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Crypto payments with Layer-2 tokens: Arbitrum, Polygon and Optimism

November 16, 2023
payments with Layer-2 tokens

The crypto sphere, known for its relentless innovation and the speed at which it evolves, has recently been buzzing with discussions around Layer-2 solutions. These are mechanisms designed to handle transaction scalability, a problem that's become evident as more people have begun to use cryptocurrencies. In this article, we will dive deep into Layer-2 tokens, focusing on three major platforms: Arbitrum, Polygon, and Optimism.

Layer-1 vs. Layer-2 Tokens: What's the Difference?

Blockchain technology is vast and ever-evolving, with innovations emerging regularly. One of the critical distinctions that users, investors, and developers should understand is the difference between Layer-1 and Layer-2 tokens. Let's explore this in depth.

Foundations: The Blockchain Layers

Before discussing the tokens, it's essential to understand the foundational layers themselves:

  1. Layer-1 (L1): this is the base layer of a blockchain, the primary protocol. Examples include the Bitcoin blockchain or the Ethereum blockchain. At this layer, transactions are processed, and consensus mechanisms operate to ensure network security.
  2. Layer-2 (L2): these are secondary protocols or systems built on top of an existing blockchain (Layer-1). They aim to enhance the blockchain's capabilities, typically by addressing scalability issues, without changing the primary protocol.

Layer-1 Tokens

Layer-1 tokens are native to their respective leading blockchains. They are essential for the functioning and security of their networks.


  • Bitcoin (BTC) for the Bitcoin network
  • Ether (ETH) for the Ethereum network


  • Security: Layer-1 tokens are secured by the consensus mechanism of their respective main blockchain, whether it's Proof of Work (PoW), Proof of Stake (PoS), or another mechanism.
  • Functionality: these tokens often have multiple functions, including serving as a medium of exchange within their network; being used to pay transaction fees; in PoS systems, they can be staked to participate in network validation.
  • Decentralization: Layer-1 blockchains tend to be inherently decentralized, with tokens distributed among many participants worldwide.

Layer-2 Tokens

These tokens exist on systems built atop Layer-1 blockchains. They represent value or utility within the Layer-2 solution and can sometimes be pegged to Layer-1 tokens.


  • State Channels on Ethereum might have their native tokens.
  • Sidechains can also have their tokens, even if they derive security from a Layer-1 chain.


  • Speed and Scalability: Layer-2 solutions are designed to offload some of the transactional burdens from the main chain, enabling faster and more scalable operations. Thus, Layer-2 tokens can often be transacted more quickly and at a lower cost.
  • Interoperability: these tokens can typically move between the Layer-2 solution and the main Layer-1 blockchain, though this often requires specific processes or bridges.
  • Security: while Layer-2 tokens benefit from the underlying security of the Layer-1 blockchain, the Layer-2 solution itself might have its vulnerabilities or risks. For instance, a poorly designed sidechain might have security loopholes even if anchored to a secure Layer-1 chain.
  • Use Cases: Layer-2 tokens often emerge to serve specific use cases or applications, like DeFi projects, gaming platforms, or NFT marketplaces, which require faster transaction times and lower fees than Layer-1 can provide.

While Layer-1 tokens represent value and functionality on primary blockchains, Layer-2 tokens epitomize the evolution and specialization of blockchain applications. Both have their roles and benefits, with Layer-1 focusing on security and decentralization and Layer-2 aiming for scalability and specialization. As the blockchain ecosystem matures, we can expect even more nuanced layers and tokens to emerge, each tailored for specific needs and use cases.

The Rise of Layer-2 Solutions

The popularity of Layer-2 solutions spiked primarily due to congestion and high transaction fees on established networks like Ethereum. As DeFi (Decentralized Finance) and NFT (Non-Fungible Token) platforms gained traction, the need for faster and more affordable transactions became evident. Layer-2 solutions filled this gap, enabling users to experience smoother transactions without compromising the security of the main blockchain.

When and Why did Layer-2 Solutions Become Popular?

  1. Congestion on Ethereum: as Ethereum became the go-to platform for Decentralized Applications (DApps) and Decentralized Finance (DeFi), its network faced congestion, leading to slower transaction times and elevated gas fees.
  2. Emergence of DeFi and NFTs: 2018 onwards saw a significant rise in DeFi platforms, followed by the NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) craze in 2020 and 2021. This growth put added strain on Ethereum, making scalability solutions imperative.
  3. Demand for Faster Transactions: in the modern financial ecosystem, users expect almost instantaneous transactions. The delays and costs on Ethereum made many turn to L2 solutions to meet this demand.

Spotlight on Arbitrum, Polygon, and Optimism

The ascent of Layer-2 solutions in the blockchain sphere underscores the industry's push towards greater scalability, especially for networks like Ethereum facing congestion challenges. Among the trailblazers in this space are Arbitrum, Polygon, and Optimism.

1. Arbitrum

Arbitrum is a groundbreaking Layer-2 scaling solution tailored for Ethereum. Developed by Offchain Labs, Arbitrum seeks to drastically enhance Ethereum's transactional throughput without compromising security. It employs Optimistic Rollups, a mechanism that batches multiple transactions off-chain and then commits a summary to the Ethereum mainnet, ensuring reduced gas fees. This approach offers a seamless transition for developers, allowing them to easily migrate their decentralized applications (DApps) from Ethereum to Arbitrum with minimal changes. By blending the robust security of Ethereum with its efficient off-chain processing, Arbitrum presents a promising solution to Ethereum's scalability challenges.

2. Polygon

Known initially as Matic Network, Polygon has evolved into a multi-faceted framework for creating Ethereum-compatible blockchains. Positioned as the "Internet of Blockchains" for Ethereum, Polygon offers many scaling solutions ranging from PoS chains to sidechains, each designed to enhance Ethereum's capacity. One of its standout features is its flexibility; developers have the autonomy to construct high-performance, sovereign blockchains while still harnessing the security benefits of the Ethereum network when desired. Furthermore, the infrastructure's ability to facilitate thousands of transactions per second and ensure interoperability among chains underpins Polygon's value proposition in the decentralized ecosystem.

3. Optimism

Born out of a passionate drive to address Ethereum's scalability issues, Optimism leverages a technology called Optimistic Rollups to amplify Ethereum's transaction processing capabilities. This mechanism operates by executing the bulk of transactions off-chain and only submitting a condensed summary to the Ethereum mainnet. What sets Optimism apart is its deep compatibility with Ethereum's existing developer tooling and infrastructure. Transitioning DApps to Optimism is relatively smooth, requiring only minor modifications. By providing near-instant transaction confirmations coupled with a one-week "fraud-proof" window for validations, Optimism is at the forefront of making Ethereum transactions faster and more cost-effective.

Lunu's integration of Layer-2 solutions underscores our commitment to harnessing the most innovative technologies to reshape the crypto payment landscape. By leveraging pioneering platforms like Arbitrum, Polygon, and Optimism, we address the pressing scalability concerns that have long challenged primary blockchains. These platforms are not mere band-aids; they're transformative tools that hasten the mainstream adoption of crypto.

For our clients, this strategic move translates to swifter and more economical transactions, eliminating the bottlenecks and hefty fees commonly associated with congested networks. At Lunu, we recognize that as the crypto realm advances, Layer-2 solutions are not just advantageous — they are essential. Our adoption of these platforms exemplifies our proactive stance in championing growth, innovation, and the best user experience in the industry.