Polygon vs Arbitrum, Which Is Better Between the Most Talked-About Layer 2 Scaling Solutions?

In the world of blockchain technology, scaling solutions have become a paramount focus to overcome the limitations of existing networks. Among the innovative solutions that have garnered significant attention, Polygon and Arbitrum stand out as prominent contenders, each offering a distinct approach to addressing scalability, speed, and cost-effectiveness in the realm of decentralized applications (DApps) and smart contracts.

As decentralized technologies continue to reshape industries and redefine possibilities, a thorough comparison of Polygon and Arbitrum becomes essential for individuals and businesses aiming to make informed decisions about which scaling solution aligns best with their objectives.

In this comprehensive article, we dive into a thorough comparison between Polygon and Arbitrum, two of the most talked-about Layer 2 scaling solutions. With the increasing demand for blockchain networks to support a wide array of applications while maintaining efficiency, the competition between these platforms intensifies.

Throughout the analysis, we will explore the fundamental differences in their architectures, consensus mechanisms, security models, interoperability, and developer ecosystems. By examining these aspects, we believe readers will gain a nuanced understanding of the advantages and limitations that each platform presents. Furthermore, we will assess the real-world performance and adoption of both Polygon and Arbitrum, showcasing their practical implications for the broader blockchain landscape.

What is Polygon?

Polygon, previously known as the Matic network, offers a user-friendly framework that empowers both new and existing blockchain projects to construct their foundations on Ethereum devoid of scalability impediments. By using Polygon, individuals can effortlessly engage with a multitude of decentralized applications (DApps) without the encumbrance of network congestion.

Polygon uses a stack of protocols meticulously crafted to tackle Ethereum’s pressing scalability constraints.

Polygon underwent a rebranding, transitioning from its former identity as the Matic network to its current name, Polygon in February 2021. The Matic network was initially recognized for its core feature: plasma sidechains.

What’s a Plasma Chain?

Plasma chains exhibit similarities to traditional side chains, although they offer heightened security in exchange for certain trade-offs in convenience. Unlike conventional sidechains, Plasma chains publicly establish their “root” on the Ethereum layer 1, functioning on the premise that even if their consensus mechanism experiences failures, the network’s security remains intact. This design choice enhances security, albeit at the expense of supporting intricate operations within these chains.

As the project’s scope expanded, Polygon decided to retain the ticker “MATIC” for its native token, resulting in the transformation of the Matic network into Polygon. While this rebranding might introduce some degree of confusion, it’s important to clarify that Polygon and the Matic network are essentially synonymous. The Polygon umbrella encompasses a range of projects with the Matic network being one of them. Notably, the Polygon MATIC token remains the native cryptocurrency of the Polygon ecosystem.

How does Polygon work as a Layer 2 scaling solution?

The Ethereum blockchain grapples with a notable limitation – its capacity to process a restricted number of transactions per second. The base layer operates at an approximate throughput of merely 14 transactions per second, each incurring gas fees. In times of heightened network activity, these gas fees surge, often exceeding $50 to $300, rendering Ethereum financially unviable for the majority of users.

Consequently, network congestion bogs down Ethereum’s processing speed, discouraging interaction with smart contracts. These issues amplify, leading to substantial accumulations of fees, particularly for users engaged in decentralized finance (DeFi) activities, nonfungible token (NFT) trades, swaps, and token-related actions on the Ethereum network.

This is where Polygon, a solution offering respite from this predicament, comes in. By leveraging scaling techniques, such as side chains, Polygon efficiently manages transactions off the Ethereum main chain. Possessing the capability to process up to 65,000 transactions per second, Polygon vastly outperforms Ethereum’s capacity of approximately 17 transactions per second. Remarkably, Polygon executes these transactions at a fraction of a cent, in stark contrast to Ethereum’s $15 average transaction fee.

What is a Zero Knowledge (zk) Proof?

Polygon’s diverse protocol suite includes zero-knowledge (zk) proofs, which empowers users to select optimal scaling mechanisms tailored to their requirements. These zk proofs operate as cryptographic primitives, allowing verification without divulging additional information.

