Leading Defi projects, wallets and exchanges invest to bring Solidity to zkSync

This post was originally published on Matter Labs

Matter Labs is honored to announce a Series A round for zkSync from some of the most reputable projects in the blockchain space.

Matter Labs

Mar 1 · 5 min read

This round is led by Union Square Ventures, an early investor in Twitter, Cloudflare, Firebase, Twilio, MongoDB, and Coinbase. It also includes our existing investors — Placeholder, 1kx, and Dragonfly — who have provided us with incredible support over the last two years. And we are happy to welcome our new strategic investors: companies and founders behind prominent crypto projects who are interested in using zkSync to scale their protocols and services.

zkSync Ecosystem Round

We decided to limit the participation in this round mainly to the strategic partners, to preserve the dominance of the community share in future zkSync network — in contrast to the anticipated distribution of other scaling solutions’ assets and governance.

Back to first principles: replacing trust with crypto

The burning demand to scale Ethereum has a subtle yet notable dimension. The crypto community will strongly prefer solutions with the least compromises on security, decentralization, and UX.

This is what makes ZK rollup tech so important. It relies on pure cryptography rather than game-theoretic mechanisms, and is thus the only scaling approach with no upper bound on the value it can securely handle in L2. Looking from a different angle: a ZK rollup can provide security guarantees comparable to a normal smart contract on L1.

Uncapped security has a big implication: there is no need to break down liquidity into many separate islands. The zkSync ecosystem can therefore grow limitlessly, leveraging composability and compounding network effects. For protocols such as Aave, Balancer, or Curve, who already hold billions of dollars of value, this aspect is of paramount concern — because it permits their exponential growth to continue safely.

The payment backbone of Ethereum

ZK-SNARK technology has made an impressive leap in 2020. Matter Labs has successfully launched zkSync for scaling payments, processed over 1 million transactions on mainnet, powered 2 Gitcoin Grant Rounds, and was integrated into Golem, Numio, StablePay, Storj, plus a number of other dapps. Our recent network upgrade brought recursion to the mainnet, making zkSync the most affordable payment option across all existing rollups.

Our roadmap foresees further integrations with all of the strategic partners from this round.

The integration with the wallets will make the L2 experience perfectly seamless. UX-focused smart contracts wallets like Argent and MyKey can onboard millions of new users straight to zkSync L2, using counterfactual account creation to avoid exorbitant contract deployment fees. And popular wallets like Trust Wallet, imToken, Coinbase Wallet, and Huobi Wallet will have an option to offer a low-cost alternative to L1 payments to their huge subscriber bases.

All users will also be able to create and potentially top up their accounts directly from exchanges or on-ramp services (for example Coinbase, Huobi, Binance, Ripio, or Moonpay) without a single L1 transaction.

Flexa can now make native crypto payments available to thousands of merchants.

Moreover, traders will get a chance to shift liquidity between exchanges rapidly, reducing their transactional friction.

Overall, we envision zkSync turning into the main payment backbone of Ethereum, connecting users, wallets, services, dapps, and exchanges.

We are also close to enabling trustless trades natively in zkSync, facilitated by liquidity providers. This will be an intermediate step before the advent of ZK rollup smart contracts, which will enable NFTs, AMMs, DEXes, and aggregators (such as Loopring, Curve or Mooniswap) to fully migrate onto zkSync.

EVM in a ZK rollup

As exciting and promising as it all is, the most anticipated innovation area in ZKP tech is the support of generic smart contract programmability. Matter Labs pioneered this area with our Zinc programming framework in 2020 — you can test in action with Curve on zkSync testnet.

This year, we’re aiming at an even more ambitious and widely awaited goal: bringing Turing-complete smart contracts with Solidity to zkSync!

Why Solidity? We believe in the bright future of Rust-based smart contract languages and we are determined to keep developing Zinc. However, Solidity is significant in one important aspect: there are plenty of existing battle-tested codebases that need to be ported to L2. We want to make migrations and experimentation easy. Any code that works in L1 should work in L2 with minimal modifications.

Enabling EVM-support in a ZK rollup is a very challenging task, but we have made great progress towards it. PLONK’s recursion and custom gates are the key elements that make close to full compatibility possible. Our benchmarks show that the prover part of the costs remain negligible compared to the on-chain gas part. We will publish more technical details separately.

The public testnet for smart contracts on zkSync will be available in a few months.

Join the movement — embrace zero-knowledge crypto!

Finally, we want to reaffirm our commitment to the original zkSync vision. We continue to work with full speed on the decentralized, fully permissionless, censorship-resistant, and privacy-enabling zkSync network, owned and governed by the community. These values are deeply engraved in the zkSync DNA.

To escape creeping centralization and tail risk events over time, blockchains should strive to replace every mechanism that relies on incentives with ones relying purely on cryptography. Here is why: game-theoretic constructs seem straightforward in an artificial lab environment, but quickly turn into chaotic systems when real-world incentives kick in. Math, on the other hand, remains predictable and provable, no matter how many layers are added on top.

Therefore, we hold it to be self-evident that zero-knowledge proofs are the most important innovation for the blockchain space after ECC, PoW, and Merkle trees. Beyond trustless scalability, they can be used to radically solve such extremely hard problems as:

  • Privacy (with the zero-knowledge property itself),
  • Censorship and frontrunning (with the time-locked encryption),
  • Data availability (with the help of zkPorter).

Here is how you can help the growing “pure crypto” movement:

1. Join the discussion. You are always welcome in the zkSync community!

2. Integrate with zkSync. If you are a wallet, exchange, or a Defi protocol — please reach out. We will be happy to assist you.

3. Spread the word. Make your research, then talk to your favourite dapps and protocols. Help their decision-makers to understand the real trade-offs of cryptographic vs. game-theoretic solutions.

4. Contribute to the code, or just use it. Matter Labs has been working on fundamental ZKP R&D for years. All our code is 100% free and open-source — feel free to use, share, and extend any of our contributions.

5. Work with us — we’re hiring! If you feel aligned with our values and mission, let’s work together. We are a small, focused, highly motivated team full of exceptional talent. You will find our open career opportunities here. Check out our internal Team Handbook to learn more about our principles and work practices.

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