The developers of the Near and Polygon networks are collaborating to develop a zero-knowledge (ZK) prover for Web Assembly (WASM) blockchains, as announced on Nov. 8. The new prover, named “zkWASM,” will enable WASM-based networks to join the Polygon ecosystem for the first time.
Zero-knowledge, meet Web Assembly.
The NEAR Foundation and @0xPolygonLabs are set to deliver the future of zero-knowledge for WASM based blockchains with zkWASM.
Empowering greater security, scalability, developer flexibility, and interoperability in the open web
zkWASM will… pic.twitter.com/D1BIztjMI9
— NEAR Protocol | NEARCON | November 7-10 | Lisbon! (@NEARProtocol) November 8, 2023
WASM is a binary instruction format originally developed for web browsers. Some blockchain networks use it as a computation engine instead of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). For example, Near, Stellar, Polkadot, and Internet Computer use WASM instead of EVM. Related: Stellar joins Bytecode alliance to help develop EVM alternative WASM
According to the announcement, the zkWASM prover is currently in active development and is expected to be available next year. Once completed, it will be integrated into Polygon’s chain development kit (CDK), allowing developers to create custom blockchain networks based on their initial parameters. This means developers will have the option to use the CDK to create WASM networks and integrate them into the broader Polygon ecosystem, including the Ethereum mainnet.
Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of Near, mentioned that the zkWASM prover will enhance the network’s integration with Ethereum, ultimately improving liquidity for users:
“NEAR is integrating more with Ethereum by innovating in new research frontiers, and the shared expertise of NEAR and Polygon will expand the ZK landscape and defragment liquidity across chains.”
The announcement also stated that zkWASM will be used to improve validator efficiency on the Near network, as the zero-knowledge proof process will reduce computational overhead compared to the current shard validation process. This will lead to better scalability and increased decentralization on the Near network.
Polygon is working on building a multichain ecosystem, referred to as “Polygon 2.0.” This new system will include bridges that use zero-knowledge proofs to transfer assets between chains. In September, the developer unveiled plans to replace the Polygon network’s current native coin, MATIC, with a new coin called POL.