Among the range of options, prominent choices include plasma sidechains, a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain bridge, zk rollups, and optimistic rollups. Plasma sidechains, initially embraced by Matic, operate as secure and lightweight adjuncts to Ethereum, enabling secure asset transfers.

Polygon’s introduction of a PoS bridge and its own PoS blockchain responds to burgeoning developer demands, optimizing efficiency while reducing Ethereum’s load. Zk rollups process transactions off-chain, generating proofs of validity sent to the main blockchain, ultimately curtailing congestion.

Meanwhile, optimistic roll ups employ fraud proofs to rectify inaccuracies, ensuring the credibility of transactions on the Ethereum chain. Stake requirements for data updaters act as a deterrent against fraudulent submissions.

Polygon acknowledges the absence of a one-size-fits-all solution and champions diversity in scaling choices, encompassing security, sovereignty, fees, and speed considerations. By providing an extensive suite of solutions, Polygon empowers developers to tailor their scaling strategy for optimum performance and efficiency.

What is Arbitrum?

Arbitrum is a Layer 2 scaling solution tailored for the Ethereum blockchain, orchestrating swift executions of smart contract transactions while concurrently mitigating the expenses associated with these transactions.

Layer 2 solutions possess the inherent capacity to enhance the scalability of the foundational Layer 1 blockchain by reallocating intricate computational tasks, including transaction execution and data storage, to a secondary chain. Succinctly put, the Layer 2 blockchain becomes the conduit for executing smart contracts, while the Layer 1 blockchain assumes the role of data repository. 

In the Ethereum world, Arbitrum takes on the responsibility of managing blockchain transaction processing and consolidation, thereby relieving congestion and reducing costs on the primary network. This strategic implementation results in streamlined transaction handling, enabling efficient and cost-effective operations within the Ethereum ecosystem.

Practically speaking, prominent DeFi ventures such as Sushiswap and Aave seamlessly integrate Arbitrum to facilitate optimized swaps with notably diminished gas fees, enhancing overall user experience and financial feasibility.

How does Arbitrum work as a Layer 2 scaling solution?

Arbitrum employs the concept of blockchain rollups to attain streamlined and effective transaction processing. This approach harnesses a 2-layer architecture, which entails conducting transaction activities off the primary chain before finalizing them on-chain. This configuration bestows a notable advantage: the blockchain is no longer obligated to individually validate discrete transactions, as it can efficiently endorse a consolidated batch of transactions, referred to as a “rolled up” batch.

In contrast to other Layer 2 mechanisms like sidechains, this scaling innovation significantly diverges, as rollups predominantly derive their security foundations from the core blockchain.

What’s an Optimistic Rollup?

Arbitrum’s distinctive scaling strategy capitalizes on a specific category of roll-ups known as optimistic rollups.

Optimistic rollups adhere to the same off-chain transaction processing principles as their rollup counterparts, yet they incorporate compression techniques during the bundling of transactions. This compression methodology effectively curtails gas fees and optimizes block capacity by exclusively storing imperative data on the Ethereum blockchain. Consequently, optimistic rollups empower the main chain to accommodate an increased volume of transactions while necessitating reduced storage capacity.

Optimistic rollups are underpinned by a fundamentally optimistic assumption: the majority of transactions are valid. As a result, they only initiate resource-intensive verification processes in the event of a dispute. Participants within the network possess the capacity to raise disputes concerning flawed blocks within a week’s span. Should erroneous blocks be identified, the collateral of the validator responsible for approving those blocks is forfeited. However, the intricate nature of this fraud detection mechanism results in withdrawals from the chain undergoing a week-long processing period.

With the exponential surge in development, the Arbitrum ecosystem has evolved into a multifaceted entity, encompassing several distinct components. Let’s explore the key offerings within this ecosystem – Arbitrum, Nitro, and Nova – and elucidate their distinctions.

