Blockchain technology is changing the way we approach data and value transfer, with new products and services introduced every day. However, it is always important to go back to the “foundational” networks that power the said products and services. Today’s pick is Polygon and Polkadot.

Polygon, formerly Matic Network, is a respected platform known for its Layer2 scaling solutions for Ethereum. On the other side, we have Polkadot, a multi-chain platform that stands out for its ability to allow different blockchains to interoperate. These platforms offer not only digital currencies but also complex ecosystems. This article aims to shed light on Polygon and Polkadot by clearly comparing their features, structures, and tokens.

What is Polkadot (DOT)

Polkadot was developed by Web3 Foundation, with Dr. Gavin Wood, one of Ethereum's co-founders. The Web3 foundation was established by Dr. Wood himself and funds research and development teams focused on the technology stack. 

Key features:

  • Interoperability: Polkadot’s core chain, known as the Relay Chain and responsible for coordinating the system, facilitates the exchange of any form of data or asset across diverse blockchains, extending beyond just tokens. This allows Polkadot to interoperate with a wide variety of blockchains in its network.
  • Scalability:  Polkadot enhances scalability by distributing transactions across multiple parallel chains, known as parachains. This allows transactions to be processed simultaneously, significantly increasing the capacity of the network. This greatly improves scalability, creating the right conditions for increased adoption and future growth.
  • Customizability: Polkadot allows projects to create their own custom blockchains while utilizing the security of the Polkadot network. Each parachain can be tailored to serve specific use cases, optimizing performance and functionality for different applications. 

The idea of Polkadot having the right environment for increased adoption is reinforced by the amount of developer contributions. In March 2023, Polkadot recorded 19,090 such contributions on GitHub repositories, a record for a single month for any network.

What is Polygon (POL)

Polygon emerged as a response to the scalability and usability issues of Ethereum. Originally known as Matic Network, Polygon was co-founded by Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun. It seeks to transform Ethereum into a multi-chain system, akin to the internet of blockchains. 

Key Features:

  • Scalability: Polygon provides a scalable platform for dApp development by implementing advanced protocols and scaling techniques to reduce network congestion and increase transaction throughput. 
  • Flexibility: Polygon provides a solution to overcome the limitations of the Ethereum network, enabling fast and low-cost transactions, and making it an attractive option for dApps and users.
  • Interoperability: Polygon supports a multi-chain Ethereum ecosystem, facilitating interconnectivity between various networks. It serves as a protocol and framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks, allowing them to communicate and interact with each other. 

Beyond the Surface: Polygon and Polkadot’s Inner Technology

Polkadot operates on a consensus algorithm known as Nominated Proof-of-Stake (NPoS), which is responsible for block validation and network security. The selection of validators for block production and transaction confirmation is carried out by DOT token holders. 

The Polkadot network includes parachains, which are independent blockchains that can have their own tokens and be tailored for specific use cases. These parachains connect to the Relay Chain and utilize its security and consensus mechanism.

The communication between parachains and the Relay Chain is facilitated by Cross-Chain Messaging (XCM), which allows for the smooth transfer of any type of data or asset. 

Polkadot also includes bridges, which are special types of parachains that connect Polkadot with external blockchains like Ethereum or Bitcoin, enabling these networks to communicate and share information. 

In contrast, the Polygon ecosystem offers two chains, each serving a unique purpose but both contributing to the scaling mission of the ecosystem.

Polygon PoS

Polygon PoS is a part of the Ethereum scaling ecosystem that utilizes the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. It offers compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and provides an optimal user experience. 

Polygon PoS has become a popular choice for developers looking to build decentralized applications (DApps) due to its low transaction fees and high-performance capabilities. The network’s appeal is evident in the number of DApps, equating to tens of thousands, that have been developed on it.

The platform processes millions of transactions daily, highlighting the significant activity and user engagement. Additionally, Polygon PoS has secured assets valued at $5 billion, underscoring the trust and confidence that users and developers place in the platform.

Polygon zkEVM

Polygon zkEVM is a zero-knowledge rollup (ZK-rollup) that offers equivalence with EVM which means that the network can perform functions that are identical to those of the Ethereum network.

Just like Polygon PoS, Polygon zkEVM provides fast transactions at almost zero gas cost. This is achieved by reducing the amount of data that needs to be posted to the blockchain. Instead of posting each transaction individually, ZK-rollup operators submit a summary of the changes required to represent all the transactions in a batch. 

The mainnet beta for this network is live, marking a significant step in Ethereum scaling. It maintains the security of Ethereum while providing scalability, making it a preferred choice for developers who prioritize both.

As of February 2024, the Polygon zkEVM network has a cumulative number of wallets of 516,861 and a cumulative number of contracts deployed of 30,103.

Polygon Miden

Polygon Miden is a decentralized rollup in the crypto space, designed with a focus on private data storage and local transaction execution. The mainnet for this network is not live yet.

The features of Polygon Miden are designed to elevate user experience and security. One such feature is client-side proving, which empowers users to execute transactions on their own devices and generate proofs independently. This feature puts control in the hands of the users and reduces reliance on third parties.

Another feature is parallel transaction execution. This allows for multiple transactions that don’t depend on each other to be processed at the same time, increasing the efficiency of the network.

Privacy is another key aspect of Polygon Miden. It provides users with the ability to conduct private transactions, adding an extra layer of security. Additionally, it supports privacy-preserving smart contracts, which can be used to create applications that protect user data.

The Power Behind Polygon and Polkadot Tokens

The Polygon Ecosystem Token, known as POL, is an advanced version of the MATIC token, bringing new capabilities and security measures to the ecosystem. Validators can restake their tokens, which allows them to secure other chains within the Polygon ecosystem. This enhances the overall security and scalability of the ecosystem.

POL plays a vital role, in ensuring adaptability and responsiveness to changing conditions by actively involving the community in governance. It also secures the underlying smart contracts which is paramount for maintaining a stable environment.

The DOT token, the native asset of the Polkadot network, performs three specific roles: governance, staking, and bonding. DOT holders have full control over the network, including managing events such as protocol upgrades and fixes. To add new parachains to the protocol users have to lock up their DOT tokens and to remove outdated parachains the locked tokens have to be also removed. 

While the design of DOT is aimed at allowing the transferal of data between blockchains, POL distinguishes itself by giving validators the power to secure multiple chains while earning separate rewards on each one. However, it’s important to note that DOT also performs secondary functions as a transferable token. For instance, DOT stored in the Treasury can be allocated to teams that are working on projects relevant to the Polkadot network.

Final Thoughts

Polkadot and Polygon perfectly illustrate the diversity and potential of blockchain technology, highlighted by their evolving ecosystems. While both strive for scalability, each network does so in its own unique way, focusing on different aspects. Each offers a different approach not only to scalability but also to interoperability and blockchain utility, revealing the crucial technological details that can make all the difference.

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Tom F.

Tom is one of the content managers here at Cryptology. While still fresh in his career he has been able to firmly place himself within the world of crypto and content creation, producing work for a number of publications including and The Times of Malta newspaper.