What is Polygon (MATIC)? A Simple as an ABC Guide

Polygon, formerly known as the Matic network, is a Layer-2 scaling solution designed to address the bottlenecks facing the Ethereum mainnet. Polygon is one of the solutions seeking to provide cheaper transaction fees and scale throughput on Ethereum, using side chains to reroute transactions outside of its primary network. 

Ethereum’s Scalability Need and Polygon’s Rise

Blockchain scaling solutions are protocols or applications that operate alongside leading chain Ethereum. These protocols handle transactions off the chain to reduce load and improve speed on the main network. In the case of Polygon MATIC, the protocol is designed to run parallel to Ethereum to enable. This allows users to access various applications exclusively available on the Ethereum network. 

As you may already know, Ethereum is a smart contract-enabled network and home to various decentralized applications (dApps) because of its vast tool for developers and users. With increased interest in crypto, demand for dApps skyrocketed.

The network was frequently clogged and became expensive for everyone, including users and developers. Aside from the gas fee explosion, its throughput was significantly downgraded, resulting in slow processing time. 

The crazy transaction fees and scalability challenges of the Layer-1 blockchain introduced scaling solutions such as Polygon

Before we dive further, here is a list of things you will learn in this Polygon beginner’s guide

A Brief History of Polygon (MATIC)

Polygon, formerly known as the Matic Network, was created by a team of Indian software developers Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun in October 2017. 

The network describes itself as “Ethereum’s internet of blockchains” that can seamlessly process transactions with just a fraction of fees while integrating other tools to improve its host ecosystem. 

At launch, the protocol was designed as a scaling solution that attracted multiple users to the Ethereum blockchain, expanding its use cases by bypassing its Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism and establishing itself as the only Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocol at the time. With the help of Polygon MATIC, developers could now tap into the Ethereum mainnet to deploy successful applications. 

In February 2021, the network officially rebranded as Polygon and became a multi-purpose ecosystem that unlocked interoperability among other blockchains.

Polygon also expanded its use cases and became a layer where developers can create dApps and launch blockchains that are compatible with the Ethereum protocol through the use of Polygon’s Software Development Kit (SDK). 

It also allows other Ethereum-based decentralized applications to transfer assets such as tokens and information using its sidechain. In addition, the protocol connects all the blockchains deployed on its network, offering them direct access to Ethereum to inherit its functionalities. 

How Does Polygon (MATIC) Work? 

Instead of relying on Proof-of-Work, the primary consensus architecture on the Ethereum blockchain, the MATIC network uses a simplified public mechanism known as Proof-of-Stake (PoS) that relies heavily on validators to create and process blocks. 

Polygon MATIC has also adopted similar mechanisms in most PoS blockchains regarding network nodes, governance, and staking, which protects its protocol from malicious attacks. 

Polygon Validators

A blockchain validator is a person or group of persons that regulates the integrity of a network by helping to verify and create new blocks on the platform before they can be processed and permanently stored in the public ledger. 

In the case of Polygon MATIC, the PoS algorithm randomly selects nodes to verify and process transactions. The selection frequency is based on the number of tokens delegated to the validator by users. The PoS system rewards users with MATIC, the network’s native cryptocurrency. There are around 100 validators on the Polygon Network at the time of writing.

(Polygon Staking Statistics) August 4. 2022

Anyone can become a validator on Polygon by running a full node and locking up assets to support the protocol. However, MATIC Polygon requires validators to have a system with at least 16-32GB of memory, 4-8 core CPU, and a minimum of 650GB USSD specifications. 

The network also rewards validators annually in the form of incentives for helping to maintain its ecosystem. Validators can also set up commissions to accept delegations to their nodes and earn rewards from every confirmed block. 

However, if the network detects malicious actions or other anomalies from the blockchain verifiers, their rewards will be slashed as punishment. 

The Polygon Bridge

Like most blockchain-based networks, Polygon also has a bridge protocol.  

The Polygon Bridge is a smart contract and trustless cross-chain channel that connects Ethereum to Polygon MATIC. It allows users to transfer ERC-compatible assets, including non-fungible tokens, from the Ethereum mainnet to Polygon’s side chains. 

