Cronos broadens scaling roadmap from Cosmos to Ethereum

Cronos Labs launches testnet for the Cronos zkEVM Chain, the first “hyperchain” using zkSync’s ZK Stack

article-image

morison13/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

share

The network of Ethereum layer-2 rollups using zkSync’s ZK Stack got a new addition Thursday, with the launch of the Cronos zkEVM testnet.

Blockchain developer Cronos Labs is developing its third blockchain, which is the first to use ZK Stack hyperchain to reach a live testnet.

The first chain in the Cronos ecosystem was a Cosmos appchain developed in partnership with the Crypto.com exchange and launched in 2021. Cronos then followed up with an EVM-compatible chain, also built using the Cosmos SDK in 2022. This new effort augments, but does not replace, the prior two chains.

Cronos’ zkEVM is the result of a collaborative effort involving Cronos Labs, Matter Labs (the team behind zkSync), and several engineering teams from stakeholders Crypto.com and dapp developers on the existing chains.

The zkEVM testnet is built on top of the Ethereum Sepolia testnet and leverages zkSync’s new open-source prover, Boojum, a STARK-based zero-knowledge proof system, notable for its low hardware requirements and low fees in the layer-2 rollup space.

Read more: Polygon Zero and Matter Labs square off over open-source norms

Launching a native Ethereum chain was motivated by frustrations with bridging across EVM chains and between Cosmos and Ethereum, according to Ken Timsit, managing director at Cronos.

“When we started building Cronos as an EVM chain, we were, of course, already convinced that the Ethereum developer ecosystem has richness and robustness that has no comparison when it comes to building DeFi and NFT applications,” Timsit told Blockworks.

Good relations with Matter Labs and a desire to contribute to the open source development of the ZK Stack led them to take the next step.

Hyperchains share components of the ZK Stack, including a shared native bridge to the Ethereum mainnet and zkSync’s trustless bridging mechanism, in which assets remain secured by Ethereum. 

It will also benefit from zkSync’s native account abstraction, which allows transactions fee payment in various cryptocurrencies, such as Cronos’ token (CRO).

“When you look at legacy chains, it’s very hard to migrate Ethereum assets, for example, to account abstraction enabled wallets,” Timsit said. “And so for us, starting by default with account abstraction is a way to take advantage of what this technology offers, better than what we can do on a chain which already has an ecosystem of wallets and tokens.”

Cronos’ zkEVM is expected to progress to mainnet in the second quarter of 2024.

Growing hyperchains

A handful of other hyperchains are in development using the ZK Stack, notably GRVT, (pronounced “gravity”) a derivatives exchange, and Tradable, which is working on bringing private credit on-chain.

Tradable intends to have an institutional focused hyperchain, eventually forming a decentralized chain alongside other institutional partners, according to Omar Azhar, Matter Labs head of business development.

“I think what you might start seeing is app specific chains and then ecosystem specific chains,” Azhar told Blockworks.

Matter Labs sees the zkSync hyperchain as strictly a better option than app-specific chains in Cosmos, such as Cronos’ earlier efforts, said Marco Cora, senior vice president of business and operations. That’s because Cosmos chains generally must provide for their own validator set and security, and lack native token bridges to Ethereum.

“If you are an appchain developer, why are you taking on these two extra projects that you shouldn’t really focus on: building the bridge and bootstrapping the security?” Cora told Blockworks.

The ZK Stack competes with other well-funded networks building zkEVM chains, including Polygon, whose Chain Development Kit (CDK) shares many of the same goals, and StarkWare’s Starknet, the progenitor of STARK prover technology which both Polygon and zkSync have iterated upon.

Hyperchains can also serve the purpose of private blockchain frameworks such as Hyperledger or Corda, Cora said, but with all the benefits of Ethereum.

“They are technically highly scalable, but they practically don’t scale. When you speak with most enterprises, they tell you this is way too expensive for what it is for me,” he said.

Aside from cost considerations, there’s the social coordination problem.

“If you’re Goldman Sachs, you don’t want to join the Morgan Stanley Chain just because it’s the Morgan Stanley Chain. If you’re Fidelity, you don’t want to join the BlackRock Chain just because it’s the BlackRock Chain and so on and so forth,” Cora said.

“But if the sponsor of the chain…forced himself to create a zero knowledge proof and to hand this proof to a third party — which is Ethereum — they now can claim a much higher degree of credible neutrality,” he added. “Now, this party cannot mess with the system.”


Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.

Tags

Upcoming Events

Hilton Metropole | 225 Edgware Rd, London

Mon - Wed, March 18 - 20, 2024

Crypto’s premier institutional conference returns to London in March 2024. The DAS: London Experience: Attend expert-led panel discussions and fireside chats Hear the latest developments regarding the crypto and digital asset regulatory environment directly from policymakers and experts.

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Top Icon.png

Research

Osmosis thrived in H2 2023 on the back of increased DeFi activity deriving from recently launched Cosmos-related projects and better market conditions. With new value accrual mechanisms for the native token, Osmosis is well-positioned to continue its strong performance in 2024.

/

article-image

Though the opposing flow trend is likely to slow over time, industry watchers note, bitcoin fund assets could one day eclipse the $90 billion gold ETF space

article-image

Celestia had the first mover advantage. EigenDA has staked ether. What sets Avail apart?

article-image

Bitcoin moved 1% higher Monday morning in New York, Matrixport analysts say $62,000 could happen next month

article-image

It’s hard to believe right now that crypto — even with all of its flexibility and massive capabilities — could ever be like cash on the internet

article-image

Michael Saylor announced Monday morning that MicroStrategy bought 3k more bitcoin after the X account was compromised over the weekend

article-image

Plus, Pudgy Penguins grows its brand and a group of Autoglyphs sell for $14.5 million