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Introducing Polygon Nightfall Mainnet: Decentralized Private Transactions for Enterprise

Polygon Team
Polygon Team
May 17, 2022
Polygon Nightfall
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We’re in the early innings when it comes to enterprise needs for blockchains. Whether it’s supply chain management or marketplaces, the potential for secure business transactions on a public ledger has enormous implications.

That’s why we’re pleased to announce Polygon Nightfall, a blockchain solution that leverages cutting edge Optimistic-Zero Knowledge technology to give businesses an accessible blockchain network with the iron-clad privacy they need.

The good news: the Polygon Nightfall Mainnet Beta is live today.

As a joint collaboration between Polygon and professional services powerhouse EY, we’re confident the Nightfall solution will open up vast opportunities in Web3. Let’s dive in.

The problem so far

So far, enterprises that want to leverage blockchains have had to create permissioned or private blockchains which are closed, unaudited, and most importantly, not decentralized. A centralized solution reduces the benefits of using the blockchain in the first place.

However, if enterprises accordingly try to use public blockchains like Ethereum, gas fees get too high and prohibitive.

Polygon Nightfall uses an Optimistic-ZK hybrid approach, which solves several of these problems, starting with the issue of permissioned vs public networks.

Private vs. Public blockchains and Polygon Nightfall as the optimal approach 

In the near future, organizations will use blockchain for many activities: from the exchange of goods and services to carrying payments, from sharing data to enabling external auditing, from implementing traceability to certifying provenance.

And why blockchain? Because, by its very definition, it engenders trust and allows multiple parties to collaborate. But all that glitters is not gold, let’s see why.

The challenge with permissioned blockchain networks

Imagine you have a table with all the sales numbers for your business and includes sensitive data from your suppliers. If you need to work closely with a supplier, you must share the table for collaboration. This means you have to trust the supplier not to tamper with data. Plus, those who are not invited can’t verify that information is correct. 

Permissioned networks, the most widespread blockchain solutions for enterprises, are just like that: they rely on pre-existing trust among parties. Organizations can adjust data based on their permissions, and that reduces data immutability and erodes trust in the data.

The challenge with public blockchain networks

Imagine now that the table is public. Anybody can access it, review it and add to it. Do you feel comfortable that anybody, including your competitors, can read your sensitive sales data? Moreover, data truthfulness is guaranteed by volunteers that review any change for an expensive fee, which adds up.

Despite superior trust and collaboration options, the lack of privacy means public networks are still not widely adopted by enterprises.

The Polygon Nightfall approach

Imagine now the same public table but now every cell is hashed and protected by a key. When you add information, the contents of your update and your name are hidden, like in a vault. The transaction is fully verifiable without giving away the contents of the transaction, so you’re able to make updates, verify changes, all without giving away private information. 

This gives businesses the power for public networks that still maintain privacy and stay cost efficient. 

Solving two major pain points without sacrificing what matters 

Nightfall’s hybrid Optimistic-ZK rollup represents the power of zero-knowledge proofs and opens new possibilities for enterprises on web3. There are two key problems that are solved, all without sacrificing openness, immutability and security:

  • Lack of complete privacy and anonymity: Thanks to ZK technology, enterprises can benefit from complete anonymity of their transactions, while participating in a public network
  • High transaction costs of Ethereum: Thanks to Optimistic rollups, Nightfall offers the most efficient way to perform private business transactions on a public network (12k gas per tx)

Key Benefits: Credibility, Confidentiality, Efficiency 

The first benefit of Polygon Nightfall is Credibility. As a public trustless blockchain secured by Ethereum, Nightfall enables superior trust, transparency and credibility beyond any private or permissioned solution. Third parties feel comfortable that data is untampered and enterprises feel free to collaborate with partners, focusing on what they do better, business.

The second major benefit is Confidentiality: by removing one of the limits of public enterprise blockchains, i.e. the lack of privacy of transactions, enterprises enjoy the comfort of privacy without compromising collaboration, yet hiding their business from competitors and untrusted sources. Thanks to the newest advancements of ZK technology, sender, beneficiary and transaction value of any deposit, withdrawal and transfer are hidden by third parties while stored and secured on chain. 

The third and most relevant benefit for enterprises is Efficiency: Nightfall offers predictable costs and settlement times. Thanks to Optimistic rollups, our solution significantly reduces the costs of operating a public blockchain secured by Ethereum. Moreover, the presence of liquidity pools enables users to liquidate their transactions at any moment for a small fee, instead of waiting for the 7 canonical settlement days.

Empower Supply-chains, NFT Marketplaces, and more

Nightfall is a very powerful and versatile tool for a wide variety of enterprises that value private blockchain solutions. Across all industries and business verticals, from pharma to logistics, from food & beverage companies to high-value and commodity providers, we identified supply chain as the most promising application domain for Nightfall.

In fact, we aim at disrupting the $50 Trillion global supply chain industry.

A major use case for Nightfall is Supply Chain Orchestration, where multiple entities in a supply chain collaborate and coordinate using a decentralized and private payment network. After tokenization, single assets and production batches can be exchanged, paid, tracked and traced across the world, with the security of Ethereum and the efficiency and privacy offered by Optimistic and ZK rollups. 

More specifically, Nightfall can empower supply chain applications with:

  • Traceability
  • Proof of authenticity
  • Provenance guarantee
  • Efficient data reconciliation
  • Affordable, secure payments with fast settlement

We have also identified Private NFT Marketplaces as a promising application for Nightfall. In the near future we will be able to implement the private exchange of tokenized assets (NFTs) for ERC20 tokens, enabling businesses to tokenize physical assets (e.g. inventory), exchanging them as NFTs. 

Nightfall can also be used as a Blockchain Mixer and anonymizer so that it could be impossible to trace a withdrawal to a deposit.

When is Nightfall launching?

We’re excited to share the vision of Nightfall and to announce that its first limited release, a Mainnet beta, is coming in May! The beta, still unaudited, will be restricted by wallet amount and number of validators, so that you can try it and get comfortable with it before its final release. 

In the upcoming months, we will perform a thorough audit, add more validators, support validators’ payments in $MATIC, complete the SDK and a dedicated block explorer and ultimately remove network limitations before the Mainnet launch targeting Q3/Q4. Later, we plan to transition Nightfall into Polygon DAO for maximum decentralization.

We’ll be sharing more education, content, and tech deep-dives over the course of the coming months, and look forward to you giving it a try in beta. Stay tuned!

If you want to learn more about Nightfall, or just want to ask us a question directly, we would love to hear from you. Check out our repository, join our Discord server, or email us at [email protected].

Let’s bring the world to Ethereum!

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