Users can also move applications between the two ecosystems. However, to be able to import dApps from Ethereum and access other applications or blockchains based on Polygon, users will have to pay a one-time fee in ETH, Ethereum’s native coin that powers the ecosystem.

The bridge uses two consensus architectures: the Proof-of-Stake and the Plasma Bridge. The PoS Bridge supports the transfers of ETH and most ERC compatible tokens. At the same time, the Plasma Bridge allows the transfer of Polygon’s native token, MATIC, and just a few selected ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens. 

Polygon Supernets

In addition to its primary PoS network, Polygon scales through the use of “Supernets.” The idea with “Supernets” is to allow developers to launch application-specific chains for various use cases. These chains could be dedicated to gaming, metaverse, DeFi, or other Web3 use cases. The result is less demand for block space on the primary Polygon PoS network and increased flexibility for developers.

Polygon (MATIC) Tokenomics Overview 

The Matic network retained the ticker symbol MATIC even after rebranding as Polygon. MATIC is an ERC-20 compatible token that controls the entire Polygon ecosystem.

The cryptocurrency serves as both a utility and governance token. Holders use it to pay for transaction fees, stake in pools, or vote for proposals on upgrades and future development of the protocol. 

MATIC has a maximum supply of 10 billion tokens with a current circulating supply of 8 billion. In April 2019, the protocol conducted its initial exchange offering (IEO) on Binance. Around 19% of the MATIC supply was sold during the sales at the rate of $0.00263 per token.

After that, Polygon MATIC also conducted two separate funding rounds and sold 2.09% and 1.71% of the token’s total supply, respectively. 

In 2021, after the rebranding that transitioned the protocol to more than just a scaling solution, the price of its tokens surged, and Polygon MATIC made its way to one of the top 20 cryptocurrencies in the world as of February 2022.

MATIC is currently trading around $0.9 with a market capitalization of $7.2 billion at the time of writing. 

Polygon MATIC Supply Distribution
  • Private sale (seed round + early supporters): 3.8%
  • Launchpad: 19%
  • Team: 16%
  • Advisors: 4%
  • Staking Rewards: 12%
  • Foundation: 21.86%
  • Ecosystem: 23.33%

Polygon has recently adopted an EIP-1559 mechanism that allows the network to burn tokens accumulated from transaction fees periodically. So far, MATIC Polygon has permanently destroyed more than 500k MATIC tokens. 

Polygon MATIC Competitors 

The advent of Polygon MATIC as a scaling solution created a new wave of projects that aims to provide infrastructure to improve the scalability, security, decentralization, and other complexities of the Layer-1 blockchains. These projects shifted their focus away from financial innovations and concentrated more on utility purposes to power the development of other applications. 

Here are some of the top competitors for MATIC Polygon. 

  • Arbitrum

Arbitrum is an Ethereum scaling solution created by OffChain Labs in May 2021 to speed up Ethereum transactions. The protocol uses a technology known as Optimistic Rollup to penetrate its host’s ecosystem while acting as a gateway by passing information between smart contracts on the Ethereum mainnet to its sidechain. 

Optimistic rollup allows Arbitrum to process transactions by moving the transaction requests placed in its chain’s inbox to the Ethereum main chain before execution.

Unlike the MATIC Polygon, which processes 7000 transactions per second (TPS), Arbitrum executes 40,000 TPS at a fraction of the cost. The network also supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), allowing software developers to launch DeFi applications directly on its chain without modifications to suit its host compatibility. It also provides developers with other tools and infrastructure to create applications directly on the platform. 

The Arbitrum DeFi ecosystem boasts around $800 million in TVL at the time of writing, with projects such as SushiSwap, GMX, Curve (CRV), and Synapse (SYN) dominating rankings.

  • Immutable X

Immutable X is one of the latest Ethereum scaling solutions aiming to improve the host ecosystem’s scalability and speed. 

Like the MATIC Polygon, the network runs alongside its mainnet primarily focused on games and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The protocol provides instant trade confirmation with nearly zero gas fees for minting and trading NFTs.

Immutable X allows users to trade or create tokenized assets without compromising security. The protocol uses an engine known as Zero-Knowledge Rollup to attain scalability and can process around 9,000 TPS. 

