MATIC is the native token of the Polygon network, it can be used to pay transaction fees, participate in network governance, and secure the network through staking.
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A brief history
Polygon, originally called the Matic Network, was created in 2017 as the brainchild of experienced Ethereum developers—Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, Anurag Arjun, and Mihailo Bjelic. Polygon (MATIC) is a platform that aims to scale Ethereum. With high speed and low transaction costs, Polygon uses sidechains that run alongside the Ethereum main chain and handle off-chain computations. Sidechains can be built using one of three construction scalability methods. Frist, Plasma Chains bundles transactions into blocks and batch them into a single submission on the Ethereum blockchain. Second, there are zk-Rollups which allow multiple transfers to be bundled into a single transaction. Lastly, there are Optimistic Rollups which are to Plasma Chains, but with the capability of also scaling Ethereum smart contracts. Polygon’s main chain is a Proof of Stake (PoS) sidechain in which network participants can stake MATIC tokens to validate transactions and vote on network upgrades.
MATIC in practice
As mentioned before Polygon uses a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to create new MATIC and secure the network. Users can earn money on MATIC they hold via staking. Validators verify new transactions and add them to the blockchain and in exchange, they may receive a cut of fees and newly created MATIC. Becoming a validator on Polygon requires a full-time node (or computer) and staking one’s own MATIC. Additionally, there are delegators who stake their MATIC indirectly via a trusted validator. This is a much lower-commitment version of staking but requires research into the validator selected since if the validator makes errors you could lose some or all of your staked MATIC.