“Big Four” international accounting powerhouse EY became an instant darling in the Ethereum community back in the spring when it released into the public domain its Nightfall tool, a privacy solution designed to help enterprises use the Ethereum public chain privately.
But just because they open-sourced Nightfall hardly means EY has stopped working it.
Indeed, the accounting giants have outdone themselves again where Nightfall is concerned, as Paul Brody, leader of global blockchain innovation at EY, revealed this week that the firm’s developers had upgraded the solution to allow for transaction batching.
Accordingly, Nightfall can now facilitate 20 private transactions for the price of a single transaction, or around $0.24 USD worth of ether (ETH).
The development is a significant one, or at least a significant step in the right direction for Ethereum privacy solutions, as early innovations in the space have trended toward being expensive, relatively speaking, while their fledgling possibilities are still being developed.
Moreover, Brody confirmed in the Nightfall upgrade announcement that even more updates to the solution would be coming in short order, all of which will bring even further optimizations to the privacy tool:
“This is the first of several new updates that will be coming from us in this area in the coming months. For those of you keeping score at home, this [initial upgrade] represents a 400-fold improvement in gas efficiency since our OpsChain Public Edition prototype just over one year ago.”
Specifically, Nightfall relies on zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to obscure transaction details on the Ethereum mainnet. Its crux is to provide companies with on-chain auditability without them having to publish their business operations to the world.
“Companies will still be able to provide full traceability and transaction history to auditors and regulators without revealing transaction content more widely,” EY said of the tool earlier this year.
Another Zero-Knowledge Tool Nears
On December 5th, the same day EY unveiled its latest Nightfall upgrade, crypto research firm Matter Labs rolled out the testnet for ZK-Sync, a layer-two scaling solution for Ethereum that relies on ZKPs and sidechain tech to make transactions more affordable and private.
As Matter Labs founder Alex Gluchowski explained in an introduction post, ZK-Sync is designed to make Ethereum better suited for mainstream use:
“ZK Sync is designed to bring a VISA-scale throughput of thousands of transactions per second (TPS) to Ethereum while keeping the funds as secure as in the underlying L1 accounts and maintaining a high degree of censorship-resistance. Another important aspect of the protocol is its ultra-low latency: transactions in ZK Sync will provide instant economic finality.”
The end goal is “bringing millions of users into crypto,” Gluchowski added, namely by creating a solution that can offer a “Web-like experience without sacrificing the values of the blockchain revolution.”
Big Companies Are Here to Stay
Having a major firm like EY being a stakeholder in the Ethereum ecosystem is a milestone in and of itself, but the company is far from the only big enterprise that has explored the reigning smart contracts platform this year.
For example, even just this week tech giant Microsoft has collaborated with Enjin, the project that created the official ERC-1155 Ethereum token standard, to launch “Azure Heroes” — tokenized collectibles to be used as rewards within the development community around Azure, Microsoft’s cloud services arm.
As Microsoft explained of the effort:
“Azure Heroes aims to reward individuals for verifiable acts of impact such as coaching, creating demos, building sample code, blogging about Azure or completing certain challenges. Community members that have demonstrated their contributions will be recognised with badges across a number of categories.”
The venture may prove an early domino among many further tokenization projects to come, and as things stand, Ethereum would likely be home to the majority of those projects.