Ethereum fees are high because people are using it? “Layer 2” seems to be the magic word for solving all these problems. But are Layer 2s actually already here yet? Are they able to keep their promise of lowering fees for everybody?
Let’s take a look at Layer 2 today!
Why are Ethereum fees high, and what does scalability really mean?
Blockchains are limited. Ethereum for example chooses to be very decentralized while still being secure and scalable.
- Decentralized means that everybody can join.
- Secure means it’s very expensive for an attacker to double spend.
- And scalable means throughput and speed are big enough for many applications and users to use Ethereum
The problem is that blockchain developers have to choose two out of three options. For example, you can’t build a blockchain that’s super fast while still running on the laptops of everyday users. And, you can’t build a super fast and secure blockchain that is expected not to go offline once a power outage hits the 10 servers that run it.
Ok, Ethereum tries to be decentralized and secure first, and scalable second. But why are fees high?
Low scalability just means that users are competing for less space in a given block. Today, 200-300 transactions are included in an average Ethereum block. If you want your transaction to be part of it, you have to pay a fee. Otherwise miners don’t mine. And with more people wanting to be included, the fee you have to pay increases. A “fee market”.
Now, the Ethereum community does have a plan on how to increase scalability. The switch to POS with Eth2 is a major part of that, but today we will look at the second part: Layer 2.
So let’s dig in!
What is Layer 2?
Layer 1 is the Ethereum mainnet. If you used Ethereum before, that’s the blockchain that you used.
Layer 2s are a scaling solution. Most current scaling solutions fall into this category. But others you might come across are: Sidechains, state-channels, and actually scaling solutions for layer 1 such as sharding.
Layer 2s, however, are a special kind of scaling solution. They are blockchains that derive security from Layer 1.
Because today most Layer 2 solutions refer to zk-rollups and optimistic rollups, let’s continue with taking a look at those while ignoring Plasma (which has more information here).
Click here to check out Layer2 solutions.
How do rollups work anyways?
Compared to Layer 1, rollups (i.e. zk-rollups and optimistic rollups) keep a big chunk of information off-chain. Since only a small portion of the information needs to be confirmed on the expensive Layer 1, each Layer 2 transaction is comparatively cheap.
The bare minimum of information a rollup publishes is a so-called “state root”. A hash over all recent transactions that proves consistency and their outcome, e.g. “Max received 10 ETH from Alice, and Bob received 5 ETH from Charlie”.
Now rollups only need to prove that those transactions are correct, they actually happened. And the two major rollup types have two different approaches.
Optimistic rollups give users the option to use “fraud proofs”, to show a smart contract on Layer 1 that the recent transactions batch should be reverted.
Zk-rollups do the opposite. They use a cryptographic proof (e.g. called a ZK-SNARK), which mathematically proves a state root to be correct.
At the same time, rollups still support all the kinds of computation that Layer 1 does, too. Which means all of DeFi and so on works on Layer 2.
Is it worth using a Layer 2 already?
We are somewhere at the beginning of the Layer 2 era.
On one hand, you need to use bridges - compare gas - or try exchanges or layerswap.io, to get your tokens from Layer 1 to Layer 2. DApps are still somewhat limited on Layer 2, and there are risks involved: https://l2beat.com/?view=risk
On the other hand, using Layer 2 is already a lot cheaper than using Ethereum mainnet.
$5.83 B TVL shows that people are using it.
Get started using Layer 2 on imToken
imToken holds the same vision of enabling everyone to have free and equal access to their digital life through blockchain as Layer 2. That’s why it has been deeply committed to the Layer 2 ecosystem. Since the beginning of 2021, new Layer 2 functions have been available in the wallet with multiple leading DApps using different Layer 2 solutions.
You need to first download and install imToken to experience the ecosystem. Here is the download link: https://token.im
How to experience zkSync in the wallet?
zkSync is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum based on zkRollup. It is designed to support efficient payment with low costs in the network where users’ asset security can be protected by zero-knowledge proof and on-chain data availability.
- To enable your zkSync wallet, open imToken and click “My Profile” at the right bottom corner, and click “Explore”.
- Click “Deposit” to enter the deposit page, then deposit the assets in your Ethereum mainnet address into the zkSync network. After receiving the deposited assets, you can enjoy efficient and low-cost payment in it.
Step-by-step tutorial: How to use the zkSync wallet on imToken?
How to Use imToken’s Custom Network Function?
The custom network function of imToken allows you to rapidly switch between different Layer 2 networks, including Arbitrum, Optimism, and Polygon.
At the same time, features such as the automated token discovery and the display of prices and assets in DeFi protocols in the Layer 2 network are accessible in the wallet. With these features, Layer 2 users can better manage their assets.
Let’s Take Arbitrum as an Example.
- It is recommended that you should first deposit before using the Arbitrum wallet so that transferring and using the DApp will be easier for you.
- You can deposit in the following two ways:
- Withdraw your assets from exchanges that support the Arbitrum network, such as Binance and FTX, to your Arbitrum address, which is the same as your Ethereum one.
- Use bridges to deposit the tokens in your Ethereum wallet into your Arbitrum address.
Switch the network
Open your ETH wallet then click “Ethereum” at the top. Choose “Arbitrum” in the pop-up to switch to the Arbitrum network.
Experience Layer 2 DApps
- Swipe the function bar to the left, click “DApp” then you can see the most popular DApps in the Arbitrum ecosystem.
Step-by-step tutorial: How to use Arbitrum on imToken?
Use Layer 2 bridges on imToken
Users can get access to leading Layer 2 Bridge DApps in imToken. If you are a frequent user of different Layer 2 networks, you can use those DApps, including cBridge, and Hop Protocol by searching them on the “Browser” page. In this way, you can effortlessly move your assets among those networks.