Aztec’s New Hybrid ZK Rollup Is Focused on Privacy and Compliance

A roadmap to deliver the hybrid ZK rollup is in motion

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3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Aztec Labs is creating a hybrid zero-knowledge rollup designed to execute smart contracts in a private, trustless and scalable manner. 

Developers built the Ethereum blockchain to optimize public consensus at the cost of native privacy, and privacy solutions often do not support a complicated ecosystem of decentralized applications.

Aztec’s hybrid zero-knowledge (ZK) rollup solution is aimed at solving this problem. In an interview with Blockworks, Joe Andrews, the head of product at Aztec Protocol, said that  “we’re trying to build the privacy layer that we wish had existed when we set out all those years ago to put corporate debt onto Ethereum…the exciting part is, we think we can now actually do it.”

Aztec intends to combine private and public execution in one single ZK rollup. This is one of the fundamental differences between it and other Ethereum ZK rollups, Andrews notes.

“I think of Ethereum or other rollups in a way that is like — here’s my transaction request, please do this off-chain and create a proof that you’ve done it correctly, on Aztec, it’s here is the proof that I’ve done a transaction, please include this in your next rollup of transactions,” Andrews said.

This means that an encrypted transaction is happening solely on a user’s device, unlike other ZK rollups today, he said.

In practice, the use cases of this type of hybrid zkRollup could be used to enable confidentiality in various dapps — not just privacy apps, Zachary Williamson, the chief technology officer at Aztec Protocol, told Blockworks. 

“What it does is it expands the design space of what you can build…you can build applications where the goal really isn’t just privacy, but requires information hiding to do what you need to do,” Williamson said.

Gaming could be one of these things, alongside private voting in DAOs or executing private trades on public automated market makers (AMMs), he claimed.

To ensure the enablement of private smart contract computation, the team is also developing its own privacy focused smart contract programming language, known as “Noir.”

Noir is completely open source and will be a general zero-knowledge circuit language designed to prove any cryptographic backend.

“The reason we want to be programmable and why we have a language is because the ideas that we can come up with as a first-party builder are going to be pale in comparison to what is going to be unlocked by just giving these tools to the entire community,” Williamson said.

In its current state, users can deploy private contracts on Aztec’s local system, with the public side of the technology still in the works. 

The team said it is currently targeting a Q3 local developer testnet, and fully remote testnets at the start of next year.


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