Polygon zkEVM Mainnet Beta Goes Live; Ethereum’s Buterin Sends First Transaction

The release of Polygon’s zkEVM comes just days after competitor Matter Labs released its own zkEVM, zkSync Era.

AccessTimeIconMar 27, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 3, 2023 at 3:46 p.m. UTC

Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform, released its zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) beta to the public Monday, the latest launch in what is expected to be one of 2023’s hottest blockchain trends.

Polygon also said that it is making all aspects of its zkEVM open source, so developers are able to study and share the code, allowing them to contribute to more innovations in the zero-knowledge space.

“We want to be extremely aligned to the Web3 ethos,” Sandeep Nailwal, the co-founder of Polygon, said in an interview with CoinDesk. “We want more experimentation.”

As part of the ceremony of the announcement, according to the Polygon team, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, was granted the privilege of initiating the first transaction on the new zkEVM, livestreamed at ETHGlobal at 4:30 p.m. Central European Time (10:30 a.m. ET).

Vitalik Buterin initiates first transaction on Polygon's zkEVM (screenshot)
Vitalik Buterin initiates first transaction on Polygon's zkEVM (screenshot)

The transaction that Buterin sent on the zkEVM was successful, where he sent 0.005 ETH to a random address with the corny message, ostensibly referencing Neil Armstrong's famous first words upon walking on the moon: "A few million constraints for man, unconstrained scalability for mankind."

Over 50 companies shared that they would build using the Polygon zkEVM technology, according to Polygon’s press release.

The race to come out with the first zkEVMs culminated last week when Polygon’s rival, Matter Labs, opened its zkEVM, zkSync Era, to the public.

Buterin himself has promoted the development of scaling systems for Ethereum since at least 2020, and noted in a blog post in August the various versions of zkEVMs come with trade-offs – such as speed versus the degree of compatibility with the Ethereum Virtual Machine programming environment.

"In general, it's healthy for the space that all of these types are being explored," he wrote.

Although the Polygon zkEVM is live for users, Nailwal warned that it is still a new technology, which is why it is being called a beta mainnet.

“It's a new technology, so we are going to put ample warnings for the users that please be cautious on this, don't bring your life savings into it immediately,” Nailwal said.

Polygon has also previously told CoinDesk that it is exploring using Zero-Knowledge technology in its main chain, the Polygon POS chain.

Nailwal said he believes ZK technology is the future of Ethereum.

In “18 to 24 months, you will see almost all of the large web3 applications being built on the zero-knowledge-proven layer 2 chains,” Nailwal said.

UPDATE (14:40 UTC): Adds details on transaction sent by Vitalik Buterin.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


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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.