On March 29, Polygon unveiled an identity service as the latest addition to its upcoming suite of zero-knowledge (ZK) protocols, the project announced in an official blog post.
Zero-knowledge-based protocols bolster privacy by allowing blockchain networks to validate transactions without disclosing data other than time and date on the blockchain. Only the entities involved in a transaction can access further details regarding a transaction.
The move is designed to let users transact on Ethereum but protect the sanctity of their personal information in a much greater way than they can now. As for Polygon, offering a rich variety of ZK-based protocols positions the team as a front-runner in the technology that it and many others believe will define how blockchains are used in the future.
Social Reputation Systems
When fully launched, the Polygon ID product suite will include a wallet app, ID connection service, and comprehensive ID management platform for developers and organizations. The protocol can also be leveraged for Know-Your-Customer compliance, social reputation systems, and private decentralized votings.
Polygon is also making the move in anticipation of Ethereum’s shift to Proof of Stake later this year. Zero knowledge proofs will enable blockchains such as Ethereum to accomodate more users by offering advanced privacy features not currently supported by the network.
How Zero-Knowledge Proofs Became Ethereum’s Magic Bullets
Vitalik Buterin has frequently emphasized the critical importance of zero knowledge proofs to Ethereum’s scaling roadmap in recent months. While ZK proofs have been a part of Ethereum’s roadmap since 2016, Buterin’s December article “Endgame” described ZK-based rollups as a key goal for the Ethereum ecosystem for the coming years.
“I expect ZK-SNARKs to be a significant revolution as they permeate the mainstream world over the next 10-20 years,” Buterin commented on Twitter in September.
Polygon’s move has been under development for some time. In August 2021, Polygon announced it would embrace zero-knowledge proof technologies and allocated $1B toward acquiring leading assets, hiring expert talent, and designing new products. In recent blog posts, Polygon described ZK technologies as “the end game for blockchain scaling” and its “major strategic bet moving forward.”
Users in Control
Polygon also merged with ZK scaling solution Hermez last August and teamed up with Ernst & Young on the third version of their ZK-based rollup Nightfall in September. Polygon revealed its forthcoming STARK-based EVM-compatible rollup, Polygon Miden, in November. The team then unveiled the recursion ZK proof solution, Polygon Zero, during its ZK Day event in December. The event also hosted a panel discussion featuring Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin.
Polygon says its new identity platform is the first to be powered by ZK cryptography.
The service is described as a “blockchain-based ID for decentralized and self-sovereign models” boasting “scalable and private on-chain verification” for DeFi dapps. “Putting users in control of their identity and personal data is a way to enable social coordination and take back power from third parties,” the Polygon team wrote in a statement.
The team highlights that ZK-based identity solutions enable a wide range of use-cases including private DAO voting, censorship-resistant P2P communications, KYC applications, and social reputational scores.
“Polygon ID is private by default, offers on-chain verification and permissionless attestation,” said Mihailo Bjelic, Polygon’s co-founder. “It is also a great showcase for how zero knowledge proofs can help us create a better world,” he added.
Developers will be able to utilize the protocol using its forthcoming ID client toolkit. The kit includes a software development kit and native app templates. The team predict Polygon ID will be fully launched during the third quarter of 2022.