The developers of the Near and Polygon networks are teaming up to create a zero-knowledge (ZK) prover for Web Assembly (WASM) blockchains, according to a joint announcement on Nov. 8. The new prover, called “zkWASM,” will for the first time allow WASM-based networks to join the Polygon ecosystem.
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… https://t.co/vNtYr42I9N pic.twitter.com/D1BIztjMI9
— NEAR Protocol | NEARCON | November 7-10 | Lisbon! (@NEARProtocol) November 8, 2023
WASM is a binary instruction format that was developed for use in web browsers. Some blockchain networks also use it as a computation engine instead of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). For example, Near, Stellar, Polkadot and Internet Computer all use WASM instead of EVM.
Related: Stellar joins Bytecode alliance to help develop EVM alternative WASM
According to the announcement, the new zkWASM prover is “in active development and should be available next year.” Once completed, it will be integrated into Polygon’s chain development kit (CDK), which allows developers to spin up custom blockchain networks based on the initial parameters they set. This means that 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 itself.
According to Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of Near, the zkWASM prover will allow the network to integrate more with Ethereum, 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 itself, as the zero-knowledge proof process will cut down on computational overhead compared to the current work of validating a shard. This means that the Near network will obtain “better scalability and increased decentralization,” it stated.
Polygon is attempting to build a multichain ecosystem, which it calls “Polygon 2.0.” The new system will feature bridges that use zero-knowledge proofs to transfer assets from one chain to the other. In September, the developer unveiled plans to replace the Polygon network’s current native coin, MATIC (MATIC), with a new one called POL.