What is Polygon (MATIC)?
December 7, 2022

Polygon is an EVM-compatible Ethereum sidechain that uses the Proof-of-Stake method of validation. This means Polygon is its own blockchain, but it benefits from and is compatible with Ethereum in a few important ways. Polygon’s native token is MATIC. In 2022, Polygon pledged to go carbon neutral.

What is Polygon (MATIC)?

Polygon was created to reduce Ethereum transaction costs and improve speed. While Ethereum, a Layer 1 chain, is one of the most popular blockchains due to its secure and decentralized nature, its popularity has made transaction times longer and gas fees higher. Built on Ethereum’s technology, Polygon was designed to be a scalable solution for some of Ethereum’s pain points.

Polygon was established in 2017 under the name MATIC and renamed Polygon in 2021, but retained the name “MATIC” for its cryptocurrency. MATIC is being used by tens of thousands of dApps for gas fees, is used on the Polygon blockchain to stake, and can be used to buy Polygon NFTs. 

As a scaling platform, Polygon also offers a suite of solutions for developers. 

How does Polygon work?

Think of Polygon as a sibling to Ethereum. It’s a separate blockchain, but the two are compatible in specific ways. For example, wallet addresses on Polygon and Ethereum are the same on both chains. You can think of this like account numbers that are shared across multiple services. You can have multiple accounts, or wallets, on Polygon and Ethereum with different balances on each, but your wallet address serves as the common identifier on both. Polygon also benefits from Ethereum’s security protocols. 

One thing that’s important to note is that contract addresses are different on Polygon and Ethereum, and tokens from Polygon have to be bridged to Ethereum to be usable there.

Ethereum is a Layer 1 blockchain. Layer 1 blockchains are the main, or base level, blockchains. This primarily means they offer tools that allow other blockchains to build on top of them such as a base level of security, and core software development frameworks. 

Polygon is a sidechain created to scale effectively. A "sidechain" is a separate, independent blockchain that’s linked to the Layer 1 chain via a two-way bridge. Sidechains are designed to process transactions efficiently and are essentially self-contained blockchains responsible for their own security. What connects them to the main blockchain is that they use the same underlying technology, and that they have the ability to transfer digital items to the main blockchain. 

Polygon’s documentation says:

“Think of a Sidechain as a clone of a 'parent' blockchain, supporting [the] transfer of assets to and from the main chain. It is simply an alternate to [the] parent chain that creates a new blockchain with its own mechanism of creating blocks (consensus mechanism). Connecting a sidechain to a parent chain involves setting up a method of moving assets between the chains.”

Developers typically decide which kind of blockchain to build on based on developer tools, gas fees, and processing speed. Polygon and other EVM-compatible sidechains help address scaling on Ethereum and reduce issues like high gas fees and slower speeds.

What validation method does Polygon use?

Polygon uses the Proof-of-Stake method to validate each transaction added to the blockchain. 

In Polygon’s  Proof-of-Stake method, as a prerequisite to being allowed to validate, validators stake MATIC on the Ethereum blockchain. This process helps guarantee a blockchain’s decentralized, secure, and public nature.

What are Polygon’s main uses?

Polygon’s advantages are its ability to process transactions faster and at lower gas fees than Ethereum while also being able to utilize Ethereum’s decentralization and security.

In web3, the term “gas fee” refers to the payment needed to execute transactions on the blockchain. These payments compensate the node operators who keep the blockchain functioning. This validation helps ensure the blockchain has a permanent, immutable record. 

Here are Polygon’s main uses: 

Polygon DApps

Decentralized Apps (or DApps) are blockchain-integrated websites that requires you to connect and approve all transactions with your wallet signature. Popular DApps that use Polygon include Lens Protocol, Sandbox, and Decentraland.

Polygon DeFi

Decentralized Finance, often shortened to “DeFi,” is the term used to describe all financial services that operate on blockchain technology. Common services include earning interest, borrowing, lending, and trading. DeFi enables trustless, permissionless, and fast transactions. 

Polygon NFTs

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique, digital items with blockchain-managed ownership. Examples of NFTs include digital art, collectibles, virtual reality items, crypto domain names, ownership records for physical assets, and more. 

What are Polygon NFTs?

Polygon NFTs are NFTs that have been minted onto the Polygon blockchain. Polygon is most frequently used for gaming NFTs, virtual world NFTs, and utility NFTs because of its lower gas fees and speed. 

How can I buy, store, and use Polygon?

How do I buy a Polygon NFT?

Buying an NFT on Polygon requires using MATIC for the gas fee, but a Polygon NFT can be purchased with ETH for Polygon and some other Ethereum-compatible currencies that OpenSea supports.

In order to spend your Ethereum currencies on Polygon, you must first "bridge" them across to the Polygon blockchain. You will need to have an Ethereum-compatible wallet in order to bridge your ETH to Polygon. Once you have clicked through to your “Wallet Icon” on OpenSea, you will see a “Bridge to Polygon” option. Here’s our step-by-step guide

What can I store on Polygon?

Once you have set up a Polygon-compatible crypto wallet, you can use it to access cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DApps, and DAOs. MetaMask and Coinbase Wallet are two popular wallets that support Polygon. Not all crypto wallets support NFTs, so make sure you double-check if you plan to buy and sell NFTs.

How can I use Polygon? 

OpenSea supports NFT creation and buying and selling across multiple blockchains. This guide explains how to use our Polygon marketplace to create and sell NFTs. 

Is OpenSea compatible with Polygon?

Yes! OpenSea supports Polygon-compatible wallets and Polygon-based NFTs. You can buy, sell, transfer, and mint Polygon NFTs all using OpenSea. You can explore Polygon NFTs on OpenSea by using tools like our Trending chart and filtering for Polygon.

🧠 Q&A

Is Polygon compatible with Ethereum?

Yes, Polygon is a secure, EVM-compatible sidechain that enables developers to build scalable dApps with low transaction fees.

What is a Polygon Bridge?

A Polygon Bridge is built between Ethereum and Polygon to create a seamless transfer of tokens and NFTs between both. You can use OpenSea to transfer tokens directly between the two chains.

Can I add Polygon to my crypto wallet?

You can add MATIC, Polygon’s currency, to your crypto wallet. You can also purchase MATIC from an exchange like Coinbase and transfer it to your wallet. In order to spend your Ethereum currencies on Polygon, you must first bridge them from the Ethereum network to the Polygon network. Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting a crypto wallet.