Ethereum Layer 2 Solution — Polygon?

Published in
5 min readAug 15, 2021

What are Ethereum Layer 2 solutions? What is the difference between layer 1 and layer 2 scaling solutions? Why do we need Layer 2 scaling solution? Get to know Polygon — a layer-2 Ethereum scaling project.

layer 2 scaling
Photo by Echo Grid on Unsplash

Polygon, known as Matic Network formerly, is an Ethereum layer 2 scaling solution.

Why Do We Need Layer Scaling?

Blockchain offers us an incredibly robust security infrastructure with its consensus mechanism. However, blockchain projects often face scalability concerns.

Bitcoin typically processes 4.6 transactions per second. In contrast, traditional financial payment providers like Visa process over 1,700 transactions per second.

If blockchain technology is known to be notoriously slow. There is less likelihood that enterprises will adapt to the technology. Firms value fast and efficient processes more than decentralization.

If blockchain technology gets more mainstream traction, this means the network will need to fit vast amounts of users. Can blockchain technology be able to handle the amount of network traffic at a global scale?

A notable Etherum example is during the CryptoKitties frenzy. The enormous transaction queue clogged the Etheruem network. The network simply can’t handle that amount of traffic, with over 12,000 pending Ethereum transactions!

Ethereum Scaling Solutions

Scaling solutions aims to provide faster processing time and transaction speed. It would aid in the adoption of cryptocurrencies on a global scale.

Layer 1 Solution

Layer-1 solutions are improvements on the blockchain protocol itself. For instance, Ethereum’s move from proof of work to proof of stake consensus is considered as Layer-1 solution. As mentioned, Ethereum 2.0 allows higher scalability as staking improves transaction speed and increases energy efficiency.

Another common layer-1 solution is known as Sharding. A scaling approach that splits blockchain block into 2 components. States and transaction history. Each shard is then processed in parallel. Imagine sharding as breaking problems into smaller chunks, reducing the workload on each individual computer in the ecosystem. Hence, improving the network’s speed.

Layer 2 Solution

Polygon is a layer-2 solution. Instead of changing the base protocol of the Ethereum blockchain, layer-2 solutions are built on top of the blockchain.

The layer-2 solution doesn’t mess with the base (Ethereum) blockchain protocol.

Layer-2 scaling solution allows high transaction output without compromising the security and integrity of the base blockchain protocol. Increasing transaction per second (TPS) without sacrificing the blockchain’s decentralization and security.

There are different layer-2 scaling solutions, these are:

  • zero-knowledge rollups
  • optimistic rollups
  • state channels
  • parachains

What is Polygon?

Polygon is a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. Polygon tackles Ethereum issues like high gas fees, poor user experience, and scalability issues.

In addition to low scalability, Ethereum suffers high gas fees. Anyone who wanted to run smart contracts Ethereum-based marketplace like Uniswap would need to fork over enormous gas fees. There are articles, who use layer-2 solution as a workaround for Uniswap high gas fee problem! Anyone who wanted to mint a Non-fungible Token (NFT) on an Ethereum-based marketplace like Raible also suffers from high gas fees problem.

Polygon also aims to connect other Ethereum-based blockchain ecosystems under one unified protocol.


MATIC is an ERC-20 token that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. ERC-20 tokens reside on the Ethereum blockchain! A lot of familiar cryptocurrencies such as Enjin, Basic Attention Token (BAT), Tether (USDT) are ERC-20 tokens.

In Polygon, MATIC cryptocurrency serves 2 purposes. One is to pay fees on DApps that run on Polygon. The other purpose is to validate nodes.

Yes. MATIC is a Proof of Stake token to validate transactions on the Polygon blockchain.

As Polygon gets more adopted, demand for MATIC tokens should rise. More users calling smart contracts would lead to more MATIC tokens burning. Enticing more people to stake MATIC tokens. MATIC has a capped supply of 10 billion tokens.

Polygon Ecosystem

Polygon SDK (Beta)

Built with the programming language Golang. Polygon SDK would be a modular framework to build Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks.

Polygon SDK is compatible with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Ethereum developers can build their applications with familiar smart contract languages like Solidity (Ethereum Smart Contract language). Polygon SDK is also compatible with Ethereum-based DApps like MetaMask wallet, Etheruem libraries, etc. Developers don’t have to re-learn a new language and system to build on Polygon SDK.

Polygon PoS Chain (Live)

EVM compatible Ethereum side chain. Sidechains are layer-2 solution blockchains that run in parallel with the Mainchain (Ethereum blockchain). This diagram visualizes Sidechains:

sidechain diagram

Sidechain runs its own consensus mechanism separate from the Mainchain. Polygon PoS chain uses PoS consensus validators. Polygon calls it Ethereum — Matic Bridge. The same number of Ethereum tokens that leave the Ethereum blockchain is minted on the Polygon blockchain. Then at the final step, the Polygon token is burned on the Matic blockchain and released to the Ethereum blockchain.

Think of it as a transformation. You change Ethereum token to Matic network token, then at the end, it turns back to Ethereum. This is how the Polygon PoS chain works.

Polygon PoS Chain is also known as Stand-alone chains. The networks are in charge of their own security by their consensus mechanism. It offers high flexibility and transaction speed.

Polygon Plasma (Live)

Plasma exit mechanism provides increased security. Plasma has a 7-day challenge period. Users would have to wait for 7-day challenge period to complete. Their funds are locked during this period. Upon completion, the funds can be claimed back to Ethereum mainnet.

Polygon Plasma serves the same functionality as Polygon PoS Chain. However, it provides increased security due to the Plasma protocol. Polygon plasma is known as Secured chains. Sacrificing security for flexibility and speed. If you want faster transactions, go with the Polygon PoS chain, if security is more important then Polygon Plasma is the choice.

Polygon is going to implement these in the future:

  • zk Rollups
  • Optimistic Rollups
  • Stand-Alone Chains
  • Shared Security Chains
  • Polygon Avail

Some projects that use Polygon include:

Polygon is one of the many Ethereum scaling projects out there. Another notable example of the Ethereum scaling project is Arbitrum.

Ethereum is considered the first-runner of smart contract blockchain. As DApps, DEX, DAOs, and more gets popular, the influx of users using the Ethereum ecosystem will eventually increase.

Ethereum developers have taken into consideration and improve their scaling solution with the move of PoW to PoS. Is that enough?

Polygon and other layer-2 solution projects make Ethereum faster. Allowing mass adoption of smart contracts technology.

Polygon is also used to reduce the expensive Ethereum gas fees. Every NFT minter and buyer knows the pain of paying high gas fees for Ethereum ecosystem use cases. Is Polygon the solution? Or would the users move to Ethereum competitors like Tron, Binance Smart Chain for lower gas fees?

Read Polygon’s light paper, and visit their website if you want to learn more about it!

Repurposed content. Originally published at on August 15, 2021. A weekly newsletter that shares blockchain basics and blockchain projects.




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