Layer2 solutions in Smart Contract-enabled blockchains have immensely increased the viability of assets and ecosystems that depend on them to function.
So much so that further integrations will enable new kinds of possibilities within them.
They also free up blockchain data, allowing for greater throughput and higher transaction volumes without compromising security.
Hop Protocol recently voted to integrate with zkSync 2.0. Anthony Rose spoke with us about that event and other possibilities.
Here’s the interview.
Anthony Rose, Head of Engineering at Matter Labs
- Hop Protocol voted to integrate with zkSync 2.0. Congratulations. What’s next for zkSync?
On October 28th we released the first version of zkSync 2.0, known as “Baby Alpha” to mainnet, although at the moment in a state that is restricted only for internal use. In this initial period, we are heavily focusing on improving the performance of the system and ensuring that it is secure.
As our Chief Product Officer, Steve Newcomb likes to say, we’re kicking the tires of the protocol. These systems are in a sense their own prototypes with a high degree of complexity, and we need to ensure that we minimize risk to our users.
Our next big milestone will be Fair Onboarding Alpha, where we will welcome all ecosystem projects to deploy their applications. After that will be the Full Launch Alpha (Early 2023). Once we finish our security audits, have opened our bug bounties, and our ecosystem has had the opportunity to deploy their projects to the platform, zkSync 2.0 will be open for all users.
- EIP 4844 has received consideration for inclusion (CFI) by the Ethereum core development team. How will this affect zkSync?
This will be great for zkSync. For a ZK-rollup to inherit the security of Ethereum we are required to post a significant amount of data to L1. This is to ensure that given only information available at L1 the state of the L2 can be fully reconstructed. EIP4844 will substantially improve the way that rollups are able to make this data available at L1 and dramatically reduce the costs of operating the rollup. These cost reductions can be passed on to users, making the L2 even cheaper to use.
- How has the merge affected layer 2 rollups?
The merge, whilst obviously a huge technical accomplishment and important milestone for Ethereum, doesn’t substantially affect L2 rollups as the consensus mechanism at L1 is somewhat unrelated to the scaling problems that L2 systems are designed to address.
We are very glad to see progress on Ethereum’s roadmap however, as there are many rollup-centric improvements that teams are now able to focus on (including EIP-4844).
- Please, can you tell us about the projects that have been onboarded with zkSync?
To date, there are over 150 ecosystem partners that have registered to deploy on zkSync 2.0. This includes Chainlink, SushiSwap, Uniswap, Aave, Argent, 1inch, Gnosis, and Curve to name a few.
This is set to make our Full Launch Alpha the largest and most participated Layer 2 launch yet. We are a neutral platform that is open and permissionless guided by our mission to accelerate the mass adoption of crypto for personal sovereignty.
Judging by the current excitement from the community, we expect to continue seeing all kinds of projects deploying on zkSync; from DAOs, DeFi, gaming to NFTs, payments and more.
- How can gas-free transactions become an everyday thing within DeFi ecosystems?
While transactions must be paid for to ensure the security and usability of the system, zkSync 2.0 supports account abstraction whereby dApps can pay gas on behalf of a user, and they’re also free to customize this for their specific application.
For example, if a wallet provider wants to allow 10 free transactions to every user who creates an account, or if they want to accept payment from a range of ERC20 tokens that they support, they can leverage functionality that makes this possible.
Account abstraction gives developers a level of flexibility over their payment options that aren’t achievable at L1.
- How critical are network bridges to DeFi ecosystems?
Bridges are an integral part of the entire Layer 2 ecosystem – including DeFi. This is especially true in the early life of a Layer 2 network as it grows in usage, because it allows users to move funds to the protocol to enjoy fast transactions at low cost.
With integrations and bridges such as Hop, users will be able to send funds to and from Layer 1 as well as other Layer 2s like Arbitrum and Optimism. This will improve liquidity and save users time and money.
- What does the future hold for layer 2 ecosystems?
Layer 2 solutions will provide the necessary foundation on top of which the ecosystem can scale Ethereum without degrading its security or decentralization. We expect the lower fees and higher transaction speeds will increase both usage and use cases of all sorts of ecosystem projects.
It will be a critical step toward more mainstream adoption of crypto. But we only see it as a stepping stone. It is our vision that unlimited scalability, and consequently, true mass adoption, will happen in Layer 3 and beyond.
