Back in 2018, not long after the Bitcoin crash, many casual crypto enthusiasts and nocoiners were quick to write off the potential the ecosystem had. Many saw the crash as the time to liquidate and back off from the crypto space. Ethereum, then three years old, was still plagued with scalability issues, along with slow transactions with a low transaction throughput. While some blockchains attempted to solve the scalability issues, and boasted a high throughput back then, they also had to severely compromise on decentralization, something which is one of the most important benefits of blockchain technology.
The Reserve Bank of India issued the infamous ban, in April 2018, suspending banks from dealing with cryptocurrencies, creating a limbo in the Indian ecosystem. This made it extremely surprising when Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun came up with a whitepaper for what was then called the Matic Network shortly after the ban, in May 2018.
2018 – Matic’s Inception
When Jaynti – then a Data Scientist from Housing.com, Sandeep Nailwal – a Blockchain Expert, and Anurag Arjun, former AVP, Product Management at IRIS Business Services Limited, came up with Matic, little did the world realize that they were about to witness something revolutionary. The Matic Network, a Bangalore-based startup, aimed to solve the “scalability and usability issues, while not compromising on decentralization”.
They intended to leverage the existing developer ecosystem, providing us with a side-chain scaling solution for existing dApps. Initially, this Ethereum based blockchain went live on the Kovan Testnet, allowing near-instant transfers, with a high transaction throughput and increased scalability. 2018 had a heavy focus on the inception of something revolutionary.
Salient Features of the Matic Network / Polygon
- Near Instant Transactions: Achieved by utilizing a PoS layer to validate the blocks, and publish periodic Merkle roots directly on the Ethereum Mainchain. This ensures transaction times of <2 seconds.
- Low Transaction Throughput: By utilizing a separate Block producer layer to produce blocks, The Matic Network solves the lag between the production of adjacent blocks on public blockchains like Ethereum.
- Scalability: Theoretically, platforms could use multiple sidechains and process millions of transactions per second. More side chains are added horizontally, to increase scalability even further.
- Low Fidelity PoS: The primary layer may choose to store only blocks of the Matic chain from the previous checkpoint to the next checkpoint. This enables low fidelity PoS nodes (inexpensive hardware), with future plans to enable mining on mobile devices as well.
- Interoperable: The Matic Network makes use of a state-based architecture on an Ethereum Virtual Machine. Any valid Ethereum address is a valid Matic address, and hence, the receiver need not be on the Matic network to receive payment.
- Low Transaction Fees: Achieves economies of scale by making a large number of transaction on the Block Producer Layer
- Improved User Experience: The Matic Network intended to build a ubiquitous mobile/browser app, ensuring improved user interactions on dApps.
In short, along with solving the scalability issues for dApps in the Ethereum ecosystem, Matic also functions as a one-stop DeFi platform, with the intention of increasing blockchain adoption rates.
2019: Marketing & Community Building
If 2018 was focused on introducing the platform to the world, 2019 was focused on growth and marketing. Their IEO launch, as part of the Binance Launchpad program, would definitely be their marquee event.
Forging a strategic partnership with Binance, the Matic network was able to raise over $5 Million Dollars, which was the best performing IEO in the industry back then. A total of 1.9 Billion (19% of the total supply) MATIC tokens were listed on sale in Binance, with each of the winning tickets (16,666 in total) being allocated a maximum of 114,004.56 (300 USD).
They also entered into a strategic alliance with Coinbase Ventures, who invested in the Matic Network in their seed round. Matic utilized this investment to help realize their vision of achieving scale for dApps. They integrated the Coinbase Wallet, alongside the existing Matic Wallet, ensuring additional security and accessibility to the Matic network.
This enabled users to use dApps built on Matic, directly from their Coinbase wallet, if they chose to do so. Along with this, they also integrated stablecoins like USDC and DAI to address volatility and provide stable payment rails.
While the investments did hog the limelight, it should in no way undermine the progress the Matic Network made in 2019. During early March, they announced a developer support program, which will provide teams building on Matic with support grants, technical guidance, security audit, marketing and promotion, investor connections, and access to Matic sponsored hackathons (which has since then become a mainstay since it was initially announced). They allocated a sum of 500,000 USD to fund grants for dApps, with the sole intention of bringing Ethereum to the public attention.
They had organized over 50 hackathons to assist the “BUIDLers of Web 3.0” and make a significant impact in the “global decentralized movement”. They’ve continued to organize hackathons globally (with primary focus in India), providing innovators a range of bounty as an incentive to dabble with the blockchain. Events like Inout, ETHWaterloo and ETHIndia were particularly successful in 2019.
Polygon Tech in 2019
The product became much more polished, and evolved from the proof of concept phase in 2019. They officially introduced the Matic Wallet in April 27th, with native support for Plasma Chains. With an expanded team of 10+ developers, the team managed to not only deliver the Testnet earlier than expected, they were also able to deliver on alpha and beta versions of the mainnet within September of 2019!
Over the year 2019, 40+ dApps integrate with the Matic Network, making it the most adopted Layer 2 solution. In fact, the rate of adoption was so staggering that they were ranked the top 15 blockchain platforms in terms of adoption. Some famous dApps that integrated with Matic in 2019 includes Decentraland, Harmony, Incento and BetProtocol among others.