Gas fees are paid with its native token called IMX, an ERC-20 compatible token that serves as a governance and utility token. 

  • Loopring

Loopring is yet another Layer-2 protocol that is a Polygon competitor. The protocol prides itself on being “an open-source, audited, and non-custodial exchange protocol.” With Loopring, users can build DeFi applications using zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs).

ZKPs enhance privacy and security in crypto by giving users total control of their assets. It also allows for faster throughput, which according to Loopring, means around 2025 transactions per second (TPS). Loopring protocol is governed by its utility token, dubbed LRC, to fuel all the activities in its ecosystem. 

  • Polkadot

Polkadot is a cross-chain protocol designed to allow interoperability between blockchains. The network promotes interactions between various types of assets and data, including applications from one blockchain to another. It facilitates cryptocurrency adoption by connecting users to multiple blockchains without losing their investments. For instance, users can move funds from Bitcoin to the Ethereum blockchain without intermediaries. 

The network was created by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, a software developer with deep knowledge of cryptocurrencies. Polkadot uses the main chain called the “relay chain” alongside its parallel chains (parachains) created by users. It also uses a connecting model (bridge) that connects to other blockchains. 

Developers built the protocol to scale throughput without compromising security and decentralization, achieved through parachains that handle some of its transactions outside the mainnet.

Like most crypto projects, Polkadot also has a native coin called DOT that serves as a governance and utility token.

  • SKALE Network

SKALE network is a Layer-2 solution based on the Ethereum blockchain. The project seeks to facilitate high throughput with cheap gas fees, low latency, and a cost-effective environment for developing dApps. 

The protocol uses elastic side chains that offer developers opportunities to create highly scalable and interoperable blockchains and apps compatible with the Ethereum network. However, the dApp creators must subscribe to this service every month. 

The network describes itself as “an Ethereum-compatible network with a leaderless consensus designed to run on an uncapped number of independent nodes.”  

The protocol migrates the development of apps outside its mainchain to a specialized side chain built beside its network, allowing developers to navigate congestion on the Ethereum network. 

How to Use MATIC Polygon (Step-by-step)

Polygon Matic allows users to do almost everything done with the Ethereum blockchain. For instance, developers and users can create new blockchains, interact with dApps, and mint non-fungible tokens at a lesser cost. 

However, users are expected to import the network on MetaMask to interact with the ecosystem easily. This wallet address is a gateway that offers users direct access to the Polygon MATIC network.

MetaMask is available either as a web extension or mobile application suitable for iOS and Android users. However, you will need to download and install it if it’s not already on your device. After that, create an account and keep your secret or seed phrase away from third parties. 

Next is to add MATIC Polygon to Metamask. 

Go to settings, click on Networks and then Add Network. Enter the following details: 

Network Name: Polygon

New RPC URL: https://polygon-rpc.com/

Chain ID: 137

Currency Symbol: MATIC

Block Explorer URL: https://polygonscan.com/

After successfully launching the network, you can store your tokens, NFTs, and other digital collectibles compatible with Polygon MATIC. Similarly, you can interact with all the applications built on the chain. 

Top Projects on Polygon Network 

Polygon MATIC is one of the first projects built on the Ethereum blockchain and is home to more than 19,000 decentralized applications. The protocol is entirely compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), allowing users to migrate their dApps from Ethereum. 

The Polygon DeFi ecosystem currently boasts over $1.8 billion in the total value of locked (TVL) assets, down from the over $10 billion reported in mid-2021. The network is also home to several NFT and gaming projects.

(Polygon DeFi TVL)

(Polygon DeFi TVL)

Here are some of the projects built on Polygon MATIC:

  • QuickSwap

QuickSwap is a fork of popular decentralized exchange (DEX) Uniswap that offers users the ability to trade ERC-20 tokens. The exchange provides the same functionalities as that of Uniswap, which is based on the Ethereum network. It uses the Automated Market Maker (AMM) model to create liquidity pools. 

QuickSwap was developed by Nick Mudge and Sameep Singhania with no order books, which allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly from the liquidity pools. 

The DEX has a native token called QUICK that functions as a governance and utility token. QUICK can be staked on the pools to earn a portion of the transaction fees paid by traders.

