Matter Labs Opens zkSync Era to Users, Claiming First in ‘Zero Knowledge’ Tech on Ethereum

After zkSync Era was launched only for developers last month, the project took the additional step Friday of opening to general users. The latest push comes just days ahead of the rival Polygon system’s planned rollout Monday of its own “zero knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine.”

AccessTimeIconMar 24, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 24, 2023 at 3:05 p.m. UTC

The race between Ethereum scaling platforms to come out with the first ”zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine” (zkEVM) – seen as a key advance in speeding up blockchain transactions and reducing the cost – culminated Friday as Matter Labs opened its zkSync Era to users.

Matter Labs said zkSync Era, which launched last month for developers only, is now also open to general users.

So-called ZK rollups are a type of blockchain scaling system based on cryptography known as zero-knowledge proofs. A zkEVM is a special type of ZK rollup compatible with Ethereum Virtual Machine, a piece of software that executes smart contracts, so it’s easier for developers familiar with the ecosystem to design or reconfigure applications.

Zero-knowledge proofs were invented in the early 1980s, and blockchain developers have been working on ZK rollups for years, but not until now has one been made available to general users with the EVM compatibility.

The competition among developers to reach market first with a zkEVM has been a source of intense speculation this year in blockchain tech circles. Polygon, a rival Ethereum scaling provider, has disclosed plans to push its own zkEVM live on Monday.

“ZK rollups are the Holy Grail of scaling Ethereum but, obviously, only if you can preserve compatibility with the existing ecosystem,” Alex Gluchowski, the CEO of Matter Labs, told CoinDesk.

According to Gluchowski, zkSync Era will have over 200 projects ready to be deployed on the ZK rollup.

He said a differentiator for zkSync Era is that there will be native Account Abstraction, enabling users to have a more user-friendly experience where they can define how they pay their gas (meaning, they won’t need to necessarily pay transaction fees in ether).

The rollup race comes to a close

When Polygon announced the date it would release the first zkEVM on the market, Matter Labs had not publicly shared when it intended to release its version – providing an extra jolt of drama in the competition.

A few days’ difference probably won’t make a huge difference in the long run, but it could confer bragging rights and possibly some extra juice in the marketing.

Gluchowski claims that Matter Labs was “ready to launch earlier” so the team saw little reason to wait.

“We opened the mainnet to developers a month ago,” he said.

ZkSync Era has gone through seven independent security audits, according to Matter Labs’ press release.

Gluchowski also noted that the team is referring to Friday’s opening as the “Alpha launch” because he wants to warn users that this is a new technology so “ people should take it carefully.”

“We don't want people to bridge a lot of funds and, like, just ape into it,” he said.


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Margaux Nijkerk

Margaux Nijkerk reports on the Ethereum protocol and L2s. A graduate of Johns Hopkins and Emory universities, she has a masters in International Affairs & Economics. She holds a small amount of ETH and other altcoins.