The NEAR Foundation and Polygon Labs have announced a collaborative effort to develop a zero-knowledge (ZK) prover for Web Assembly (WASM) blockchains. This initiative, termed “zkWASM,” is poised to bridge the gap between WASM-based chains and the Ethereum ecosystem, as revealed in a joint announcement on November 8, 2023.

zkWASM stands as a revolutionary prover in the realm of blockchain technology. It aims to enable WASM-based networks to integrate seamlessly into the Polygon ecosystem, marking their first-ever participation. The primary motivation behind the creation of WASM, a binary instruction format, was web browsers. However, its utility has expanded to potentially serve as a compute engine for blockchain networks, offering an alternative to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

The integration of zkWASM into Polygon’s Chain Development Kit (CDK) is a pivotal aspect of this collaboration. The CDK empowers developers with tools to create customized blockchain networks based on their specific needs. With the inclusion of zkWASM, developers will gain the capability to design WASM networks and incorporate them into the broader Polygon ecosystem, which includes the Ethereum mainnet itself.

This partnership signifies a major step for NEAR in its integration with the Ethereum network. Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR Protocol, emphasized that “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.” This approach is expected to improve liquidity for users and enhance the overall efficiency of the NEAR network.

One of the most significant advantages of the zkWASM prover is its impact on NEAR validators. By employing the zero-knowledge proof method, the computational overhead involved in confirming a shard is significantly reduced. This reduction in computational demand is projected to lead to “better scalability and increased decentralization” for the NEAR network, according to the joint statement.

Polygon is concurrently working on developing a multichain ecosystem, known as “Polygon 2.0.” This new system will feature bridges operating on zero-knowledge proof-based transition mechanisms, facilitating the transfer of assets across different chains.

The development and expected launch of zkWASM next year marks a significant leap towards creating a more secure, interoperable, and scalable Web3 ecosystem. This partnership between NEAR and Polygon exemplifies the collaborative spirit in the blockchain community, driving innovation and integration across different platforms and technologies.

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