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Layer 1 Vs Layer 2 Blockchain Solutions Explained

By (Rain İçerik Ekibi - Jul 05, 7:00 PM

Blockchain ecosystems can be categorized based on their architecture and autonomy. As such, we distinguish between Layer 1 blockchains and Layer 2 blockchain solutions that make up the majority of top standalone crypto projects today. In this article we’ll thoroughly explore both Layer 1 and Layer 2 blockchain solutions, including their basic characteristics, distinctive designs, and specific examples.

About Blockchain Architecture

Original blockchain ecosystems, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, built their project from scratch years ago and thus have a proven track record of security, usability, and awareness. The above are the main advantages of such so-called Layer 1 solutions, which Layer 2 solutions build upon. These are also the reasons why Layer 2 solutions exist in the first place: by improving on an existing, renowned blockchain, they, too, gain more credibility than by launching as a separate project and having their reputation start from zero. With that said, let’s see the specifics about each solution.

What Does Layer 1 Blockchain Mean?

Layer 1 blockchains are those projects that operate as fully standalone ecosystems. A Layer 1 blockchain sets all of its rules and builds its architecture from scratch, as well as it operates without any other blockchain system. A Layer 1 blockchain is a robust system, thus upgrading it requires fundamental agreement between network participants which usually takes a lot of time, resources, and can still fail in the end. The decided upon upgrade is also harder to implement: it can be done either through a soft fork, or a hard fork, of which the latter leads to a network split.

Layer 1 Blockchain Examples

Among the most popular Layer 1 blockchains of our times are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Cardano, and BSC.

What Are Layer 2 Blockchain Solutions?

Layer 2 blockchain solutions aim to leverage the reputation of their Layer 1 base and improve on their capacities via various ways. A Layer 2 solution is always connected to a Layer 1 blockchain in one way or another, be it a smart contract, a side chain, or a direct integration. 

Types Of Layer 2 Blockchain Solutions

There are many types of Layer 2 blockchains solutions, but there are only two that are worth highlighting, namely zkRollups (zero-knowledge rollups) and sidechains. zkRollups essentially save on transaction fees and increase speed by bundling numerous transactions together and registering them as one on the Layer 1 blockchain through a smart contract. Thanks to this direct integration, their security matches that of the Layer 1 blockchain, but their efficiency is much higher. 

Sidechains, on the other hand, are standalone blockchains that still operate in connection to their Layer 1 blockchain, albeit with a much looser relation. Sidechains can be more effective than zkRollups, however, their security is not as accepted as that of the other Layer 2 solution.

Layer 2 Blockchain Examples

Widely adopted blockchain Layer 2 solutions include Lightning Network for Bitcoin, and Polygon (MATIC) for Ethereum.

Ending Remarks

At the end of the day, Layer 1 and Layer 2 blockchains both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages, and it seems that it is unnecessary to choose a superior model, as the two are best functioning when coexisting in a synergy.


Rain is a Crypto-Asset Services Provider headquartered in İstanbul. Rain provides services to its users at financial institution standards.





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