Layer 3 will be an ecosystem of customizable and trustlessly linked blockchains that we refer to as ‘HyperChains’. Layer 3 will enable limitless scaling and customization, unlocking use cases that we can’t even imagine today (and many that are prohibited from a strictly economical point of view at L1 and perhaps even L2).
Related: What Are Layer 2 Scaling Solutions?
- Are there any other projects that are in talks with zkSync?
As we mentioned earlier, over 150 projects have already committed to launch on zkSync. There are an additional 150 startup projects that are building in stealth and that intend to launch in the 3-6 month timeframe after our Full Launch Alpha.
- How do you think the current market malaise has affected DeFi project integrations?
DeFi has actually fared pretty well in light of recent events, especially considering we’re in the middle of a bear market. For example, according to a recent Bloomberg article by mid-November, trading volumes on decentralized exchanges were up almost 11% to $62 billion.
While no one is immune to the contagion effects, DeFi has obviously not suffered from the systemic catastrophes that we’ve seen with several centralized exchanges. Looking at data on DeFi Lama confirms this.
When you have assets on-chain and the logic of the system implemented in publically inspectable smart contracts, individuals simply cannot abuse the system in the way that it appears has been the case at certain CEXs.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be bugs, or exploits or that the DAOs governing these protocols won’t make bad choices but I think a lot of the execution risk is automated away.
- How can security be improved for DeFi users?
Like many nascent technologies that are rapidly innovating, DeFi is prone to human error that can cause issues, and we obviously still see vulnerabilities in contracts being exploited, or issues with things like private key management.
While users can take the necessary steps to safeguard their funds, and their keys and avoid risky behavior such as connecting their wallets to sites they don’t know –ultimately a big chunk of the responsibility falls on the protocols and projects to ensure that what is deployed has been exhaustively tested.
For a Layer 2 solution like zkSync, it is our duty to ensure that everything we deploy goes through the highest level of scrutiny. For example, in November, we announced a partnership with OpenZeppelin, a tier-1 security firm.
They subsequently published the results of their first zkSync audit and revealed that they had found zero critical or high-severity issues. In parallel, we’re running several bug bounty programs.
The first one in partnership with Code4rena was recently concluded with a total available bounty of $165,500 USDC, and we’ll soon be expanding the multi-milion dollar bug bounty program we have for zkSync v1 at Immunef to include the v2 system.
We’ll also be open sourcing the codebase at Fair Onboarding Alpha to ensure that teams have the ability to understand exactly how the system behaves, and to further invite review of the implementation. These are some of the steps we’re taking to make zkSync 2.0 as safe as it can be for developers and for users.
We’re striving to build an engineering culture in which we’re paranoid about security; this is such a critical topic for anyone working in this space.
Many of us are here to advance the mass adoption of crypto, and we need to remember that any security issue does not only have an adverse impact on the user and the project in question, but it has further-reaching impacts in terms of trust and reputation.
- What sets zkSync out from other rollups and layer-2 solutions?
We believe that zkSync 2.0 has the five magic ingredients for scaling Ethereum:
A general-purpose zkRollup: to support general-purpose applications
EVM-compatible: to enable easy porting from Ethereum and EVM chains
Solidity support: to support the most common language for smart contract developers
Open source: to protect the freedoms to view, change, or fork the code
Secure funds: the system is designed in such a way that it will inherit the full security of Ethereum.
- How have you made things easy for those who want to port to zkSync seamlessly?
zkSync offers multiple benefits for Ethereum developers:
- EVM Compatible – supporting generalized EVM smart contracts on a ZK-rollup making it easy to deploy existing dApps
- Toolchain Compatible – able to port smart contracts with existing tools
- Ethos Compatible – aligned with the ethos of decentralization and open-source
- Certainty – using zero-knowledge proofs offering certainty of security not probability
- Future Proof – ecosystem partners that adopt zkSync 2.0 now will enjoy all future improvements without the need to change their code
Additionally zkSync 2.0 supports account abstraction, Solidity and Vyper, and is built with an LLVM compiler that will one day give us the ability to tap into the power of other programming libraries.
- How soon should the DeFi community expect the deployment of the HOP Bridge?
Hop is now one of our ecosystem partners, and will be able to start deploying at our next milestone, Fair Onboarding Alpha.
- How can developers in the DeFi space interact with zkSync?
There are a number of ways developers can interact with zkSync 2.0. They can