Arbitrum One: The Cornerstone Mainnet

Debuting on August 31st, 2021, Arbitrum One serves as the official mainnet for the Arbitrum crypto ecosystem. This pivotal component drives the entirety of the ecosystem’s activities and orchestrates transaction processing through the Arbitrum Virtual Machine (AVM), an extension seamlessly compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

The driving force behind Arbitrum, Offchain Labs, stands as a New York-based Ethereum startup established in 2018. The company’s growth trajectory received a significant boost with a successful Series B funding round in September 2021, securing an impressive $120 million. Backers include Alameda Research, Pantera Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Arbitrum Nitro: Elevating Performance

Arbitrum Nitro stands as a noteworthy technological enhancement to the foundation of Arbitrum One’s ecosystem. With Nitro’s integration, speed, EVM compatibility, and cost-effectiveness surge. This augmentation is achieved by introducing interactive proofs that operate atop the WASM code intrinsic to Arbitrum.

Nitro equips developers with the ability to employ standardized EVM-compatible languages and execute unmodified EVM contracts. This extended versatility has fostered a broader development landscape and attracted an increased number of developers. Significantly, Arbitrum One formally transitioned to Nitro on August 31st, 2022, marking a year since its public debut.

Arbitrum Nova: Targeting Economical Transactions

Arbitrum Nova emerges as a novel chain with a primary focus on curbing individual transaction costs by reducing data storage on the Ethereum blockchain. Transaction data is entrusted to third parties on the “data availability committee,” comprising select storage providers like Infura and Google Cloud.

Diverging from Arbitrum One, which fully archives transaction data on Ethereum, Nova exclusively employs Ethereum to retain data signatures furnished by these entities. This adjustment, however, ushers in a more centralized structure. Nova’s design incorporates certain trade-offs in Ethereum blockchain security to bolster transaction fee reduction and scalability.

Arbitrum Nova is particularly advantageous for applications with heightened transaction volumes but relatively low individual transaction values, such as gaming platforms and social decentralized applications (dApps). Notably, Reddit’s community points initiative utilizes Nova to incentivize community engagement and participation.


In the race to address Ethereum’s scalability challenges, Polygon and Arbitrum emerge as distinct contenders, each offering unique solutions to enhance blockchain efficiency. Polygon’s multifaceted protocol stack provides a range of options for developers, fostering usability and convenience across various applications. In contrast, Arbitrum’s Layer 2 approach, powered by its innovative rollup technology, focuses on expediting transactions and optimizing compatibility within the Ethereum ecosystem.

Throughout this comparison, it’s clear that both Polygon and Arbitrum play crucial roles in advancing the capabilities of blockchain technology. Polygon’s emphasis on diversity empowers developers to tailor solutions, while Arbitrum’s transaction-centric strategy enhances user experiences. As the blockchain landscape evolves, the competition between these platforms highlights the industry’s relentless pursuit of scalability, cost-effectiveness, and user-centric design.

The choice between Polygon and Arbitrum rests on aligning objectives with the strengths of each solution. As blockchain technology continues its transformative journey, these platforms stand as exemplars of innovation, fueling progress and propelling the decentralized ecosystem into new frontiers.


How do Polygon and Arbitrum differ in their scaling approaches?

Polygon utilizes a variety of scaling mechanisms, offering a diverse suite of options for developers to choose from. Arbitrum, on the other hand, focuses on rollup technology, which processes transactions off-chain before finalizing them on the Ethereum mainnet.

Can developers use both Polygon and Arbitrum for their projects?

Yes, developers have the option to choose either Polygon or Arbitrum, based on their specific project requirements. Both platforms offer compatibility with Ethereum, providing flexibility in selecting the most suitable solution.

What do you need to use Arbitrum?

Arbitrum offers accessibility through decentralized applications such as Aave, 1inch, or Gnosis Safe, as well as directly via its token bridge. Utilizing the token bridge involves depositing funds into the Arbitrum network after connecting a Web3 wallet, with approximately 10 minutes for the deposit to finalize.

Can both Polygon and Arbitrum be used for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications?

Yes, both Polygon and Arbitrum can be utilized for DeFi applications. Their enhanced scalability and reduced transaction fees make them attractive options for DeFi protocols, improving the overall user experience.

Are there any differences in their security models of Polygon and Arbitrum?

Polygon and Arbitrum employ different security models. Polygon relies on its existing network validators and Ethereum's security, while Arbitrum relies on Ethereum's security for its rollup solutions.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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