Bitcoin and many other coins regularly surge to all-time highs. Some people are making big purchases with digital tokens. Others are using it as a retirement supplement. There’s never a dull moment in the world of cryptocurrencies. Every coin promises a revolution in one way or another. Zcash is a cryptocurrency that aims to offer unprecedented privacy protection of transactions through the use of zero-knowledge cryptography.
Technology / Theory (the Whitepaper)
As we mentioned above, Zcash is the “first open, permissionless cryptocurrency,” which fully protects transactional privacy using zero-knowledge cryptography. It is decentralized and open-source. Unlike Zcash, Bitcoin and most other altcoins expose your entire payment history to the public for verification services.
The cryptocurrency grew from the Zerocoin project, whose goal is to improve anonymity for Bitcoin users. While Zcash payments publish to a public blockchain, users can set additional privacy features, like concealing the sender, recipient, and value.
On a more technical level, this works because Zcash encrypts the contents of their shielded transactions. The protocol uses a proprietary cryptographic method to verify the validity. The currency runs on a zero-knowledge proof construction called zk-SNARK. With zk-SNARK, the network can maintain a secure ledger without disclosing who is transacting what amount. The transaction includes encrypted metadata. And the zk-SNARK can prove that no one is cheating or stealing.
You can send public payments in Zcash, if you don’t feel a fully encrypted transaction is necessary. The main difference is that public transactions are Zcash payments sent from a shielded address to a publicly visible address. On the other hand, private payments are send from a publicly visible address to a shielded address, protecting the receiver’s metadata.
Zcash even creates an equally interchangeable unit; units of cryptocurrency must unlink from their history so that one unit is as valid as any other unit.
Find the whitepaper here.
The supply model for Zcash is similar to Bitcoin. Zcash protocol caps the total number of tokens at 21 million. The mining reward cuts in half roughly every four years, like Bitcoin.
Token distribution – When and How
Unlike Bitcoin, though, 10% of Zcash’s 21m units mined on the Zerocash protocol go to Zcash’s stakeholders. These people include the founders, investors, employees, and advisors. Zcash dubs this the “Founder’s Reward”.
The stakeholders don’t get their reward all at once or in a linear fashion, though. In the beginning, the protocol creates 50 ZEC every 10 minutes. 20% of that goes to the founders, while 80% goes to miners. When the mining incentive cuts in half in 2020, the miners get 100% of the reward.
Zcash’s token abbreviation is ZEC. Its ICO was on October 28th, 2016, and you can trade the currency on most major exchanges.
Zcash’s team of experienced cryptographers developed the proprietary technology, zk-SNARK. The team used recent breakthroughs in cryptography to create zk-SNARK.
Peer-reviewed cryptographic research forms the basis of the cryptocurrency. A security-specialized engineering team built it on an open source platform based on Bitcoin Core’s battle-tested codebase. When compared to Bitcoin, Zcash adds the layer of privacy onto its own transactions with advanced cryptographic techniques. These include zk-SNARK, zero-knowledge proofs, to guarantee the transactional validity without revealing additional information.
The engineering team isn’t the only group at Zcash that has a high level of experience. The scientists, advisors, and even founder are all highly esteemed in their fields. All authors of the Zerocash protocol, most of the creators of the Zerocoin protocol, and leading researchers of zk-SNARK contribute to the success and evolution of Zcash.
The founder and CEO of Zcash, Zooko Wilcox, brings more than 20 years of experience to the table. His specialty lies in open, decentralized systems, cryptography and information security, and startups. His highly-recognized work includes DigiCash, Mojo Nation, ZRTP, “Zooko’s Triangle”, Tahoe-LAFS, BLAKE2, and SPHINCS.
Zcash is currently at #14 in the global cryptocurrency market. It is set to become even larger, especially with their continuous improvement in security technology. We don’t think it hurts to take a break from Bitcoin to buy a few Zcash coins. It may be one of the best investments you’ve ever made.