Overall, Polygan has seen widespread adoption with 250+ DAapps, ~20M+ txns and ~390K unique wallet users. Here’s the list of all DApps on Polygon. Well known DeFi dapps include Aave (5bn+ USD market cap), Sushi, Curve. Most of prediction markets like Polymarket, PlotX and many others
For Polygon, the target customers are DApp developers. If you’re an Ethereum Developer, you’re already a Polygon developer and can leverage Polygon’s fast and secure transactions for your DApp. Currently averqging 1.2 Million transactions per day, the network is within striking distance of Ethereum’s numbers of 1.4 million transactions per day! Meanwhile, $1.2 billion MATIC tokens are being staked and securing the network, with $5 billion in TVL locked.
The Growth of the Matic Community
Adoption from developers is only one side of the coin, as without community support, Matic would not be where they are now. With an elite team of Matic Mitra (global project ambassadors), they successfully spread awareness across countries. This saw immense success, as witnessed by a massive 2200% increase in twitter followers, and 600% increase in Telegram followers.
2020 – Product Release
Though 2020 will always be remembered for the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the cryptocurrency ecosystem saw a massive surge in popularity with the general public finally seeing the inherent faults with centralized systems. Matic, entering into its second year, was able to launch the official mainnet, and welcomed a whopping 77 new dApps into the Matic ecosystem.
In fact, Matic maintained it’s spot as the most widely adopted Layer 2 platform in the industry. With moves into the DeFi space, NFTs, gaming and other projects, adoption has really snowballed in 2019. Notably, AMM DEX by WazirX, EasyFi, OroPocket, Decentraland, Terra Virtua, TradeStars, NIFTEX, DiTo are few of the popular dApps that integrated with the Matic network.
Though stablecoins were announced to be supported back in 2019 (announced along with their partnership with Coinbase ventures), the support officially made its way to the mainnet along with the product launch in 2020. USDT, USDC and DAI are available to be utilized by users of the Matic network to promote stability.
The Hackathons continued to be a mainstay through 2020. They doubled the number of Hackathons they conducted, to over a 100 during the course of the year, by partnering with DevFolio. They doubled down (quite literally) on their motive to incentivize the global talent to dabble with blockchain, with a particular focus on India.
They continued their support for up and coming developers working on Ethereum. The initial $500k fund was expanded to over $2 Million. Along with this, they also offered an incentive program that offers monthly, reliable benefits. This is to ensure that teams that are in need of a reliable and predictable source of cashflow, during the course of initial stages of the app lifecycle, before they reach a point of sustainable growth.
Dubbed the Build-n-Earn program, the Matic network assisted 36 dApps in 2020, helping them raise over $105,000. Along with this, they also introduced a “Multi-million dollar DeFi Incubator Program”. Along with financial assistance, they also helped DeFi teams to utilize the Matic Layer 2 solution by givingtem access to a wide range of developer tooling, along with Matic ecosystem tokens.
Matic stayed true to their objective of improving user experience, and formed 16 strategic partnerships with industry players like Chainlink, Ren Protocol, LTO Network, Ankr, Razor and Moonpay. The community continued to grow through 2020, with a 68.7k Twitter following and 41.5k Telegram members. The global awareness of the Matic ecosystem continued to grow, and Matic launched 14 regional Telegram communities.
2021: The Polygon Story So Far
In 2021, Matic rebranded to Polygon, reportedly to pursue it’s motive of being “Polkadot on Ethereum”. The founders of Matic, joined by Mihailo Bjelic (Serbian Information Systems Engineer) founded Polygon. Though the Polkadot on Ethereum is not the official tagline, the community found it easier to comprehend and was thus popularized. However, with the new Polygon SDK (Software Development Kit), Polygon now allows developers to build dApps on an “Ethereum-anchored infrastructure, without having to choose any technology in particular”
Although only four months have passed since the inception of 2021, Polygon’s focus is becoming extremely clear – ecosystem growth. With the increased number of players in the Polygon ecosystem, it is fair to categorise the different players into three different categories.
- Dev Tooling
- Dev Tooling
- Bountyblok: Gamification tools for Blockchain, NFT, and Brands
- OpenGSN: Gas Station Network assists in minimizing onboarding friction for dApps. ENables users to interact with Ethereum contracts without ETH.
- Hardhat: Ethereum Development Environment
- MathWallet: Crypto wallet with over 1 Million users, supporting over 60 blockchains
- MetaMask: Crypto wallet; Gateway to dApps over 5 Million users
- Network Arkane: Multi Blockchain wallet, with access to NFT markets and APIs.
- Razor Network: A secured, permissionless, decentralized and a Multichain Oracle Network
- ProvableThings: World’s most widely adopted data-transport-layer.
- BandProtocol: Scalable cross-chain decentralized Oracle.
If you’d told us in April of 2018, that a Bangalore-based startup would seriously make a mark in the blockchain space, we’d ask for a sip of the tea you’d been drinking. Amidst regulatory concerns which were enough to make several startups pack-up or transfer abroad, Polygon has had one heck of a journey to be where they are today.
With the 1-year anniversary of the Mainnet launch (May 31) just around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to put up a post on Polygon’s journey so far, and take this opportunity to congratulate the team on their success till date. The crypto space is showing no signs of slowing down, and neither does Polygon.
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Hitesh Malviya is the Founder of ItsBlockchain. He is one of the most early adopters of blockchain & cryptocurrency enthusiast in India. After being into space for a few years, he started IBC in 2016 to help other early adopters learn about the technology.
Before IBC, Hitesh has founded 4 companies in the cyber security & IT space.
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