  • MAI Finance 

MAI Finance is the first stablecoin native of Polygon, allowing users to borrow against their crypto assets with zero interest. 

Also referred to as QiDao Protocol, MAI Finance is an open-source and non-custodial platform for extracting value from crypto assets. Users can deposit a portion of their tokens in exchange for its algorithmic stablecoin, MAI, by paying a fraction of the gas fee. 

For instance, you can deposit 100 BTC in the protocol and receive the equivalent amount in stables without selling your bitcoins. 

  • Augur 

Augur is a decentralized oracle and a peer-to-peer network for market predictions. The protocol formerly ran on the Ethereum network before it migrated to MATIC Polygon, joining other major DeFi projects on the platform. 

Launched in 2014 by a team of developers including Jack Peterson, Joey Krug, and Jeremy Gardner, the platform functions similarly to exchanges. Instead of trading cryptocurrencies, users create and predict the outcome of events to get rewarded with their native crypto, dubbed REP. 

The transaction fees generated from the protocol are distributed among the market creators and REP holders who report and share the outcome of events. 

How to Stake Polygon Matic (Step-by-step)

Staking in crypto is a method most PoS blockchains use to allow users to commit a portion of their assets to validators. These assets are used to secure the network while creating new blocks. Users receive new tokens by staking Polygon (MATIC). 

Here’s how to stake MATIC step by step:

  • Purchase MATIC tokens from Binance or any other centralized exchange.
  • Choose to withdraw the tokens using the native Polygon network.
  • Enter your Polygon address (available on your wallet) and complete the withdrawal.
  • Alternatively, you can bridge MATIC assets from Ethereum to Polygon using the bridge protocol.
  • Once the deposit arrives, go to Polygon Web Portal and log in using your preferred wallet.
  • Select the address that holds the tokens you wish to stake.
  • Next, go to the list of validators and choose the one you like.
  • Select the number of tokens to delegate and complete the transaction.

Once the transaction is confirmed, you have staked your MATIC tokens successfully!

The other way you can stake Polygon MATIC is through an exchange Binance. Go to the Binance website, download their app, open an account, and complete the verification process. Fund your wallet with MATIC and go to Binance Earn. Look for the token using the Locked Staking search button, then select the amount and confirm. 

How to Buy MATIC on Polygon Network 

As noted earlier, you can buy MATIC cryptocurrency from many exchanges, including Binance, FTX, and Coinbase, and you are only required to set up an account.

Once purchased, you can choose to withdraw the assets through the native Polygon Network to your non-custodial wallets like Metamask or Trust Wallet. If you decide on Metamask, remember to manually add the Polygon MATIC network (using the guide provided earlier.)

Users can also buy MATIC on Polygon Network through decentralized exchanges like SushiSwap, and Uniswap, among others. These applications allow experienced traders to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with no limitations. 

In the case of Uniswap, users can obtain MATIC using wrapped Ethereum (wETH), which allows people to trade ERC-20 tokens on DEXs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Polygon MATIC a Good Investment?

Crypto assets are risky investments and are inherently volatile irrespective of the type of token purchased, and the Polygon MATIC is no exception. 

However, some investors believe that MATIC is a good investment because of its numerous use cases, large ecosystem, and wide adoption of the network, coupled with significant industry players’ investments in Polygon.

As a rule of thumb, always conduct proper research before making investment decisions. A good business strategy is also a bonus as it can help determine whether to engage in long-term or short-term investments. 

Can Polygon MATIC Reach $1000?

Probably not. For one thing, MATIC’s 10 billion token supply means that the asset will reach a market capitalization of $1 duodecillion if it ever hits the $1000 per token price.

For some context, the entire cryptocurrency market cap is just $1 trillion (999 times less). Hence, the protocol would have to significantly lower its token supply if MATIC ever reaches $1000. Of course, this does not mean that the price of MATIC will not grow from its current price of $0.9 if the protocol continues to expand its use cases.

Meanwhile, experts believe that Polygon’s relevance may begin to dwindle if the Ethereum mainnet migrates to a PoS system, achieves higher scalability, and has less need for layer-2 solutions.