matter Labs’ marketing of the zkSync v2 platform as the first of its sort to “launch” on Ethereum’s mainnet, defeating quickly approaching rivals from Polygon and Scroll, has come under fire.

Although the platform is now active on Ethereum’s main network, for the time being, it will have very few functionalities. The Baby Alpha launch, according to Matter Labs’ official road map, will not be open to outside projects but will instead be used to put zkSync’s systems “through a series of real-money stress tests that will help us verify the production system is operating as intended and is performing as expected.” According to the road map, a “Fair Launch” with access to outside teams would occur soon.

The first of three anticipated zkEVM projects to deploy in some capacity on Ethereum’s mainnet is zkSync, even though access to its v2 network will initially be highly limited. All of the projects promise to be compatible with any Ethereum smart contract and to outperform the network’s existing scaling solutions in terms of security and efficiency.

The question of whether zk-SNARKs, the intricate mathematical proof mechanism that is meant to power the entire network, actually exist lies at the heart of zkSync’s detractors’ complaints. The proof system used by zkSync is intended to make it more secure than scaling platforms like Ronin and Polygon PoS, which send data to Ethereum without allowing layer 1 base network actors to verify its accuracy.

Earlier this month, Steven Goldfeder, the CEO of Offchain Labs, which develops Arbitrum, a platform that competes with zkSync, asserted that there was no proof that zkSync’s prover technology actually functioned as advertised. He tweeted about zkSync and said, “We are NOT 12 days away from the first zkEVM on mainnet in any meaningful way. If you read the small print, they still haven’t enabled zk-proofs on their testnet (!!),” he concluded.

These assertions, however, were refuted by Matter Labs. In an interview, Steve Newcomb, chief product officer of Matter Labs, stated: “We would simply point to the fact that we have deployed our end-to-end prover exactly as defined with public verification and that we have shipped it exactly on schedule as outlined in our public road map – milestone 3.” Tweets from the founder of Arbitrum are untrue and reflect poorly on our entire industry, he continued. We would want to see industry standards for open source, mainnet releases, and many more areas because it would stop fraudulent claims.

The initial iteration of zkSync’s technology, which was restricted to particular types of blockchain applications, has $62 million locked up. With the zkSync v2 platform’s increased generalizability, this number is anticipated to rise. Comparatively, the top layer 2 platforms—”Optimistic rollups” from Optimism and Arbitrum—now account for over 80% of Ethereum’s layer 2 ecosystem and have $3 billion in total value locked.