What Is zkSync And Why Does It Matter?


The scaling of Ethereum – or lack thereof – remains a pressing problem in the blockchain industry. Even though ETH 2.0 will offer many improvements, there is no consensus on when it will go live. Until then, solutions such as zkSync will continue to gain momentum, providing many benefits. 

What Is zkSync Exactly?

The concept of zkSync is to provide a trustless and zero-compromise Layer 2 scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain. The team achieves this through zkRollup technology, zerk-knowledge proofs, and on-chain data availability. The outcome is how users can send funds over zkSync without worrying over switching between layers, new deposit addresses, or friction. 

Moreover, the zkSync solution is exciting for both users and developers. The prospect of lower fees, enhancing the UX aspect of crypto wallets and services, and the various DeFi enhancements to explore are just some examples of why this project matters. It removes the need for third parties, instant confirmations, up to 99% fee reduction, and ensures payments can occur to existing Ethereum addresses and smart contracts alike. 

How Is It Different From Other Solutions?

The Ethereum ecosystem is home to various Layer 2 scaling solutions. Every project tries a slightly different approach, yet zkSync’s team is confident they stand out in security and usability. The on-chain data availability and use of zkRollup technology ensure there is no need for operational activity to keep funds safe. Even if users were to not transaction for months on end, they could still withdraw assets without external aid. 

The concept of zkRollups has been touted as “viable for payments, exchange, and other application-specific use cases” by Vitalik Buterin. Moreover, Buterin expects zkRollups to become the favorable option for all use cases thanks to ongoing ZK-SNARK technology improvements. Thus, it is a different but potentially more suitable approach than optimistic rollups. 

Even if the Ethereum network were to get congested again – for any reason – zkSync will function exceptionally well. An overloaded network poses no threats to assets in zkSync, and its regular operation should remain unaffected regardless of amounts. Even if a high gas price is required to get zkSync blocks mined at high priority, those fees will be minimal compared to Layer 1 costs. 

Privacy Could Be Implemented Into zkSync

One thing to consider with zkSync is how this Layer 2 solution does not introduce extra privacy (at this time). It is a transparent network like Ethereum, with no obfuscation whatsoever. However, the team admits privacy needs to be taken seriously and might even be the primary catalyst for mass adoption. zkSync’s roadmap introduces privacy-oriented goals, even if they are challenging to implement. 

Enabling privacy for zkSync isn’t impossible but will need to be enabled by default as an integral feature. Additionally, enabling privacy by default requires low private transaction costs, even if the computation overhead increases. However, the team admits focusing on the scalability of zkSync takes priority, and they will revisit the privacy-related topic later. 

Version 1 Is Live Now

The first iteration of zkSync is on the mainnet for users to explore today. There is still room for improvement, as the team aims to finalize Atomic Swap libraries, integrate the Numio wallet, and the ongoing security audits before each significant upgrade. There will be further enhancements to the protocol and how it operates, as the team aims to enhance the overall user experience wherever possible. 

Speaking of future plans, the zkSync team explores permissionless token listings, further wallet and exchange integrations, support for smart contracts, and much more. There will also be a native layer token in the future, although that may not happen for some time to come. 

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